High blood pressure is one of the significant risk factors for multiple diseases globally, including heart attacks, cardiac arrests and strokes. Unhealthy diets , sedentary lifestyles, smoking and alcohol consumption may all contribute to high blood pressure. Therefore, diet has a vital role in regulating high blood pressure. A “balanced” vegetarian diet is considered a preferred diet for preventing and controlling blood pressure.
Evidence suggests that blood pressure, diabetes and other disorders are less likely in vegetarians as they have increased consumption of whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit. Therefore, a vegetarian diet can help strengthen your overall health. In addition, when it comes to high blood pressure and cardiac disorders, it has low sodium and high potassium, which control blood pressure.
Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
The vegetarian diet is completely devoid of meat or meat products, including chicken, eggs, beef, turkey, etc. It also does not include fish or seafood, gelatin, and other animal derivatives. Due to the absence of saturated fats and high sodium foods such as those listed above, blood pressure levels will not be aggravated.
Nonetheless, vegetarians may also develop high blood pressure if they eat a lot of high sodium foods or fried foods and bakery products, indulge in smoking and drinking, aren’t physically active and have a lot of stress.
Let us discuss a few benefits of a healthy vegetarian diet.
- Improves Heart Health: The vegetarian diet is free from animal fats, which prevents the risk factors of high cholesterol. As a result, a healthier vegetarian diet has fewer risks of heart disease. Risk factors for cardiac disorders also reduce after adopting a plant-based diet.
- Prevents Diabetes: A vegetarian diet comprises fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, and nuts. The nutrients present in them help control blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity, thus lowering the incidence of diabetes.
- Regulates Blood Cholesterol levels: Vegetarian diets have high levels of dietary fibre that binds the unhealthy fats or bad cholesterol and eliminates them from your body. As a result, it prevents the accumulation of unhealthy fats or bad cholesterol along your blood vessels.
- Controls Body Weight: The vegetarian diet is dense in dietary fibre that makes you satiated and keeps you full for a longer duration. It prevents you from overeating or bingeing on unhealthy foods and prevents weight gain. Since the diet is free from saturated fats from animal sources, weight control is easier
Vegetarian Foods to Control High Blood Pressure
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in multiple essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent radical cell injury. Cell injury may cause various diseases, including cardiac disorders and blood pressure. Moreover, antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents swelling and inflammation in the body.Every fruit and vegetable has different antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in different ways.
Anthocyanin is an antioxidant present in coloured vegetables like beetroot. Studies show that anthocyanins, an antioxidant, effectively prevent inflammation and stiffness of blood vessels. Stiffening of blood vessels affects blood circulation triggering blood pressure. Beetroot also has high levels of nitrates which are a vasodilator, which dilates and relaxes the blood vessels. Therefore, it can help lower blood pressure.
Leafy greens have various nutrients to lower your blood pressure as they are a dense source of nitrates, which control high blood pressure. Mustard greens and spinach are excellent options. According to a study, spinach helps to reduce stiffness in blood vessels, thus preventing blood pressure. It also regulates potassium levels.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are a dense source of dietary fibre and protein, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. Evidence suggests that beans are an effective ingredient in lowering high blood pressure due to all the components mentioned above. Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, soybeans and white beans are all good additions to a diet.
Oats contain a type of fibre called beta-glucan. According to a study, oats’ dietary fibre effectively reduces high blood pressure. Moreover, it helps to control your body weight significantly.
Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa are rich in dietary fibre that keep you satiated for longer to prevent overeating and bind to bad cholesterol in the body thereby eliminating it and therefore preventing high blood pressure.
Vegetarian Dinners for High Blood Pressure: Healthy Recipes
A typical vegetarian meal has many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also contains healthy fats and proteins. Nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu, and cottage cheese are eaten instead of animal protein. Here we have healthy, nutritious and simple recipes for blood pressure.
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Serves: 2
- Calories per serving: 276 calories
- Whole wheat flour: 1 cup
- Coconut milk/soy/almond milk: 1 cup
- Ground flax: 1 tbsp
- Chopped fresh spinach: 1 cup
- Chopped shallots: ½ cup
- Cashew paste: 1 tbsp
- Ground nutmeg: ½ tsp
- Blend all the ingredients for the crepe in a blender until smooth.
- To a heated pan, add the chopped spinach and shallots
- Cook until the leaves wilt. Add cashew paste and nutmeg powder
- Mix well.
- Keep it aside.
- Prepare roti
- Add the spinach mix to the roti.
Chickpea and Vegetable Salad
- Preparation time -5 minutes
- Serves -2
- Calories-170 per serving
- Cooked chickpeas: 1 cup
- Cooked sliced mushroom: ½ cup
- Chopped Carrots: ½ cup
- Sliced tomatoes: ¼ cup
- Red bell pepper: ¼ cup
- Crushed almonds: 1 tbsp
- Salt: a pinch
- Crushed pepper: ½ tsp
- Lemon juice: ½ tsp
- Mix all the ingredients.
