High blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common in Malta, affecting 1 in 5 adults. If left
untreated, it increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke, as well as kidney and eye damage.
Although hypertension can develop as our body ages, simple changes in your diet can still help
you manage your blood pressure to reduce these health risks.

Diet Tips

People who have a lot of salt in their diet are more likely to have high blood pressure and therefore we should aim to reduce the amount of salt we eat. Adults should have no more than a teaspoon of salt per day. Now, remember that salt is salt, whether it’s coming from our Mediterranean sea or the Himalayas, and whether it is table salt or the salt that is already added to processed foods.

Stir Clear of Salts

There are several ways by which you can cut down your salt intake. First of all, it is important to remove the salt from the table to avoid adding extra salt to your meals. Once you are used to this, you might want to try reducing the salt you add when cooking and making more use of herbs and spices instead. As we said before, most of the salt we eat comes from processed foods along with ready meals and takeaway, so the less of these we eat the better.

Sometimes, however, it is difficult to avoid them completely, and therefore in this case you might want to look for lower salt varieties. The same goes for stock cubes, with reduced or no salt versions being available. Although there are salt substitutes available, these will not help you to get used to the less salty taste and will therefore not help in the long run. Remember also that salt substitutes are not suitable for people with kidney or heart problems.

Control your Alcohol Intake

Drinking a lot of alcohol can also cause high blood pressure and damage your heart muscle. If you drink alcohol it is important to keep within the WHO guidelines of not more than 2 drinks per day for women, not more than 3 drinks per day for men, and abstaining from alcohol at least once a week.

Maintain a healthy weight

There is a strong link between high blood pressure and being overweight, especially if you carry most of that weight around your waist. Losing weight, even as little as 5-10% of your weight, gradually to around 0.5-1kg per week, will help you manage your hypertension. This can be done by reducing your calorie intake and increasing your daily physical activity.

Eating a healthy balanced diet will not only help you achieve a good weight, but it will also provide you with potassium, magnesium, calcium, fibre, and omega-3, all of which can help you to lower blood pressure. These can be found in fruit and vegetables, dairy food, whole grains, and oily fish, all of which form part of a healthy, balanced diet. Keeping this in mind, dietary supplements are therefore not needed or recommended. Remember that even dietary supplements can be harmful if levels more than is needed are taken.

Consult a Professional

Always speak to your doctor if you are thinking about taking a supplement or a dietitian to assess if they are needed.
Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can be a very effective part of treatment for hypertension. A dietitian can help by giving advice you on how to improve your eating habits and incorporate these changes into your lifestyle for the maintenance of good blood pressure.

If you think that you can benefit from a consultation, you can reach out here.
Justine Parnis Ignjatovic is a dietitian at Willingness. She advises both adults and children on what to eat to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve health-related goals. She has experience in managing a variety of conditions through nutrition in a holistic way.