All it takes is one routine doctor’s appointment to start a “blood pressure” problem. It can be low, medium or high. This last diagnosis worries and draws the attention of specialists, because about 30% of the Brazilian population suffers from this problem – among the elderly, this rate rises to 60%. In this scenario, it is very important to highlight the role of diet: an adequate diet is capable of preventing and combating arterial hypertension.
In the ninth episode of the De Bem com Você de Vitat podcast, Chris Dias talks with cardiologist Julianna Pires and nutritionist Samanta Meraldi to explain the effect of food on blood pressure. Do not miss:
Meet the Guests
Juliana Pérez, cardiologist and marathon runner. “Hypertension, in most cases, is an asymptomatic disease, so prevention is essential.”
Samanta Meraldi is a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist. “We tend to say, in nutrition, that the main treatment for high blood pressure is lifestyle changes.”
When can a person be considered hypertensive?
Blood pressure is considered ‘normal’ when it reaches 130/85 mmHg. Above 140/90 mmHg, a person is considered to already have high blood pressure,” explains the doctor. The first number is related to the force that the heart uses to expel the blood from its interior and transport it to all the organs. The second, instead, is the pressure of “relaxation”. “If it’s too high, the member is overloaded,” she adds.
But how do we diagnose high blood pressure? You must have measured your blood pressure at least once in your life, that little device that presses on your arm. However, Julianna Perez says that she alone cannot diagnose high blood pressure.
This is because several factors can alter our pressure, and it is considered completely normal. “Having a full bladder, eating just before taking a measurement, and talking during the procedure are a few examples,” she says. Hence, the ideal control to find out if you have a problem is called ABPM (ambulatory blood pressure monitoring). It is a device that you wear for 24 hours. During this time, check your blood pressure from time to time. The average results will tell you if you have this condition or not.
Hypertensive Diet: Causes of Arterial Hypertension
According to the cardiologist, the disease is multifactorial. That is, in 95% of cases it is impossible to identify a single cause of the problem. High blood pressure is closely related to lifestyle habits (inactive lifestyle and poor diet), heredity, and weight gain. But only in 5% of cases is there another disease causing the problem,” she says.
Also, the aggravating factor is that hypertension is silent. “If not properly treated, it will damage our arteries over time, increasing our risk of heart attack, stroke, and chronic kidney disease, for example.”
Diet for hypertension: the relationship between diet and blood pressure
Bad eating habits can exacerbate the problem. For this reason, it is very important to change them”, underlines the nutritionist. That is, you have to reduce sodium consumption (it is recommended to eat only 5 grams a day) and processed, combined and processed foods.
On the other hand, you should increase your intake of elements rich in fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are found mainly in fruits and vegetables. “Milk derivatives, if they are skimmed, are a great option,” she adds. In short, she is committed to:
- Consume less sodium
- Limit the intake of processed foods;
- Reduce or significantly reduce alcoholic beverages on the menu;
- Eat a well-balanced diet (and be referred by a nutritionist) that respects your routine and food preferences;
- Eat more fruits and vegetables (ie less packaging, more peels!);
- Give up smoking
- Finally, do physical activities under supervision.