Which Eating Habits Contribute to a Healthy Heart?

21 Dec 2021

Arterial hypertension is an extremely common disease, which, unfortunately, may not be found or even diagnosed for a long time. When we finally find it, there may be severe and even fatal consequences - most often cerebral or heart attack. This is why this condition is called the “silent killer”. In any of these cases, medical treatment is almost always the mandatory way to go (except in very mild initial hypertension). In addition to taking medications, the other key factor for successful treatment is to closely observe your diet, water, and salt intake as well as daily movement.

Reduce the amount of added salt Of great importance is the strong restriction of salt consumption due to its sodium content. This mineral causes water retention in the body, which in turn causes an increase in blood pressure. Even in people with mild hypertension, we recommend that you reduce your intake of sodium chloride (table salt).

Enough salt is found in sausages, dairy products, and all convenience products, because sodium chloride is a preservative. People, in general, eat a lot of salty foods, so we as doctors always give the same advice: “Do not add extra salt to your dishes”. Other advice will be to reduce the consumption of sausages. Even doing these things alone – some patients show sufficient results and sometimes do not require medical treatment.

Of course, we always advise regular monitoring of blood pressure - both at home and periodic visits to the doctor’s office. There are many nutritional programs for people with high blood pressure, one of the most popular being DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). In addition to reducing the salt, it is recommended to increase the intake of foods rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Potassium and sodium are inversely related - the higher the potassium, the lower the sodium. It is good to eat more kiwis, apricots, avocados, oranges, celery, spinach, parsley, tomatoes, and bananas. Of course, if you have kidney damage, you should be careful with potassium levels, because elevated levels can be harmful.

Reduce alcohol consumption - in small quantities such as 20-30 ml, the concentrate has a beneficial effect for those who can stop at this point. And for those of you who think that this amount of alcohol is insufficient, then better skip the concentrate.

Increase the intake of saltwater fish due to their high content of 3-omega fatty acids - mackerel, salmon, herring (eat at least 3 times a week). It is also good to have almonds, sunflowers, lentils, and peas on your table because these foods are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and protein.

Dairy products are a great source of calcium, and of course, we prefer unsalted ones - cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk. As for meat, we choose white meat because of the lower cholesterol content in it. These kinds of meats you can easily find in poultry, lean pork, beef, and game.

Fruits - be careful with the sweet once. Grapefruit deserves special attention - extremely healthy, but not consumed together with some drugs due to its ability to greatly reduce their effect.

Vegetables - fresh vegetables should be present at every main meal because they are rich in calcium and magnesium (greens, cucumbers, broccoli).

Garlic - one or two cloves of this wonderful vegetable every night.

Celery - has a high content of 3-N-butylphthalide - a substance that helps control blood pressure and at the same time reduces cortisol levels, which in turn leads to narrowing of blood vessels.

Chili peppers - the capsaicin they contain improves blood circulation, boosts metabolism, which in turn helps control body weight.

Avoid trans fats – there is an abundance of them in chips, snacks, and all kinds of fried foods. These are, perhaps, some of the most harmful ingredients in our diet.

Water - the rule calls for 30-40 milliliters of water for every kilogram of weight. Water increases the elasticity of blood vessels. So, drink plenty of water, eat salt-free, eat lots of vegetables, throw away sodas and alcohol, stop fried and breaded food, eat at least twice a week saltwater fish.

Regular monitoring of blood pressure remains crucial. Changes in its levels would suggest a potential health problem that needs medical attention. Did you know that the Medrec: M mobile app allows you to keep a diary not only of your blood pressure levels but also a lot of other health indicators? Try it now.

Author: Dr. Ivan-Asen Shishmanov