The frequency of hypertension or high blood pressure has reached alarming levels among Indians, according to a recent preventive health programme conducted by the Union Health Ministry. The programme screened 22.5 million Indian adults in 100 districts of the country. This is a significant increase from the earlier statistics drawn up by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of 2-015-16, which put the figure at one in every 11 Indians. One worrying fact thrown up by this recent programme is the fact hypertension has severely affected people in rural areas, considering that the survey was largely conducted in rural districts.
The National Health Portal defines hypertension as “a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure.” It also lists kidney failure, blindness, rupture of blood vessels and cognitive impairment as some of the potential health complications resulting from hypertension or high blood pressure. It clearly defines “a systolic blood pressure equal to or above 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure equal to or above 90 mm Hg” as hypertension.
The NHP also says that most hypertensive people don’t showcase any symptoms at all, which is why the disease may be called a silent killer. Some people with high blood pressure display symptoms like “headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, palpitations of the heart and nose bleeds”, etc, says the NHP report. Some of the most common causes of hypertension include a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet that is high in sodium, excessive stress, high consumption of alcohol, etc. If you any of these are a common feature of your everyday lifestyle, then you must get your blood pressure checked every so often.
Here are some diet tips you can follow to manage high blood pressure or hypertension:
1. Increase Your Potassium Intake: Foods like bananas, kidney beans, flax seeds, etc are rich in potassium, which also plays an important role in regulating hypertension.
2. Eat More Magnesium Rich Foods: Dark leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in magnesium, which may help in reducing blood pressure to a large extent. Other magnesium-rich foods include dark chocolate, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
3. Reduce Your Salt Intake: Excessive consumption of salt can cause a spike in blood pressure. Therefore, limiting the intake of salty foods like chips, French fries etc, may be helpful in tackling hypertension.
4. Cut Back On Caffeine: An excessive consumption of caffeine may be linked with a dramatic increase in blood pressure. Therefore, if you are susceptible to high blood pressure, it may be wise for you to cut back on your dose of caffeine.
5. Eat More Oatmeal: High-fibre foods like oatmeal are good for regulating blood pressure. Eating oatmeal is a good idea for people who have high blood pressure as it is full of fibre and is also helpful in regulating blood sugar levels.
Besides these, hypertension may be controlled by reducing alcohol intake, getting adequate amount of sleep, getting your daily workout and also remedying work stress with activities like meditation, yoga, etc.