What you choose to eat affects your chances of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension (the medical term).
Recent studies show that blood pressure can be lowered by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan—and by eating less salt, also called sodium.
Limiting sodium to less than 2300mg (1 tsp of salt) per day is the current guideline, but some at-risk individuals should aim to consume no more than 1,500mg of sodium per day.
While each step alone lowers blood pressure, the combination of the eating plan and a reduced sodium intake gives the biggest benefit and may help prevent the development of high blood pressure.
What is Blood Pressure?Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and recorded as two numbers—systolic pressure (when the heart beats) over diastolic pressure (when the heart relaxes between beats). Both numbers are important.
Blood pressure rises and falls during the day, but when it stays elevated over time, then it's called high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard, and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes.
High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms. Once it occurs, it usually lasts a lifetime. If uncontrolled, it can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.
High blood pressure affects more than 65 million—or 1 in 3—American adults.
About 28 percent of American adults, or about 59 million people, have pre-hypertension, a condition that also increases the chance of heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure can be controlled if you take these steps:
All of these steps except the last also help to prevent high blood pressure.
Scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute conducted two key studies. Their findings showed that blood pressures were reduced with an eating plan that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat and that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
This eating plan—known as the DASH eating plan—also includes whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. The plan has less red meat, sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages compared to the typical American diet. It is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber.
For more information about the DASH eating plan including menus and recipes, visit their website:
Source:US Department of Health and Human ServicesNational Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute