Were you surprised to discover that you have high blood pressure? If you’ve been diagnosed with this common condition, you certainly aren’t alone – it affects millions of people around the world. And it’s quite the sneaky ailment. Many people don’t even realize they have high blood pressure (or hypertension as it’s officially known). Unless you’re regularly checking your blood pressure, your levels could rise unchecked and unnoticed, ultimately causing dangers like heart attacks, strokes, or organ damage.
While medication is one of the most common and effective ways to treat hypertension, your diet also plays a critical role. What you eat is tied to your blood pressure, along with other concerns and conditions that can accompany hypertension. And lifestyle changes can have a helpful positive impact on your overall health.
If you’re wondering how and why it’s important to pay attention to your diet when you’re living with high blood pressure, we’re here to tell you exactly what you need to know.
Does the food you eat have an effect on your blood pressure?
It’s common to assume that medical interventions are the only way to confront and lower high blood pressure. But your diet plays a bigger role than you may realize. As Harvard Medical School notes, the food you eat has a direct impact on your blood pressure – and in some cases, its effect can be dramatic.
While prescription medications work well, they don’t treat the cause of hypertension. Typically, it’s lifestyle choices – like what you’re eating – that contribute to high blood pressure. Sure, genetics can play a role. And in some cases, hypertension is connected to another underlying health condition. But your favorite foods might also be a significant culprit.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the primary risk factors for hypertension are being overweight, eating too much salt and lacking potassium. These are all factors that can be shaped directly by your diet. And if any of these blood pressure risks are a part of your eating habits, making changes could result in a positive impact on your health.
A healthy diet is the first step in treating high blood pressure
Following a balanced diet that’s low in salt is one of the primary changes the American Heart Association recommends for combating hypertension. So, if you’re still wondering whether your diet matters, experts pinpoint dietary habits as a key place to make improvements.
You can think about your diet as the first line of defense for your blood pressure. With the right diet, you can potentially prevent hypertension or work to lower your numbers. Research shows that altering your diet through approaches like the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet can deliver positive results and improvements.
There’s no one diet or magical food that’ll solve high blood pressure. But there are certain nutritional principles to stick to, like:
- Limit sodium
- Avoid unhealthy fats such as trans fats
- Cut out added sugars
- Reduce red meat consumption
Sound familiar? The hallmarks of clean eating are also key for better blood pressure. And we’ve got plenty of resources that can help you confront hypertension and eat for good overall health: