High Blood Pressure?

March 7, 2011 BY: LISA

Here are a few facts and frequently asked questions to help you manage your condition:

Why do you need to reduce salt?

Salt has been shown to increase blood pressure, so for those with high blood pressure salty foods can increase blood pressure even further.

Most of the salt eaten today is not salt added to food in the home but salt found in processed and packaged foods. The amount of these foods eaten has increased greatly in recent times and Australians now eat more salt than they did in the past.

Tips for eating less salt

  • eat fresh food instead of processed food
  • choose no added salt, salt reduced or low salt canned foods, bread and margarine
  • look for processed foods with less ‘sodium’
  • eat cold roast meat or poultry in sandwiches instead of manufactured deli meats
  • use small amounts of salty sauces
  • add herbs and spices to food in place of salt

How does alcohol affect blood pressure?

Moderate drinking may increase blood pressure and binge drinking may increase the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). Reducing alcohol consumption can substantially lower blood pressure in some people.

If you have high blood pressure  stick to the guidelines for safe limits of alcohol consumption which is 1-2 standard drinks per day and it’s good practise to have two alcohol free days per week.

 A standard drink is 100ml of wine, 285ml (pot) of heavy beer, 375ml (stubby) of light beer or 30ml of spirits. If you are pouring drinks at home your glass may contain more than one standard drink.

 What can Omega 3 oils do for high blood pressure?

 Omega 3 oils have been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease a number of possible ways, one being reducing blood pressure, others include :

  • decreasing heart rate,
  • decreasing clotting risk,
  • improving the function and fluidity of cells and blood vessels,
  • lowering triglycerides (fat found in the blood) and improving HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

 The National Heart foundation recommends 2-3 fish based meals per week as well as sources of non-marine based omega 3’s available from foods such as canola and soybean oil, linseeds (flaxseeds) and walnuts. For those who don’t eat fish a fish oil supplement may be useful – Speak to your GP/Pharmacist/Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).
What about plant sterols?

Plant sterols have been shown to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels which is another risk factor for cardiovascular disease. By including plant sterols as part of a healthy diet you can decrease your risk for heart attack which is important for those with high blood pressure. Plant sterols are found naturally in foods such as:

  • Nuts, seeds and legumes,
  • Bread and cereals 
  • Fruit and vegetables (small amounts)

 The effect that plant sterols have on lowering blood cholesterol levels depends on how much you eat. You can get plant sterols from the foods listed above, but if you have high cholesterol and need to lower it you will find it very hard to get enough in by these foods alone. Speak to an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) about using plant sterol enriched food products available in the supermarket.

Are there any special dietary requirements for high blood pressure?

While those people with high blood pressure may have an added incentive to ensure they are eating a healthy diet the same principles apply to everyone:

  • Choose low salt/ salt reduced products
  • Limit alcohol consumption to 1-2 standard drinks per day.
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern which includes mainly plant-based foods e.g. fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts and a wide selection of wholegrain foods, moderate amounts of low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products, moderate amounts of lean unprocessed meats, poultry and fish, moderate amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil, canola oil, reduced-salt margarines).An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can assist those with high blood pressure to lower their heart disease risk.


Lisa Renn (APD)

Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA) media spokesperson.



  1. Great post, really enlightening, thank you for sharing!

    Scott Stumpff
    March 27th, 2012

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