What you eat makes a huge difference to your blood pressure and your heart health.
Take a look at the healthy foods to keep your kitchen stocked with to help you eat a blood pressure-friendly diet.
Every kitchen needs:
A fruit bowl. Fruit and vegetables should make up the largest proportion of what you eat every day. They are a vital part of any blood pressure-friendly diet and will help to lower blood pressure.
Keep a bowl of fruit in places that you might be tempted to snack, for example on the coffee table or by the TV, to help you reach your five a day and steer clear of cakes and biscuits.
Every kitchen cupboard needs:
Wholegrain varieties of pasta, breakfast cereals and rice. Eating more wholegrains will help to lower your risk of heart disease, and they contain fibre which keeps you feeling full and aids digestion. Brown rice, wholewheat pasta and wholegrain cereals are good choices.
Nuts and seeds. These are a great source of minerals, nutrients and fibre. As they can also be high in fat, a good rule of thumb is to eat no more than handful a day. Avoid the roasted and salted types, the added salt will raise your blood pressure.
Canned fish, fruit, vegetables and beans. Canned products can be just as good as fresh or frozen. Choose options in water or their own juice and avoid foods tinned in oil, brine or syrup, or with added salt or sugar.
Every fridge needs:
Fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit and vegetables pack a powerful punch of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, including potassium, which can help to lower your blood pressure. Eat a variety to get the full range of nutrients.
Dairy products. These can be a good source of calcium which keeps your bones strong and is an important part of the diet. As they can also be high in saturated fat, and some cheeses can be very high in salt, the best choices are skimmed and semi-skimmed milk, unsweetened low-fat yoghurt, goats’ milk and goats’ cheese and low-fat cheeses such as soft or cottage cheese.
Fruit juice and smoothies. A 150ml glass of fruit juice or smoothie counts as one portion of your fruit and veg. Avoid “juice drinks” as these may only contain a small amount of fruit and can be high in added sugar.
Fresh or cooked lean meats. Choose chicken, turkey and lean meats with the fat and skin removed to make sure that you’re not taking on too much saturated fat. Avoid fatty cuts of meat, or processed foods like scotch eggs or sausages, as these are high in salt and saturated fat.
Fresh or cooked fish. Choose oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel for a good balance of the different types of cholesterol in your blood.
Eggs. They are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Although eggs naturally contain cholesterol, they are low in saturated fat. Saturated fat has more effect on your blood cholesterol levels than the cholesterol found naturally in food, so you can eat eggs without having to worry about your blood cholesterol.
Healthy salad dressings. Salads are a great way to reach your 5-a-day and fill up at meal times while taking on very few calories. If you are buying salad dressings, always check the label to see how much salt, sugar and fat they contain – salt in particular will raise your blood pressure. Better still, make your own salad dressings with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice, and your favourite herbs.
Every freezer needs:
Frozen fruit and vegetables. Frozen fruit and vegetables contain just as many nutrients as fresh ones and work just as well at lowering your blood pressure. Plus they’re often cheaper. Choose varieties that have only been washed and picked – with no added salt. Vegetables with sauces are far more likely to contain added salt and saturated fat.
Every bread bin needs:
Low-salt or no-salt bread. Bread is an important part of our diet because it’s high in carbohydrates and fibre and a good source of energy, but low in fat. Unfortunately, most manufactured bread you buy in bakers or supermarkets contains salt. Salt acts to raise your blood pressure.
Bread available in bakers or supermarkets can contain large amounts of salt which will raise your blood pressure. The amounts vary, so check the labels and compare options, and choose brown or wholemeal breads instead of white.
You can also make your own bread without any salt.
How to stock your kitchen healthily:
Download our free FoodSwitch app. It can help you make healthier choices when shopping. By scanning the barcode of a product the app will tell you how much salt, sugar and fat it contains and find similar but healthier alternatives.
Find out more about the foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat and the healthier options available.
Get more ideas for healthy eating from our meal plan in Positive Pressure, our members magazine.