ASK THE EXPERT
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.