Hypertension is fought with diet. And not only by reducing salt, but also by implementing various dietary strategies that reduce blood pressure and protect the heart, the cardiovascular system and the kidneys. Let's try to understand better on the basis of a recent review that appeared in the journal High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Prevention thanks to the work of a team from the University of Bologna (Cicero et al, High Blood Press Cardiovasc Prev, 2021).
Salt, the worst enemy of blood pressure
When it comes to hypertension, the first enemy that comes to mind is salt, and with good reason. In fact, it is estimated that the intake of more than 5 grams of salt per day causes a directly proportional increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, both in children and adults. While a reduction in salt intake is associated with a decrease in blood pressure. However, care must be taken and, in case of hypertension and a high-salt diet, avoid the DIY method by suddenly eliminating salt overnight. In these cases, it is necessary to consult an expert who can help in the transition from a high salt diet to a low salt diet in order to allow the body to adapt to the new diet. In fact, it has been observed that abruptly removing the salt causes a significant increase in norepinephrine and adrenaline, hormones produced under stressful conditions, and in the heartbeat, as well as an imbalance in circulating lipids.
The diet against hypertension
The approach against hypertension, however, should not be limited only to reducing salt. In fact, the most recent guidelines recommend, in order to keep blood pressure under control, to follow a healthy and varied diet such as the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet, modified however to provide a low sodium intake. What both eating styles have in common is the high intake of fruit and vegetables, low sodium dairy products, fish and a low intake of red and processed meats and sugars. In addition, the Mediterranean diet favors the intake of good vegetable fats from olives and extra virgin olive oil.
Beetroot, tea and magnesium
There are also some foods to consider as they are useful for reducing blood pressure, as well as providing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. Beetroot juice, catechin-rich drinks such as green tea but also pomegranate juice and hibiscus tea have been shown to help control blood pressure. Noteworthy is also the hypotensive action of vitamin C and magnesium, which can be taken as a supplement after consulting with your doctor or which can be found in foods such as almonds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, flaxseeds, spinach, oats, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, tofu and whole grains. Soy with its isoflavones has been shown to be useful in controlling blood pressure especially in perimenopausal women, while resveratrol in people with nocturnal hypertension. As for potassium, this is considered one of the most effective nutrients for keeping blood pressure under control, but care should be taken to take it as a supplement, especially if you have kidney problems.