Did you know that 45% of adults in the US have hypertension? Hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure, is defined as systolic blood pressure when it is above 130 and diastolic blood pressure when it is above 80. This condition increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death for Americans. While genetics may play a role, there are far more significant factors that contribute to hypertension, such as our choices in diet and lifestyle. Here are some tips to help prevent you from getting hypertension.
Limit sodium intake to 2,000mg a day.
Many people attempt to reduce their sodium intake by choosing low sodium versions of processed foods. A better option is to choose whole foods like natural proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds instead. These are naturally low in sodium. By flavoring dishes with spices and herbs, you can enjoy delicious foods without adding salt.
We find processed foods in many forms, like prepared meals and restaurant dishes. Many deceptively labeled foods can seem like a healthy choice, but actually are high in sodium and contribute to hypertension. For example, Amy’s Organics Sweet & Sour Bowl has 790mg of sodium and Chili’s “Guiltless Grilled Chicken” has 2,340mg of sodium!
Eat more non-starchy vegetables.
Not only are non-starchy vegetables low in sodium, they are high in blood pressure lowering fiber. Aim for making half of your plate vegetables at each meal.
Foods that have been shown to support healthy blood pressure include:
- Beets and beet greens
- Cold water fatty fish like salmon and sardines
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Olive oil
- Berries and pomegranates
Avoid or limit alcohol.
Having more than three drinks in one sitting can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. This practice repeated over time can lead to long term increases. Men over 65 and all women should limit their alcohol intake to one drink or less per day. Men under 65 should limit their intake to two drinks per day or less. Keep in mind that one drink is 12oz of beer, 5oz of wine, or 1.5oz of liquor.