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Dietary Tips for Hypertension

What are some symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is known as a “silent killer” as most people do not experience any symptoms. Yet, some people may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, headaches, nosebleeds, palpitations, chest pain etc. 


Why is hypertension dangerous?

Uncontrolled blood pressure may damage our heart and blood vessels of our brain, kidneys, and other major organs. The higher our blood pressure, the higher the risk of damage. Hypertension may lead to serious health problems such as stroke, heart and kidney disease, and even blindness.

Here’s the good news! Hypertension can be prevented and lowered by some simple lifestyle changes:

HT Risk Factors
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Reach and maintain a healthy body weight

You may assess your weight by the following methods:

1. Body Mass Index (BMI)

 To calculate your BMI, simply use the following formula:

  • BMI:Weight (kg) / [height (m)]2

  • For Asian adults living in Hong Kong, a BMI of:

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(Please note that this is not applicable to children aged under 18 or pregnant women)

2. Waist circumference

  • For Asian adults, aim for:

      Male:<90cm(<36 inches)

      Female:<80cm(<32 inches)

  • Keeping your weight within a healthy range may help control your blood pressure while lowering your risk of many other chronic diseases such as Type two diabetes and certain cancers

  • Weight loss may be achieved by creating a calorie deficit by eating less (and smart) and increasing your activity level

  • A suggested weight loss rate would be ~1-2 pounds per week

Exercise regularly
  • Regular exercise can not only help you burn calories and lose weight, but can also help lower your blood pressure

    • Healthy adults are recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week along with 2 sessions of muscle-strengthening activities on non-consecutive days

    • Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities may include fast walking and cycling 

  • Start with something simple such as walking and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your activity

  • Safety first – pay attention to your body and stop when you feel pain or unwell

  • Speak to your doctor if you have any questions


Manage stress in a healthy way

  • Stress may cause your blood pressure to rise temporarily

  • It is important to react to stress in a healthy way. Unhealthy stress relief practices such as drinking, smoking, and stress eating may negatively impact your blood pressure and health in general

Follow a healthy eating plan

  • Patients are recommended to follow a heart-healthy eating pattern called the DASH Diet

    • ​DASH stands for the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension

  • The Dash Diet suggests to lower intake of sodium (salt), added sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and red meat. Instead, it is rich in foods that are high in important minerals that help lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and dietary fibre. 

  • The DASH Diet promotes the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and some low fat or fat-free dairy products, poultry, fish, beans, nuts seeds, and healthy oils.

  • Whole grains


    • A source of energy and dietary fibre

    • Contains more fibre and nutrients than refined grains. Whenever possible, choose whole wheat pasta and bread over regular pasta and white bread. Replace white rice with red, brown, or oat rice

    • Always choose grains that are low in fat with no added salt and sugar

  • Fruits and vegetables

    • Packed with dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals such as  potassium and magnesium

    • Variety matters – include a wide range of fruits and vegetables

    • Fresh or frozen are all healthy options! Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually picked at the peak of ripeness and then flash-frozen to preserve optimal nutrition. When choosing pre-packaged products, always read the labels and ingredients list, aim for those without any added salt or sugar

  • Low-fat dairy products

    • A source of calcium and protein

    • Contain less fat, especially saturated fat than full-fat products

    • Choose options with no added sugar whenever possible. You may add in some fresh or frozen fruits to sweeten the low-fat dairy products naturally

  • Meat, poultry, fish and legumes

    • A source of protein and magnesium

    • Choose unprocessed lean meats and trim away any visible fat and remove skin whenever possible

    • Include no less than 2 servings of omega-3 rich fatty fish per week, examples may include: salmon, mackerel, sardines etc

  • Nuts and seeds

    • A source of energy, healthy fats, magnesium, protein, and dietary fibre

    • Choose plain nuts and seeds without any added salt or sugar (e.g. flavour coatings)

  • Oil

    • Replace butter, coconut oil, or animal fats with heart-healthy vegetable oils including olive, canola, and safflower oil

    • Read food labels on margarine and salad dressing so that you can choose foods that are lowest in saturated fat and free of trans fat

  • Tips to cut back on sodium (salt)

    • Limit sodium intake to < 2000mg /day, and to further improve your blood pressure, aim for 1500mg sodium/ day


Five Dietary Tips


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