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What's the Best Diet for Hypertensive Seniors?

What's the Best Diet for Hypertensive Seniors?

Diet is a crucial part of making sure that patients achieve their target blood pressure readings. The good news is, the guidelines for a heart-healthy diet are straight to the point and easy to follow. But do these guidelines change when the patient is elderly? Here’s what you need to know about the diet for elderly with hypertension.

Heart-Healthy Diet, Explained

Experts say a heart-healthy diet is great for people with hypertension. But what exactly is a heart-healthy diet?

The American Heart Association explains that a heart-healthy diet means you need to get nutrition from healthy sources. Generally, it means you need to¹:

Have a diet filled with:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Skinless fish and poultry
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils

And limit your intake of:

  • Red meat
  • Sodium
  • Sugary drinks
  • Saturated and trans fats

Of course, besides the food choices, you also need to have good portion control.

The DASH and Mediterranean Diets

We cannot talk about the diet for elderly with diabetes without talking about the DASH and Mediterranean diets, which experts also considered heart-healthy.

The DASH Diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, consists of foods low in sodium and saturated fats, but rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Reports say it can lower the blood pressure in just half a month². Learn more about the other basics of the DASH diet here:

On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and legumes, and nuts. It also consists of a moderate intake of fish, dairy, and wine, with little emphasis on meat.

In a study published in the American Heart Association Journals, the researchers concluded that the Mediterranean diet is an effective way of improving cardiovascular health in older adults. Moreover, it also resulted in relevant reductions in blood pressure and arterial stiffness³.

Diet for Elderly with Hypertension, Recommendations from Experts

In general, doctors still recommend a heart-healthy diet to hypertensive seniors. They also have good feedback on the DASH and Mediterranean diets.

Case in point: the National Institute on Aging advised older people with hypertension to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. They also recommend a diet low in sodium (particularly, the DASH diet) and one with a limited intake of alcohol⁴.

Another report said that a diet for elderly with hypertension should be heart-healthy. It specifically mentioned the DASH and Mediterranean diets, along with low-carb, plant-based, and vegetarian diets.

The other things to consider, according to the report, are low sodium intake, potassium supplementation, magnesium supplements, fiber, probiotics, increased protein intake, flaxseeds, and the consumption of garlic, dark chocolate, coffee, tea, and fish oil⁵.

The bottom line is that the diet for elderly with hypertension seems to be consistent with the diets recommended for younger hypertensive patients.

Diet for Elderly with Hypertension: Additional Considerations

While the diet for people who need to control their blood pressure seems the same regardless of age, please note that there are considerations for the elderly.

For instance, many older adults may have an underlying health issue or maintenance medicines that may impact their nutritional needs. Additionally, seniors often have a slower metabolism, reduced lean mass, and a lack of physical activity. This may mean their nutritional requirements are lower. Of course, their emotional health also comes into play: feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression may lead to changes in dietary habits.

Since each person is unique, the best course of action is to have an in-depth discussion with your doctor. Based on your needs, health status, and preference, they will help you put together a meal plan that’s best for your blood pressure and overall well-being.

Learn more about Nutrition for Aging here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1 Managing Blood Pressure with a Heart-Healthy Diet, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/managing-blood-pressure-with-a-heart-healthy-diet, Accessed October 23, 2021

2 DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456, Accessed October 23, 2021

3 Mediterranean-Style Diet Improves Systolic Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Older Adults, https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.118.12259, Accessed October 23, 2021

4 High Blood Pressure, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/high-blood-pressure#how, Accessed October 23, 2021

5 Hypertension in older adults: Assessment, management, and challenges, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/clc.23303, Accessed October 23, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Oct 25
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran