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Nutritional Support for Patients with Hypertension


Hypertension is one of the cardiovascular complications that significantly contribute to morbidity and mortality. Hypertension can be life threatening health problem if it is not managed well. The principle management approaches include lifestyle modification, dietary health practice, and pharmacological treatment. This paper aims to explore several concepts associated with nutritional support for patients diagnosed with hypertension and give dietary opinions on the same theme.

Causes of Hypertension

High blood pressure or hypertension is described as a health situation where the systolic and diastolic blood pressures read 140mmhg and 90mmhg or above respectively. Elevated blood pressure results from various factors which include genetic factors, environmental variables and the interaction of the two categories of factors. The environment factors that influence blood pressure include psychosocial issues, dietary practices, physical exercise, and toxins.

Core Hypertension Management Approaches

Pharmacological intervention has been a massive milestone in the management of hypertension and it has demonstrated effective outcomes. Nutritional and lifestyle modification are also efficient and complementary methods that can prevent high and reduce high blood pressure. It must be noted that dietary practice is a part of a lifestyle. Lichtenstein et al. (2006) concluded that dietary practice is a dominant factor in the emergence of hypertension.

Key Objectives for Nutritional Support for Hypertensive Patient

Unhealthy dietary practices have been blamed for the rising cases of hypertension and other cardiovascular problems or associated diseases. Thus, nutritional support is one of the critical approaches that are being fronted to tackle hypertension amongst the patients. There are various goals related to nutritional support. Firstly, the nutritional support is intended to encourage the patients to consume an overall healthy diet. A whole healthy diet is necessary because it provides sufficient nutrients and facilitates energy balance. Thus, patients or clients are encouraged to take a variety of fruits, whole grains, vegetables, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, poultry, legumes and lean meat which can include oily fish, at least twice a week.

 Secondly, it ought to encourage the maintenance of healthy body weight. Clients need to maintain their weights within the desired Body Mass Index (BMI) limits. Elevated BMI does suggest obesity or overweight and such situation predisposes an individual to cardiovascular diseases. Thirdly, it should facilitate the intake of dietary foods which has recommended levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLs), triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins cholesterol (LDLs). Elevated levels of LDLs have been implicated in cardiovascular disorders. Foods which has a high concentration of trans fatty acids and saturated fatty acids contribute to elevated LDLs. However, it can be observed that trans fatty acids increase LDLs levels more than saturated fatty acids do and saturated fatty acids tend to elevate HDLs levels more than trans fatty acids do. HDLs are associated with a reduction in the incidences of cardiovascular diseases.

Fourthly, aim for normal blood sugars and blood pressure. Reduction of blood pressure for prehypertensive and hypertensive patients is the core purpose of nutritional support. Fifthly, promote physical activity. Finally, it aims at discouraging smoking and usage of tobacco products (Lichtenstein et al., 2006).

Consumption of Fruits and Vegetable

Fruits and vegetables are essential elements of health diets. High fruit and vegetable intake in western countries are associated with a reduction in blood pressure (Utsugi et al., 2008).Fruits and vegetables contain minerals, fiber, and vitamins which are necessary for proper body functioning. Patients diagnosed with hypertension are encouraged to consume higher than average green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, mustard greens and Swiss chards. Furthermore, cruciferous vegetables which include cauliflower, broccoli, kale cabbage, Brussels sprouts and bok choy ;are essential vegetables (Kong et al., 2016).Citrus fruits which include grapefruits, lemons, oranges and limes are effective in the reduction of blood pressure.

Consumption of whole grain and high-fiber diet

The whole grains contain the germ, bran, and endosperm. Refined grains are different because its bran and germ have been removed. Whole grains include whole wheat, corn, barley, rye, millet, and sorghum. Intake of whole grains is encouraged due to various reasons; they contain sufficient fiber which is lacking in refined grains, and they improve cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disorders. Viscous or soluble fibers, for example, pectin, facilitate the reduction of LDLs cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber has been found to play a role in cardiovascular risk reduction (Lichtenstein et al., 2006).Another advantage is that fiber will make an individual take food with optimal calories and this prevents an excessive caloric intake that is experienced with refined grains.

Consumption of Oily Fish

The oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to have a hypotensive effect. Furthermore, oily fish intake has been associated with a reduced risk for coronary arterial disease and sudden death (Lichtenstein et al., 2006). These fishes can include salmon, sardines, and trout amongst others.

Limitation of Intake of Saturated and Trans Fat

Intake of saturated fats and trans fats are associated with increased levels of LDLs which contribute to cardiovascular complications. Saturated fats are found in chicken, meat, coconut oil, dairy product and other foods that contain butter and palm oil. Thus, consumption of trans fats and saturated fats ought to be limited, and they can be replaced with vegetable alternatives, lean meat, low-fat and skimmed dairy products.

Limiting salt intake in foods

The salt effect on blood pressure has been a subject of research. Salt tend to cause fluid retention in the body. When dietary salt is moderate reduced, it leads to an effective reduction in blood pressure. A reduction of dietary salt from 9-12g/day to recommendable levels of 5-6g/day leads to a beneficial impact on the cardiovascular system (Ha, 2014).Thus, foods ought to be prepared with little or no salt.

Reduction in the Consumption of Beverages and Foods with Added Sugars

The consumption of added sugars in foods and beverages has been linked to increased incidences of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Some study findings indicate that high intake of sugars especially those that contain fructose is likely to lead to a reduction of HDLs; HDLs are good cholesterol for the body wellbeing (Welsh et al., 2011).The core reason for reducing the beverage with added sugars is to ensure that the caloric intake is lowered and to promote nutrient adequacy. Beverages with added sugars are likely to lead to increased caloric intake and weight gain (Lichtenstein et al., 2006).

New Trends in Nutritional Support for Patient with Hypertension

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a contemporary concept that is utilized as guidance on nutritional foods that reduce and prevent high blood pressure. The DASH diet is rich in fruits, whole grains, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. However, it limits the consumption of sweetened beverages, added fats and red meat. Thus, DASH assists in the provision of simple and summarized information on the dietary foods that serve to prevent and reduce cases of hypertension (Siervo et al., 2015)

My Views on Nutritional Support in the Management of Hypertension

Nutritional support is an effective approach in the management of hypertension. This method has a lot of benefits; it does not only reduce blood pressure, but it also helps in the maintenance of healthy weight, prevention of obesity, and it limits risks associated with other cardiovascular disorders. Thus, it will substantially reduce morbidities and mortalities associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.


Nutritional support for hypertensive patients is almost a full lifestyle practice that facilitates healthy living. Diet has been pinpointed as one of the environmental lifestyle practice that causes hypertension and other cardiometabolic disorders. Thus, dietary practices that induce hypertension ought to be avoided or taken in little amounts e.g. dietary sodium, and foods that facilitate favorable health outcomes should be taken in plenty.