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Blood Pressure, Eating Habits & Sodium




Since we have been talking about risk factors & behavior changes this week, I thought I would start with an extremely common one: BLOOD PRESSURE.


Statistics:

“Half of all Americans have high blood pressure” -NHLBI (1)

“Approximately 1 in 3, more than 100 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only half of those people have their condition under control” - FDA (2)


According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (2):

Hypertension (high blood pressure)- develops when blood flows through your arteries at higher-than-normal pressures. Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: systolic and diastolic (systolic/diastolic)
Systolic pressure is the pressure when the ventricles pump blood out of the heart.
Diastolic pressure is the pressure between heartbeats when the heart is filling with blood.
  • Normal pressure is 120/80 or lower

  • Stage 1 High is 130/80

  • Stage 2 High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher


“If you get a blood pressure reading of 180/110 or higher more than once, seek medical treatment right away" - USFDA (2)



You can improve your blood pressure by making healthy changes in your eating and exercise habits. I’m going to get into the benefits and effect of exercise later this month. This week, let's start looking at what we can do with our nutrition.


One fantastic resource is the DASH diet, which stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” and, just like it sounds, it provides an eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life. Feel free to explore here and talk to your registered dietician, doctor, or medical professional.(3)


Other modifications include reducing or limiting:

  1. Sodium intake

  2. Saturated & Trans Fats

  3. Sweets & Sugars

  4. Fiber & Carbs

  5. Protein

In order to avoid information overload, I am going to look at lowering your sodium intake for today and we will explore the other changes this week.

Sodium Intake


“The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 2,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day, unless you have high blood pressure or if you are at risk (if you have diabetes or kidney disease, or are African American). Then, the recommendation is that you eat 1,500 milligrams of salt a day; that is less than a teaspoon from all your meals and snacks.” (4)


Tips from Web MD(4)):

  • Avoid adding salt to your meals & when eating out, ask your server if they could hold extra added salt to your dish

  • Buy low sodium foods (look for food that have 5% or less of the Daily Value)

  • Completely avoid foods that have 20% or more of the Daily Value

  • Check your seasonings and choose ones that are salt free

  • Limit processed and canned foods- they are generally higher in sodium & preservatives

  • Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store- this is where you will generally find your fresher foods

Action:

A great start would be to start checking labels and increase your awareness of how much sodium is in particular foods.


Even if you do not currently have struggles with blood pressure, becoming more aware and eventually making smart decisions is great preventatively, and odds are someone across the table or visiting you IS struggling- whether they know it or not!


References:
1. National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute. “What is High Blood Pressure”. Mar 24, 2022. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/high-blood-pressure
2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “High Blood Pressure–Understanding the Silent Killer”. fda.gov. Jan 21, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/high-blood-pressure-understanding-silent-killer
3. National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute. “DASH eating plan”. nhlbi.nih.gov. Dec 29, 2012. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan
4. Bruce, Debra. “High Blood Pressure Diet”. Sept 17, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/high-blood-pressure-diet

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