What to Eat and Not Eat to Prevent High Blood Pressure

What to Eat and Not Eat to Prevent High Blood Pressure    

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, affects about a third of all adults in the United States. Another third have prehypertension, where their blood pressure is high but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as hypertension. Often, high blood pressure has no symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to have your doctor measure it during your annual medical checkup.

High blood pressure is easy to get under control, but if left unchecked, it can lead to life-threatening conditions such as stroke, heart attack, and other serious heart issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 50% of those with high blood pressure have it under control.

In addition to exercising and losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, following a healthy eating plan is one of the best ways to prevent or manage high blood pressure.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure is when the force of your blood is too high on a consistent basis. Your blood pressure consists of two numbers, the systolic blood pressure number, and the diastolic blood pressure measurement.

The systolic number, the top number, is the pressure of your blood pushing against the artery walls when your heart beats. The diastolic number, which is the bottom number, is the measurement of the pressure of your blood while your heart is at rest between beats. Normal blood pressure is a number less than 120 over less than 80.

High blood pressure is more common in older people because of stiffening arteries and plaque buildup.

What to Eat to Prevent or Manage High Blood Pressure

A heart-healthy diet helps prevent heart disease as well as high blood pressure, a major contributor to heart disease. What is a heart-healthy diet? It’s a diet rich in:

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan, which has been clinically proven to lower blood pressure, provides a framework for incorporating these heart-healthy foods into your diet. Although the name says it’s for people with high blood pressure, people with normal blood pressure levels who follow a DASH eating style can lower their risk of developing high blood pressure.

What to Avoid or Limit to Prevent High Blood Pressure

In addition to eating heart-healthy foods, you can further decrease your risk of developing high blood pressure by reducing consumption or eliminating the following foods and beverages:

Salt, or sodium, is probably the key item on your list of foods to limit and possibly a fairly simple one to minimize. One study found that people who followed the DASH diet and also cut down on their sodium intake had significantly lower blood pressure measurements.

To reduce your intake of sodium, eat fresh foods and avoid frozen meals since frozen meals usually have high levels of salt. Use other flavorful spices and herbs to flavor your food instead of salt. Read the labels on any packaged food item and make a note of the sodium per serving number.

Additionally, increasing your intake of potassium can counterbalance the effects of salt. So be sure to add foods high in potassium such as bananas and sweet potatoes to your list of things to eat.

For more information on how to prevent high blood pressure, call Danvers Family Doctors, P.C.,  in Danvers, Massachusetts, or make an appointment online.

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