High blood pressure, high cholesterol and hypothyroidism --- under active thyroid --- put you at extra risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Any one of these conditions would make you more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes. Suffering from all three could prove a dangerous combination. Fortunately, diet and lifestyle changes as well as medication can greatly improve your heart's health.
Neither high blood pressure nor high cholesterol presents any symptoms until or unless you develop heart disease. Hypothyroidism does present symptoms, which may vary depending on the severity of the problem with your thyroid gland. Some of the symptoms include unexplained weight gain, fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, muscle weakness and depression. Hypothyroidism may also elevate your cholesterol levels. Your doctor may prescribe medication to return your thyroid to proper function. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to treat your high blood pressure and high cholesterol but will almost certainly recommend changes in your eating habits.
Reduce High Blood Pressure
To reduce blood pressure, lower your intake of salt and foods that contain sodium, such as soy sauce and processed meats. You should also increase your consumption of potassium. Foods especially high in potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes with skins, bananas, white beans and soy milk. Nonfat and low-fat dairy products also contain high amounts of potassium, but little cholesterol or fat, so they can improve your blood pressure as well as your cholesterol.
Reduce Dietary Cholesterol and Fat
To reduce your cholesterol, reduce the amount of cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat in your diet. High blood pressure and weight gain from hypothyroidism increase your risk of heart disease. This means you should follow the low-end recommendations for cholesterol and fat intake: 200 mg of cholesterol, 16 g of saturated fat, 2 g of trans fat and 44 g of total fat, including healthy fish and olive oil. MayoClinic.com also recommends you reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, exercise regularly and add fiber --- whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes --- to your eating plan.
Foods that can help you keep sodium and saturated fat intake low and work toward losing weight gained because of your underactive thyroid include lean animal products such as halibut, water-packed tuna and salmon; legumes such as black, kidney and lima beans; whole grains such as oatmeal, wheat bran and brown rice; fruits such as apples, oranges and pears; vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Mayo Clinic: High Cholesterol; June 2010
- American Heart Association; About High Blood Pressure; April 2011
- Mayo Clinic; Hypothyroidism -- Symptoms; June 2010
- United States Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database: Potassium Content of Selected Foods
- University of California San Francisco; Cholesterol Content of Foods; February 2011
- Mayo Clinic; Healthy Diet: End the Guesswork with These Nutrition Guidelines; February 2011