A Menu for Hypertension

This is an example of a lifestyle approach to manage high blood pressure, including lifestyle changes, dietary factors and a menu example.

High blood pressure is one of the risk factors for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD); a chronic lifestyle disease.  CHD is a slow process and starts with fatty deposit build up on the inner walls of the arteries of the heart and the brain.  This may lead to narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart and the brain with oxygen, and this may lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Ideal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg.  If one’s blood pressure is regularly higher than 140/90, one has high blood pressure.

Risk factors contributing to an increased risk for CHD:

  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • A family history of CHD

Recommended lifestyle changes:

  1. Weight management – if one is overweight, losing weight can decrease blood pressure (resulting in less medication being required)
  2. Regular exercise – improve fitness levels gradually (e.g. brisk walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, climbing steps, rowing, aerobic classes)
  3. Stop smoking
  4. Stress management
  5. Sufficient sleep


Using the DASH diet approach:


  • fruits and vegetables
  • low-fat or nonfat dairy
  • beans, SOYA**
  • nuts


  • fatty meats
  • full-fat dairy products
  • sugar-sweetened beverages
  • sweets
  • sodium (salt)*

*Limit salt (sodium) intake – no more than 1 tsp/day in total.

Salty facts:

  • Many so-called “health foods” are high in sodium
  • Most of the salt in our diet is found in processed foods
  • Bread is the single highest contributor to the total salt intake of South Africans
  • The World Health Organisation sees hypertension as a bigger health risk than smoking
  • A high-salt diet is a leading cause of high blood pressure and high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke.
  • A reduction of salt intake by 2 grams per day reduces cardiovascular events by 20%.

Cut down on salt by reading labels carefully and also by becoming aware of salt, tailoring shopping habits to lower salt content foods. The aim should be to reduce salt slowly and to look out for high-salt foods and buy alternatives instead. In time the body will adjust and eating a healthy low-salt diet will become much less of a chore – and will actually become a pleasure instead. 

  • Avoid food with a high sodium content:

Classification of foods by salt content

Low in saltModerate in saltHigh in saltVery high in salt
Can be included in diet on a daily basis
Can be included in dietDo not eat regularly and only eat small amountsAvoid eating these foods
Pasta, durum wheat
Cooked beef/chicken
Grilled fish
Peanuts, unsalted
Cashew nuts, unsalted
Commercial mayonnaise
Olive oil
Flora extra light
Homemade soup
Tomato sauce, small
Tomato chutney
Low salt beef stock
Sweet & sour sauce
Peanut butter, salt-free
Mixed herbs
Fresh and frozen vegetables
Fresh fruit
Soy sauce (low sodium)
Tuna in water
Fish cakes, homemade
Mozarella cheese
Cottage cheese
Homemade gravy
Commercial muesli
Sliced cooked ham
Vienna sausages
Camembert cheese
Processed cheese
Cheddar cheese
Brick margarine
Gravy, made with powder
Barbeque sauce
Soy sauce (regular)
Unsalted chips
2 Minute Noodles
Smoked fish
Fish cakes, commercial
Salted peanuts
Salted chips
Nuts, salted
Salted popcorn
Packet soup, commercial
Feta cheese
Table salt
All tinned products
  • Read labels on food packages, avoid the following ingredients:

    • baking powder
    • baking soda
    • disodium phosphate
    • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
    • Sodium alginate
    • Sodium benzoate
    • Sodium hydroxide
    • Sodium nitrate (often found in smoked foods)
    • Sodium proprionate
    • Sodium sulfite

Practical tips:

  • Add salt while preparing your food and not raw at the table.
  • When tinned foods must be used, drain and rinse to remove salt.
  • Use the following to flavor food:
    • A slice of lemon or lemon juice
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Tabasco Sauce
    • Garlic, ginger, peppers, dry mustard, pepper, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, parsley
    • Moderate amounts of wine and fruit juice can be added to meat
    • Fresh herbs like turmeric, oregano, rosemary and marjoram
    • Some spices like curry and cinnamon can also be used, check the label for sodium content.


Isoflavones — a compound found in soy foods — may help lower blood pressure.

It has been shown that those who consume high amounts of isoflavones per day (more than 2.5 milligrams [mg]) can reduce blood pressure.

In practical terms: 1 cup (250ml) soy milk has about 22 mg of isoflavones; and 100 grams of roasted soybeans has 130 mg of isoflavones.


Meal Non-VegetarianVegetarian
(alternative: Cholesterol-lowering Smoothie)
250ml Soya Life Porridge / Oats porridge + 2 scoops Soya Life porridge
+ Soya life milk / skim milk
(optional: add in 1Tbs seed mix)
2 slices low GI bread (toast)
+ 1 boiled / poached egg / cottage cheese and avocado / sardines

PLUS: 1 fresh Fruit
250ml Soya Life Porridge / Oats porridge / High Fibre cereal
+ Soya life milk / skim milk
(optional: add in 1Tbs seed mix)
2 slices low GI bread (toast)
+ hummus / avocado / peanut butter

PLUS: 1 fresh Fruit
Mid-morning snack1 fresh fruit1 fresh fruit
Lunch2 slices low GI bread
+ low fat filling (low fat cheese / lean chicken / tuna mayo / lean cold meat / hummus)
+ salad (incl. 3-bean salad) / soup
Leftovers from previous night’s dinner
Soya Life Instant Meal replacement Drink: 250ml
2 slices low GI bread
+ low fat filling (hummus / egg / cottage cheese / soya patty)
Leftovers from previous night’s dinner
Soya Life Instant Meal replacement Drink: 250ml
Mid-afternoon snack1 fresh fruit1 fresh fruit
Supper½ -1 cup cooked rice / pasta OR 3 baby potatoes
+ palm-size portion lean meat / chicken OR hand-size portion baked fish (add beans or lentils)
+ 3 x different coloured vegetables
½ -1 cup cooked rice / pasta OR 3 baby potatoes
+ ⅓ cup beans / lentils / chickpeas OR soya strips / patties OR low fat cheese
+ 3 x different coloured vegetables
Extra tipsDrink 6-8 glasses water/day
Limit salt intake


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