Africa in general and Nigeria, in particular, has a high number of the population which is usually on the heavy side.
As a result, there are a higher number of issues which pertain to hypertension and high blood pressure and the resultant effects.
This is of course directly related to the higher fat content present in Nigeria foods which produces the high calories that cause this serious condition.
While you may love our local dishes, you also have to note the fact that the traditional ways and means of preparation of such dishes may actually be damaging to your health; especially if you’re one of those people who have the propensity to be overweight or obese.
This is where the DASH dieting method comes into play (DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
This approach to dieting is to enable the individual most predisposed to hypertension and high blood pressure related issues to be able to use diet as an effective tool to maintain health.
Eating healthy is a very important part of healthcare.
Sadly, in Nigeria today, we mistake eating healthy for consumption of food in large quantities.
The so-called “enjoyment factor” has made Nigerians use the eating healthy fad to consume large quantities of unhealthy fat and oil which are generally responsible for hypertension and blood pressure related issues which such people face later in life.
In order to be able to balance the eating healthy and also to have the “enjoyment factor” without which life would be incomplete in the life of a typical Nigerian, the following factors have been considered and are discussed below:
1. Focus on your greens
While so much has been said on the usefulness of vegetables as regards weight loss, much hasn’t been said on the benefits of greens when it comes to hypertension prevention.
Greens are best known for their ability to reduce excess amounts of sodium in the body.
It is already known and established fact that a higher amount of sodium than is needed in the body is a major contributor to hypertension.
Eating healthy requires that you also consume sodium in just the right quantity.
Vegetables contain the compounds that are needed in order for you to be able to do this effectively.
Our local spinach comes to mind. Others include but are not limited to kale, lettuce, cabbage and so on and so forth.
2. Use lower fat and oil
Since it’s a known fact that a lot of the lipids you consume is neither friendly to the heart nor to the circulatory system, it’s best to use low-fat alternatives to prepare meals.
Soya oil and palm oil come to mind in this regard.
Many of our traditional soups are oil based and as such higher calorie content exists in such soups and stews.
The use of lower-calorie oils will help to be able to lower the calories and reduce the consumption of those lipids which are dangerous to human health.
Consumption of yogurt rather than milk also lowers the risk of hypertension in an individual.
3. Try to eat white meat
In general, red meat is known to have higher cholesterol content than other forms of meats.
The use of white meat especially as you grow older makes you less susceptible to hypertension and its related diseases.
White meats are lean and so the cholesterol content is much lower than compared to the fatty content of red meat.
Examples of white meats are poultry meat such as turkey and chicken.
4. Lots of fish wouldn’t hurt
Fish is rich in Omega fatty acids and they’re known to be helpful to the brain and tissue repair in that area.
The consumption of plenty of fish is not only sumptuous to the plate but it is also beneficial to you as well.
Fish are high in proteins and are also known to contain vitamin D which is very useful when it comes to the lowering of blood pressure.
5. Snack on Seeds
Your local Ugwu seeds may not be noticed by you but it is known to be rich in potassium.
Sesame seeds and others such as Moringa seeds are also great for not only for hypertension prevention but also for the maintenance of overall health.
6. Bananas all the way
While others may depend on food supplements for their recommended daily allowance of potassium, bananas provide that and serve as a sweet tasting snack (for those of you who have sweet teeth) which is healthy.
Take one or two at lunch!
7. Don’t Avoid Garlic
While most may not like the “garlic breath” situation, those small cloves contain Nitric Oxide which is responsible for keeping the arteries wide; this helps in the maintenance of lower blood pressure.
So when you’re not going out to do stuff with friends, you can have garlic breath! It’s healthy!
8. Avoid Sugars
The artificial sugars that are added to sodas and other sweetened products are the ones which increase calories and lead to weight gain.
Naturally occurring sugars, on the other hand, do far less damage and are even more beneficial to you as a person.
If you intend to eat healthily, then you must be able to limit the artificial sugars you consume.
Apart from the hypertension-related issues which sugars bring via weight gain, you’d also be beating diabetic related issues in the process.
Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
9. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol is known to increase blood pressure. This is, of course, one of the issues which produce the hypertension problem later down the line.
Avoiding alcohol totally helps!
10. Lower your salt intake
The human body is known to contain the highest concentration of sodium. The maximum concentration needed for the individual is about 6 milligrams daily.
Anything beyond that and it is indeed dangerous. People at risk with tendencies towards hypertension should even consider going without salt.
It will go a long way in the prevention of hypertension-related issues as sodium is a major factor in hypertension.
While there is no complete way to reduce the risks associated with hypertension, healthy eating is one surefire way which can be used to drastically reduce the risks.
Are there any other ways you know which you can use to aid healthy eating and maintain blood pressure?
Please let me know in the comments!
Written by: Christopher Haruna Hamman is a strategist, Writer, and Entrepreneur. He also writes extensively for internet, publishing, film, and television.