There’s a good chance that your blood pressure is too high. And it’s likely that you don’t even know it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in three adults in the US has high blood pressure or hypertension. An equal number have prehypertension – blood pressure that’s higher than normal, but not as high as the hypertension range. The vast majority of adults have blood pressure readings that need attention. Only about half of those with high blood pressure have their numbers under control. And about 20% don’t even know they have it.
Your Blood Pressure Matters
It’s normal for blood pressure to vary throughout the day. It should rise during physical exertion and drop during rest. But if it stays high, it can damage your heart, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and eyes. High blood pressure contributes to about 1,100 deaths each day. For that reason, and because high blood pressure is often without symptoms, it’s been dubbed the “silent killer.”
5 Diet Hacks
You can improve your blood pressure by eating foods with less sodium and those with more potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. Losing weight, if overweight, and avoiding or cutting back on alcohol intake are also helpful. And don’t forget the exercise!
Get started on your healthier path with these 5 diet hacks.
- Rinse canned beans and vegetables. You’ll wash away about 40% of the sodium in canned beans when you drain and rinse them.
- Eat fruits and/or vegetables with every meal and snack. These are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium and other nutrients for healthy blood pressure.
- Use half the seasoning pack. When cooking a packaged dish with a seasoning pack, trim half the sodium by using only half of the seasonings. You probably won’t need anything more, but feel free to sprinkle additional sodium-free herbs and spices from your spice rack or add a fresh squeeze of lemon to further boost flavor if you'd like.
- Sprinkle nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, almonds, etc give us a healthy dose of magnesium, an important mineral for blood pressure management. Toss some on salads, over chopped fruit, or on steamed vegetables. And while you’re at it, get some of these other wholesome sources of magnesium: peas, beans, lentils, spinach, wheat germ, avocado, brown rice and salmon.
- Enjoy low-fat or nonfat dairy. Yogurt for breakfast. Milk in your latte. Look for ways to incorporate dairy into your meals and snacks. It’s likely that the combination of dairy nutrients – calcium, magnesium, and potassium -- with dairy protein is the reason for the dairy and healthy blood pressure connection.
By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND
Stephanie Ronco has been editing in a professional capacity for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as an editor, Ronco has also served as a ghostwriter and writing tutor. A voracious reader, Ronco loves watching language evolve and change. When she’s not delving into her latest project, Ronco can be found teaching acting classes, performing in community theater, or sailing with her husband.