High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is cause for concern. Fortunately, most people are aware of this, as is demonstrated by the fact that it is the second most common reason for people going to doctor in the United States, according to the E Medicine Health website. If not controlled, high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. The good news is that you can take measures to control high blood pressure just by what you choose to eat.
Eat a DASH Diet
Eating the right foods helps prevent you from getting high blood pressure and in lowering an already elevated blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The NHLBI recommends you eat a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH method uses diet to help you control your blood pressure. The basics of DASH are to eat whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. You will avoid consuming red meats, fats, sweets and sugared drinks.
Keep Sodium Low
Another component to keep your blood pressure at a safe level is to reduce your sodium intake. The NHLBI says that even people who do not follow the DASH diet, but who reduce their sodium intake, will lower their blood pressure. The people who gain the most benefits do both. Follow the DASH diet and limit your sodium level to 1,500mg per day.
To follow DASH, you first need to determine how many calories a day you should be eating, because maintaining a healthy weight is important in lowering your blood pressure. Determine if you are sedentary, whereby you only do light physical activity as part of your daily routine; moderately active, where you do the equivalent of walking 1.5 to 3 miles a day plus light physical activity or if you are active, where you do the equivalent of walking more than 3 miles a day plus light physical activity.
How Many Calories To Eat
If you are age 19 to 30 and sedentary, you need to eat 2,000 calories a day. If you are moderately active, you need 2,000 to 2,200 calories, and if you are active, you need 2,400 calories. Women who are 31 to 50 and are sedentary need 1,800 calories. Moderately active women need 2,000 and active women need 2,200. Women who are older than 50 and are sedentary need 1,600 calories. Moderately active women need 1,800 calories and active women need 2,000 to 2,200.
A good eating plan using 2,000 calories a day as an example will include six to eight servings of grains. It will also include four to five servings of fruit, four to five servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products. You will also eat six or fewer servings of meat, poultry and fish, four to five servings per week of nuts, seeds and legumes, two to three servings of fats and oils and five or less servings per week of sweets. An example of eating this way for a day would be having ½ cup of instant oatmeal with a banana and 1-cup low-fat milk and a whole-wheat bagel with 1 tbsp. peanut butter for breakfast. For lunch, you would have a chicken breast sandwich on whole-wheat bread with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise with cantaloupe on the side and apple juice to drink. For dinner, you would have spaghetti with red sauce and 3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese with a spinach salad containing carrots, mushrooms and vinegar and oil dressing. Have fruit for dessert.
Good Food Choices
According to the NHLBI, examples of grains would be whole-wheat bread and rolls, whole-wheat pasta, bagel, cereal, grits, brown rice, pretzels and popcorn. Good vegetables are broccoli, carrots, green beans, green peas, potatoes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. For fruits, choose apples, bananas, apricots, dates, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, melons, pineapples, raisins and strawberries. Select lean meats and trim away any fat. Remove the skin from poultry and broil, roast or poach instead of frying. Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, kidney beans, lentils and split peas are more good choices. When choosing cooking oil, choose olive, canola, corn or safflower. Also, use low-fat mayonnaise and light salad dressing.
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