Taxi and For-hire Vehicle (FHV) drivers have a higher risk for high blood pressure due to the stressful nature of their job, their physical inactivity, poor dietary habits and lack of health care access. However, there is an eating plan that you can follow to help you have a healthy blood pressure, keep your weight at a good level, and meet your nutritional needs!
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is a heart-healthy eating plan low in fat and cholesterol and high in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber. With a few simple changes, you can incorporate the DASH plan into your current diet.
One goal of the DASH diet is to lower sodium (salt) and increase calcium, magnesium and potassium. Try to replace the salt you use to flavor your food with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar or wine. Avoid eating foods like Jollof and avoid brining your fish and other meats. To get more calcium, magnesium and potassium, eat low-fat or fat-free dairy products and eat fish like sardines, mackerel and canned salmon. If you do not eat dairy, start by eating low-fat yogurt or drinking low-fat milk once a day and slowly increase it to two or three times a day.
You should also try to increase your fiber, vegetable and fruit intake, while lowering your intake of meat. Try adding a serving of vegetables, such as ½ cup of cooked greens, to one of your meals each day, and replace one of your snacks with a serving of fruit. Dark leafy greens in particular are great for controlling your blood pressure.
You can also try to make one or two of your meals vegetarian style, or meatless, each week. You can replace meat with other sources of protein such as nuts, seeds and legumes – a group of foods that includes peas, lentils and beans. Also increase your fiber intake by eating more whole grains, such as brown rice or barley.
If you do not eat whole grains, start by mixing them in with the grains you eat. For example, try making your rice half brown rice and half white rice. Eventually, you should try to eat four to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, six to eight servings of whole grains per day, and four to five servings of nuts, seeds and legumes per week.
Finally, you should eat fewer sweets and fats. Start replacing sugary beverages like juice and soda with water. Avoid fried foods and cook with healthier oils, such as canola oil or olive oil, instead of palm oil. You should use no more than two to three teaspoons of oil a day. Also, use low-fat milk instead of coconut milk or cream.
By changing your diet a little bit at a time, you will be on your way to a heart-healthy eating plan. As you drive around the City, do not forget to make the DASH for a healthy diet!
For more information, call the Taxi Network, a community organization for taxi drivers.