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Hypertension & Low Salt Diet

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries as it is being pumped around the body by the heart. Many people suffer from Hypertension which is often called the “silent killer” as you may have high blood pressure for many years without experiencing any symptoms.

Uncontrolled blood pressure can damage other organs in the body such as the kidneys, eyes, brain and heart. Hypertension is considered the most important risk factor for kidney disease, heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

Your diet, lifestyle and current weight has a major impact on your Blood Pressure. It is VITAL to follow a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle in order to maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your blood pressure.

Tips to reduce your blood pressure….
  • If you are on medication, take your blood pressure tablets at the correct times as prescribed by your doctor;
  • If you are overweight it is important to lose weight by following a healthy diet;
  • Is very important to exercise regularly for 20 – 30 Minutes at least 2 – 3 times a week but you must check with your doctor first;
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking as they too contribute to higher blood pressure levels. If you do drink alcohol, drink sensibly, not more than 2 measures / day;
    • 1 Measure = 1 shot of liquor, 340ml beer, 120ml Wine
  • Try and manage / reduce the stress in your life;
  • Drink at least 6 – 8 glasses of water per day;
  • Eat a high fibre diet. Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, preferably with their skins. You can also eat whole wheat breads, cereals and porridges;
  • Limit your SALT intake drastically. Salt contributes significantly to elevated blood pressure levels and you can lower your salt intake by doing the following:
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    • When preparing food you may use 1 teaspoon of table salt;
    • Check food labels. Salt can also be called sodium chloride(NaCl), Sodium, sodium bicarbonate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking powder;
    • You may use other herbs and spices such as vinegar, dried herbs, pepper, curry powders, lemon juice, onions, ginger, garlic or tomatoes to flavour your food as they do not contain salt.
Avoid the following:
  • Stock cubes (chicken, beef, vegetable etc);
  • Commercial soup powders, gravy powders (bisto etc);
  • Spices that contain salt : Aromat, onion salt, garlic salt, celery salt, chicken spices and steak and chop spice;
  • Eating processed foods too often as they are very high in fat and salt e.g. viennas, cold meats, ham, burger patties, bully or tinned beef, beef and pork sausages, ready made pasta and pizza meals;
  • Salty snacks and foods e.g. chips, salty biscuits, biltong, dried sausage (droë wors), salted nuts, salted popcorn, preserves (olives and pickles);
  • Salty spreads e.g. Marmite, Bovril, fish paste, liver spread, peanut butter, cheese spreads and pates;
  • Commercial sauces e.g. soy, Worcestershire, chutney, mustard, tomato sauce;
  • Limit tinned, dried, smoked and pickled fish, meat or vegetables;
  • Processed cheese and cheeses with a high salt content (Roquefort, parmesan and feta) must be limited to 30g portion, maximum 3 times a week;

Self-raising flour, commercially prepared pancake/muffin/scone mixes, commercial biscuits and cakes made from baking powder or bicarbonate of soda.

By Melissa Pyle, BSc. in Dietetics, Registered Dietician (SA)

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