Some More Dinner Meal Options for High Blood Pressure
Besides the sample healthy recipes above, you can choose from various meals to help you regulate your blood pressure levels. Some of them are:
- Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Taco Bowls
- Stuffed Rotis
- Palak Dal
- Potato and Chickpea Curry
- Vegan Mushroom Bolognese
- Mong Daal and Veg Cheela
- Chickpea Quinoa Bowl
- Vegetable Chowder
- Rajma Curry wit brown rice
- Lettuce Wraps
- Roasted Vegetables and Bean Tacos
- Stuffed Cabbage
You can refer to the guide on foods you should consume to lower blood pressure and create healthy recipes. A vegetarian diet offers you several ingredients to choose from. So, healthify yourself with these fantastic recipes. However, you should also know what foods to avoid.
Foods to Avoid to Lower your High Blood Pressure
- Salt and Sodium: Excess salt is one of the major causes of high blood pressure and cardiac diseases. Salt causes fluid retention in your body and as a result, it exerts a load on blood vessels and the heart, thus resulting in high blood pressure.
- Sugar: Excess glucose increases insulin levels. Insulin causes the reabsorption of sodium. It prevents the elimination of fluids out of the body, thus resulting in blood pressure. Moreover, insulin inhibits the sensitivity of the blood pressure receptors. Abnormal use of refined sugar induces weight gain as well which further complicates high blood pressure.
- Alcohol: In general, alcohol harms your health. Alcohol damages the walls of the blood vessels and reduces the nitrates in your body which help dilate your blood vessels, thus resulting in uninterrupted blood circulation. The deficiency of nitrates causes constriction of blood vessels resulting in high blood pressure. Therefore, regular alcohol use may cause obesity, heart failure, and stroke.
- Caffeine: A study states that caffeine in coffee, tea and other food products increases blood pressure. Moreover, they may interact with the medication for blood pressure. Therefore, it makes them ineffective or delays the onset of action.
- Processed Foods: Processed food has high trans fats. They are unhealthy fats that may accumulate along your blood vessels, thus resulting in clots and increased blood pressure. Therefore it is recommended to avoid processed food for a healthy heart.
- High Fat Dairy Products: Dairy products like butter and cheese are high in sodium. It induces an increase in blood pressure. They may also cause weight gain, obesity, diabetes and furthermore.
- Canned and Pickled Food: Canned food, including pickles, are high in sodium. The use of salt is for brining to increase the shelf life. They further result in high blood pressure. Similar amounts contain canned and packaged broths and stocks, elevating your blood pressure.
Tips to Prevent High Blood Pressure
Hypertension can be prevented and cured with a healthy and nutritious diet and lifestyle. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and whole grains.
- Avoid refined flours, unhealthy fats or junk food.
- Switch to a vegetarian diet as much as possible.
- Reduce added salt and sugar consumption.
- Avoid cigarettes and alcohol which damage your arterial walls.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Schedule a regular well-planned exercise or workout regimen.
- Get a good amount of sleep (preferably 8 hours) each night.
- Try various techniques like meditation and deep breathing to control stress.
- If on medication, continue consuming it diligently.
Blood pressure management with a vegetarian diet is effective diet therapy. The wide range of multi-nutrient fruits and vegetables help achieve a healthier blood pressure. Apart from the diet, you need to modify your lifestyle for the best results. It includes regular workouts and skipping unhealthy habits like smoking and alcohol.
Excess of any food (even those that you may consider beneficial) may result in imbalances or nutritional deficiencies. Therefore it is ideal for checking with your health care provider before making any new changes in your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
Q. What is a good meal without meat?
A. A good meal without meat includes fruits and vegetables and multigrain products. It also consists of cottage cheese or tofu, bean and legumes, lentils, etc. You can create exciting recipes with these ingredients.
Q. What do vegetarians not eat?
A. Vegetarians don’t eat any meat or meat products like chicken, eggs, beef, turkey, and likewise. They also refrain from fish or seafood, gelatin and other animal fats.
Q. What do vegetarians eat in the morning?
A. Vegetarian diet in the morning may vary according to the people and their location. However, the most common vegetarian breakfast includes eggless toast, pancakes, and smoothies. It also contains stuffed flatbreads, fruits, juices and likewise.
Q. Can vegetarians have high blood pressure?
A. Yes, vegetarians may have high blood pressure. However, it is comparatively less than non-vegetarians. Hence, it is better to have a vegetarian diet.
Q. Are blood pressure and heart rate related?
A. Yes, blood pressure and heart rate are related. Heart rate is the number of beats per minute. As the heart beats faster, the blood pressure increases.
Q. Does blood pressure increase after food?
A. Yes, your blood pressure fluctuates slightly after a meal. A meal with high sodium can elevate your blood pressure for some time. At the same time, foods high in saturated fats can lead to long-term issues.