Eating Out and High Blood Pressure – Tips to eat healthy

Eating out when having high blood pressure could be a real problem if your blood pressure values impose salt and lipid restrictions. Food apart from being a biological need makes up a good part of our social and family life and is closely related to our cultural and personal background and experiences. Sometimes dealing with a health condition that requires many dietary restrictions, could make your social life difficult.

The first thing to remember is that simple moderation is the key. Food consumption in small amounts would not be harmful for your health.

As for sodium intake, keep in mind two numbers: 2,300mg/day and 1,500mg/day. The first number stands for the highest amount recommended by the American Heart Association and the second is what your daily target must be.

Some General Clues when Eating Out – How to Choose your Meal from a Fast Food’s or a Restaurant’s Menu

1. Avoid table salt including kosher salt and sea salt. All of them contain the same amount of sodium.

2. Fried vegetables are no better than French fries. Fried eggplants for example may absorb 4 times the amount of fat of an equal portion of potatoes

3. Prefer baked food over fried food.

4. Do not use salad dressings. They contain a lot of salt and preservatives. Olive oil with vinegar is a better alternative.

5. Prefer Pasta and Rice. Whole grain pasta or risotto with seafood, vegetables or fresh tomato sauce.

6. Prefer fish. A type of fat called omega-3 fatty acids is found in fatty fish like mackerel and salmon. But any type of fish would make part of a healthy meal.

7. Choose beef cuts rich in protein. Recent studies suggest that dietary protein lowers blood pressure. Consuming more dietary protein from either plant or animal sources you lower the risk of high blood pressure. Low fat beef cuts rich in protein are the following:

  • Skirt Steak
  • Eye of round stake
  • Top Sirloin
  • Bottom Round
  • Sirloin-Tip Side Steak

8. Choose healthy wraps with:

  • Fresh tomato
  • Fresh cucumber
  • Low fat cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Boiled eggs
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Low fat mayonnaise

9. Avoid pizza because it tends to be high in sodium. A slice of pepperoni pizza, for example, may contain 726 milligrams of sodium.

10. Do not starve yourself before going out for a dinner. Eat some protein rich food before, like a boiled egg, a yogurt or some nuts.

11. Chew your food many times. This will help you to eat a smaller quantity.

12. Some healthy foods actually contain too much salt:

  • Whole wheat bread contains more salt 400mg sodium per slice.
  • Cottage cheese, 400mg sodium per 1/2 cup service.
  • Canned tomato sauce as much as 670mg sodium per serving and enough sugar.

13. Mexican take-out low sodium options:

  • Tortilla chips 8 pieces contain 120mg of sodium.
  • Taco or fajita shell (either hard or soft) usually contains little sodium. It is the meat that contains the greater amount of sodium.
  • Ask for a vegetarian taco filling if available.

14. Chinese food low sodium options:

  • Sauces like soy, oyster, black bean and garlic sauce usually contain huge amount of sodium. Ask for less sauce in the preparation of your meal.
  • Soups are usually prepared with much salt.
  • Appetizers with less salt are spring rolls, lettuce wraps and steamed dumplings.

15. McDonald’s restaurant low sodium options:

  • The Fruit & Maple Oatmeal contains 160 mg.
  • Scrambled Eggs (2 eggs) contain 180 mg.
  • The Hash-browns contain 310 mg.
  • Fruit & Yogurt Parfait contains 80mg.
  • The Cinnamon Melts contain 370 mg.

References

Diets higher in protein predict lower high blood pressure risk in Framingham Offspring Study adults. Buendia JR, Bradlee ML, Singer MR, Moore LL.Am J Hypertens. 2015 Mar;28(3):372-9. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpu157

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