Keeping a tab on your high blood pressure, or hypertension, is not an easy task. It is a silent condition that often comes unannounced, presents no symptoms and escalates quickly.
It is a leading risk factor for more serious heart ailments – heart attack and stroke, disability and even death. And in Australia alone, close to 6 million adults suffer from it.
Over two-thirds of people over the age of 65 have high blood pressure. The people over the age of 55 who do not suffer now, have more than 90% chance of developing it at some point in their lifetime. These are staggering statistics.
However, with some systematic changes and healthy lifestyle improvements you can beat the statistic. All you need are some simple guidelines to follow – including exercising, eating healthy and practising moderation. Also, consider not smoking and reducing daily stress.
The foods we choose to eat every day are vital to our heart’s health. Some foods can help us lower our blood pressure and boost our health and vitality.
In this blog post, I give you some pointers to help you create your very own blood pressure reducing meal plan. I discuss the healthy ingredients to include and the unhealthy foods to skip. I talk about ways to cook and eat these foods without destroying their innate goodness with overcooking. And I give you a sample meal plan that you can try for yourself.
If you’re looking to spend minimum time in the kitchen but want to maximise the flavour in your food. If you want to lower your blood pressure and want to know how to prep and plan meals for your condition – This blog post is just for you!
1. Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Include 4-5 serves of fresh fruits and vegetables with your meals. Avoid processed and packaged foods to the maximum possible extent. Also, avoid junk foods and sugary drinks.
Buy produce from your local farmers markets. Go for seasonal produce and wholefoods. Buy organic certified foods wherever possible.
It is better to include a variety, however, a few vegetables and fruits are better than others for your heart. Such as beetroot, blueberries, dark beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, red pepper, squash, spinach, oranges, papaya, rockmelon, tomatoes, asparagus and broccoli to name a few.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and lots of nutritional support for your heart. Include healthy amounts of nuts and seeds in your daily intake.
Ancient grains such as quinoa and amaranth are considered superfoods. Almonds and walnuts are great to snack on and curb hunger. Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens that boost heart health. Cacao nibs are delicious as well as healthy.
3. Lean Protein and Healthy Fats
Healthy amounts of lean protein are required for a meal to be balanced and nutritious. Tofu, tempeh and bean-curd are great options for vegetarians and vegans. Try a stir-fry with veggies for a heart-healthy meal. Non-vegetarians can consider portions of fish like salmon and tuna.
Similarly, healthy fats too are essential for a meal to be truly nutritious. Consider sweet potato and avocado. For those of us with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate with cacao and no added sugar can be a great natural substitute for a sugary dessert.
Keeping your heart health in mind and as a general rule-of-thumb consider dairy free and gluten free alternatives wherever possible.
Sample Meal Plan
Here’s a sample “blood pressure reducing meal plan” that is also dairy free, gluten free and vegan. It includes all the healthy ingredients that we discussed above.
Breakfast: almond yogurt parfait with smashed avocado.
- 3/4 cup of non-dairy almond or coconut yogurt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. of slivered almonds
Top yogurt with almonds.
- ½ medium-size avocado
- Parsley to garnish
Smash the avocado into uneven pulp and season mildly. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Drink option: Green smoothie with celery, mint, spinach and cucumber.
AM Snack: ¾ cup of fresh blueberries.
Lunch: garlic grilled mushrooms and steamed brussels sprouts.
- 2 cup fresh whole shitake mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Diced red pepper
Lightly drizzle the ingredients with butter and grill in an open pan.
- 1 cup fresh brussels sprouts
Steam brussels sprouts and season mildly.
PM Snack: 2 cups cubed rockmelon.
Dinner: Mixed greens salad bowl with black beans and lentils, and a side of baked sweet potato
- 1 cup mixed salad greens
- 1 cup boiled black beans and lentils
- ½ small brown onion diced
- Coriander to garnish
Toss ingredients in a bowl and season with olive oil.
- ½ small sweet potato
Slice into fine chips and bake in an oven until crisp.