Food swaps to keep your blood pressure down
Chances are, you know that high blood pressure is bad, but do you actually know why, and how we could avoid it? To combat this uncertainty and bring the issue of high blood pressure (or hypertension) to the fore of public consciousness, the World Hypertension League launched World Hypertension Day.
One of the easiest things you could try is making simple food swaps; replacing things known to exacerbate high blood pressure with alternatives to avoid it. After all, high blood pressure increases risk of things like heart attacks, kidney disease and strokes.
Here are some healthy and, just as importantly, tasty, suggestions.
Raw cacao and cinnamon porridge
Overindulging in sugar can lead to weight gain and, in turn, high blood pressure, so why not explore alternative ways to get your sweet fix at breakfast? An easy swap is raw cacao and cinnamon porridge: simply pop your oats into a Tupperware with one tablespoon of cacao powder, and one teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Once you get to the office, add your choice of milk, microwave and tuck in.
Swap for: porridge with a sugar topping.
Homemade roast chicken soup
Due to salt’s properties as a preservative, it unfortunately crops up in some of our lunchtime favourites, such as tinned soup. What more of an excuse could you need to prepare a big batch of healthy, homemade soup for the week ahead? Chicken soup is well-loved and hearty, so why not try your hand at this roast chicken soup recipe from BBC Good Food? If you have some left over, you could even freeze it for those days when you don’t have time to whip up something fresh.
Swap for: tinned chicken soup.
Caprese wraps with chicken
Just like with soup, cured meats can be laden with salt in order to preserve them. In fact, lean meats can contain between 30 and 90mg of sodium, while roasted ham can contain around 1,020mg! If you’re a fan of a classic ham sandwich, this could be disheartening news. However, there are plenty of other options that are quick to prepare for work. Caprese wraps are a great example, with the addition of a lean meat like chicken. Simply add slices of mozzarella, tomato and grilled chicken to a tortilla with rocket, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Make sure that the wraps are wholegrain, as white carbohydrates can be processed with a lot of salt and sugar.
Swap for: ham sandwich.
Crisps, crackers and biscuits are the main offenders when it comes to high sodium office snacks, and are notoriously easy to graze on. The solution? Popcorn, but not as you know it. Homemade popcorn can be a great savoury snack, especially when made with flavourful spices. All you need to do is grab some popcorn kernels and add them to a frying pan with your choice of toppings, and pop away! Why not try mild chilli powder and a squeeze of lemon juice? Cook with care and remember to cover the pan, and don’t forget to take it off the heat when the popping starts to slow.
Swap for: crisps.
While you can make some delicious food swaps with a bit of concerted food prep, there’s something to be said for the simpler alternatives, too. Take bananas – naturally sweet and high in potassium, they’re a healthy snack that could actually help to harmonise your sodium levels. And if you fancy something more substantial? Avocadoes are rich in potassium, too, so you could always mash some up with lemon juice, and spread the mixture onto wholegrain crispbread.
Swap for: chocolate bars.
By simply eating well and exercising, you can go a long way to helping keep your blood pressure under control. Will you be trying out any of these food swaps?
This article was first published on 13th May 2016.