Known as the silent killer, hypertension (or high blood pressure), affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States. It’s a major contributor to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. It affects every single part of the body… yes guys, EVERY part of the body.
Here are some strategies to help you get your blood pressure in check:
- Lose weight. Although normal weight individuals can have high blood pressure, blood pressure often increases with weight. Losing just 10 pounds could help reduce your blood pressure.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily. You’ve heard this one since grade school – it needs no explanation. But know that there’s strong evidence in the power of fruits and vegetables to improve health and reduce your risk for heart disease. Aim for at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables daily.
- Eat your greens, beans and whole grains. These are all good sources of magnesium which helps promote healthy blood pressure.
- Add flavor not just salt. It’s no secret that high sodium intake is not recommended. In fact, African-Americans, people 50 and over and those who already have high blood pressure, should limit sodium intake to less than 1500 milligrams a day. Instead of seasoned salt, onion salt and well… salt, experiment with other ways to season your food. Add amazing flavor to chicken with a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil and rosemary. Finish the dish with a pinch of salt to bring it all together but don’t let it be the star of the dish.
- Get adequate potassium. Sodium often steals the show when it comes to blood pressure. But potassium is just as important. In fact, potassium blunts the affects of sodium in the body and therefore help lower blood pressure levels. Go beyond bananas to get plenty of potassium from sweet potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, yogurt or fish.
- Do the DASH. The DASH diet combines many of the tips above and has been shown to effectively reduce blood pressure levels.
- Be active. Engage in some form of physical activity every week – at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise is recommended. You can break this down to 30 minutes 5 days a week or even smaller increments of 10 minutes or more. Just get moving.
- If you drink, do so in moderation.
- Reduce and manage stress.
- Don’t smoke.
Image courtesy alice_henneman on flickr