Blood Pressure Education

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The Tightrope Balance

Pamela J. Speich, Ukrop’s Registered Dietitian, helps clients visualize someone walking on a tight rope, trying to balance sodium on one side and three other minerals on the other (postassium, magnesium and calcium).

She explains that while a diet high in sodium is the main culprit for causing high blood pressure, the three other minerals are important, too. A diet high in sodium can cause blood pressure to increase, while eating foods high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium can help decrease it. Keeping these minerals in balance is the key to lowering high blood pressure. The best way to achieve this balance is through diet. Here are her tips:

• Fruits and veggies contain potassium and magnesium, so increase your intake of these to at least 5-9 servings a day.

• Lowfat dairy products contain calcium. Aim to get 3 servings of these daily.

• Sodium is found in canned goods like soups and vegetables, many convenience-type foods, such as chips, pretzels and frozen foods, add salt. Try to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,400 mg a day by eating fewer processed foods and more plain foods, seasoning with herbs and spices instead of salt and buying low-sodium canned soups and vegetables.

And she always gets the supplement question, “What if I don’t like fruits and vegetables … can I take supplements to lower my blood pressure?” Her answer: “No – the research shows the improvement comes by changing your diet. Always consult your physician before starting any supplement.”

Wellness Program

Theresa Kremer, RD, Wellness Program, University of Kentucky, holds an event called “A Holiday for Health&Humor, Kentucky Style” complete with a 5K in May. This event celebrates the health and rich culture of their bluegrass state. The day’s events include a 5K race/fitness walk and a wellness fair with blood pressure measurement and chair massages. FMI visit their Web site, which features other events (www.uky.edu/HR/wellness/).

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