High blood pressure has no symptoms, but it can lead to the leading killers in this country, such as heart attack or stroke, aneurysms, and kidney failure.Â The good news is you can make healthy lifestyle changes that will help control it and keep you off medications which we all know have side effects.Â
Here are some ways to eat to reduce hypertension:Â
1.Â Eat lots of vegetables, some fruit (limit 2 servings per day), whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
2.Â Limit red meat.Â It is very difficult for your body to digest red meat.Â Instead, choose chicken or fish or try buffalo meat.
3.Â Cut back on sodium and keep to 1,500 mg. or less per day.Â One half teaspoon of salt contains 1,200 mg., so watch for sodium in processed foods and learn to season your food with fresh lemon, herbs, and salt-free seasonings.
4.Â Eat potassium-rich foods like bananas (eat 1/2 of the banana and share the other half), acorn squash, dried apricots and peaches, prunes, spinach, Swiss chard, and low-sodium tomato juice.Â Potassium has been shown to lower systolic (the top number) by about 5 points and diastolic (the lower number) by about 3 points.
5.Â Eat more high fiber foods because it will reduce your risk of developing insulin resistance and weight gain both of which are factors for having high blood pressure.Â Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber per day.
6.Â Drink alcohol in moderation.Â This means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of red wine or 1.5 ounces of alcohol which can lower your risk for heart disease and hypertension.
7.Â Limit caffeine – caffeine does raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and can actually magnify the effects of stress.Â When you are under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood and caffeine exaggerates this process.
Of course, oneof the best techniques for lowering blood pressure and preventing hypertension is to practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga or tai chi.Â These types of exercises calm the nervous system that can lower blood pressure naturallyÂ by slowing down your breathing rate.Â Find an instructor and class you can enjoy, look forward to, and attend on a regular basis.Â
The most important factor to consider when trying to reduce hypertension is to do whatever you can to lose weight.Â How can you do it?Â Eat less and exercise more.Â A tiny drop in blood pressure can reduce strokes and heart disease dramatically, saving thousands of lives each year.Â
Sherry L. Granader, ACE, AFAA, NETA, ACSM, BBU