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Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS - Melissa Meier, Healthy Food Guide Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian

How can diet help my blood pres­sure?

QI’ve just found out I have high blood pres­sure and have to take med­i­ca­tion. What changes can I make to my diet to help? El­iz­a­beth, via email

A round one-third of Aus­tralians have hy­per­ten­sion (high blood pres­sure), so you’re cer­tainly not alone! Two num­bers make up a blood pres­sure read­ing:

Sys­tole (the top num­ber) is the peak pres­sure as blood pumps away from your heart.

Di­as­tole (the bot­tom num­ber) is the pres­sure as your heart is re­laxed and re­fill­ing.

The ideal blood pres­sure is 120/80 or be­low, whereas high blood pres­sure is 140/90 or above.

Try th­ese three tips to keep the pres­sure down:

1 SHAKE THE SALT

Avoid adding salt dur­ing cook­ing or at the ta­ble. You can also look for prod­ucts la­belled as ‘no added salt’ or ‘salt re­duced’, and check the nu­tri­tion panel for less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.

2 EAT MORE POTASSIUM

If you have nor­mal kid­ney func­tion, eat­ing more foods high in potassium can be help­ful as it blunts the ef­fect of sodium on blood pres­sure. So, load up your plate with veg and aim for two pieces of fruit a day.

3 CUT BACK ON AL­CO­HOL

Men should avoid hav­ing any more than two stan­dard drinks a day, whereas women should cap their in­take at one. Every­body should aim for two al­co­hol-free days a week.

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