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Diets for the treatment of hypertension


What diet is recommended for high blood pressure?


Currently, multiple studies have been carried out to find the causes of arterial hypertension, where it has been found that in addition to the alterations that could exist within our body, there are external stimuli such as smoking, diet, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, among other things, that generate damage to our blood vessels and subsequently the development of arterial hypertension.


Therefore, in addition to the treatment of arterial hypertension with drugs, non-pharmacological methods have been developed to reduce blood pressure levels, such as diets, exercises, meditation, and even recommendations regarding alcohol intake.


See more: How to measure the blood pressure properly?

Here I present the most common diets to reduce blood pressure through diet:



Mediterranean Diet


The Mediterranean Diet has its origins in the dietary models of ancient Rome and Greece, where there was a high consumption of fish, olive oil, bread, seeds, wine, and other agricultural products. It is recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage of humanity.


Around the 1950s it was shown that a small population in southern Italy had greater longevity and fewer cardiovascular diseases. This led to a series of studies that culminated in demonstrating that people who followed this diet had lower levels of cholesterol and minor heart diseases, with an increase in "good" cholesterol levels, a decrease in hip circumference, lower blood sugar, weight loss, a decrease in blood pressure and lower mortality.



What foods are consumed in the Mediterranean diet?


  • Cereals and tubers: Consists of the largest proportion of foods per day, including whole wheat bread, barley, corn, rice, pasta, potatoes, and wheat. It is an excellent source of fiber and energy.

  • Fruits and vegetables: This is the second link in the diet. This includes all vegetables, legumes, and fruits. Preferably consume foods as fresh as possible (avoid canned foods due to their high sodium content). These foods are rich in vitamins, water, and fiber.

  • Nuts and seeds: An excellent food as an appetizer between meals, it also has antioxidant qualities, rich in vegetable fatty acids that increase levels of "good" cholesterol in our blood.

  • Oils and fats: Preferably consume olive oil, but vegetable and animal fats are also included. Unlike animal fats, olive oil promotes antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.

  • Dairy products: This group includes the consumption of milk, yogurt, and cheese. This group is privileged for its high calcium and vitamin content. Preferably choose products with lower fat content (fresh cheeses, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt...).

  • Meat, fish, and eggs: Foods highly rich in proteins, necessary for the synthesis of amino acids and other essential substances in our body. Within this group, it is preferable to consume fish (those with high oleic and omega-3 content) and white meat.

  • Wine: It includes drinking 1 or 2 glasses of wine daily (140 ml for each glass), which is a drink rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure figures. It is worth mentioning that the dose is not cumulative...


What foods should be avoided in the Mediterranean diet?


  • Refined sugars: Consume as little as possible from this food group. These include soft drinks, snow, candy, and sugar added to foods and drinks. It is possible to use honey or low-calorie sweeteners to reduce the consumption of this food group.

  • Refined grains: These include white bread, white flour, and some pasta with processed wheat flour.

  • Trans fats: They can be found in industrially processed foods, such as cookies, margarine, sweets, breads, and processed meats.

  • Salt: Reduce salt consumption as much as possible, and avoid all foods that contain sodium as a preservative, found in canned or processed foods (such as sausages).



DASH Diet


The DASH diet comes from the acronym Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. This diet was specifically created for patients with high blood pressure, created by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1992. Various food groups were studied, and foods were chosen whose effect on blood pressure was beneficial.


Among the results observed, they found that it is possible to reduce blood pressure in at least 2 weeks by following this diet, with an expected reduction of 8 to 14 mmHg. However, in addition to the beneficial effects on blood pressure, it has been shown to also reduce some problems such as dementia, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, among others.





What foods are consumed on the DASH diet?


  • Grains (6 to 8 servings): In this group, we include bread, pasta, cereals, or rice. Preferably consume whole grain or whole grain foods. For example, a serving of grains is one slice of bread, 1 tortilla, half a cup of cereal, or rice.

  • Fruits and Vegetables (4 to 5 servings): Vegetables are foods rich in vitamins and fiber. Some examples of servings are 1 cup of leafy greens or half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, half a cup of chopped fruit, or half a glass of juice.

  • Dairy and dairy products (2 to 3 servings): Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. They include cheese, yogurt, and milk. One serving is estimated as 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, or 1 slice of cheese (45 g).

  • Meat, poultry, and fish (less than 6 servings): Includes red and white meat, fish, and eggs. One serving is estimated to be equivalent to 28 grams of meat. The consumption of white meat and fish with high fatty acid content (salmon, trout...) is preferred.

  • Fats and oils (2 to 3 servings): Unprocessed fats and olive oil are preferred, avoiding trans fats and saturated fats at all costs. As a serving size, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise or butter, 1 tablespoon of oil, and 2 tablespoons of dressing are estimated.

  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes (4 to 5 servings a week): Because these foods are considered high in calories, their consumption is recommended in a measured manner. They include beans, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peas, lentils... One serving is equivalent to half a cup of beans or lentils, a third of walnuts, or 2 tablespoons of seeds.

  • Sugars and sweets (less than 5 servings a week): It is recommended to avoid the use of refined sugars, and reduce the use of sugar in foods. As a serving size, 1 tablespoon of jam, sugar, or honey, half a cup of snow is estimated.


In addition, moderate alcohol consumption is recommended (1 to 2 oz of liquor or 1 to 2 glasses of wine), and use less than 2.3 grams of salt per day.



MIND Diet


The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) was created as a mixture between the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. It was essentially created to slow down the degenerative process of our brain, however, in recent studies, it has been shown that the 3 diets are useful in stopping the brain degenerative process. This diet emphasizes the consumption of vegetables, mainly green leaves, blackberries, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and legumes, decreasing the consumption of red meat and increasing the consumption of fish and white meat.


It is important to remember that diets alone are not as effective, and more lifestyle modifications are necessary to improve blood pressure numbers. If you want to know more about it, click here.


Do you have information about any other diets or do you have any questions regarding the diets that were explained? Leave us your comments!

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