Did you know 1 out of every 3 Americans have high blood pressure?
And another 1 out of 3 have pre-hypertension (blood pressure over 120/80, but lower than 140/90). High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and dementia. But the good news is, the right diet, weight loss and exercise can help prevent or control high blood pressure.
What is the right diet?
#1: A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and dairy has been shown to effectively lower blood pressure. The key is knowing how much of each of these food groups you need. Your family history, whether you need to lose or maintain your current weight and other medical conditions determine how much of these foods you should eat each day. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) can provide a personalized food plan to help you know exactly how much of these foods you need to achieve your health goals.
#2: A whole foods diet. Why? Because whole, unprocessed foods are lower in sodium than processed, packaged foods, fast food and most restaurant meals. Too much sodium in our diet increases the risk of high blood pressure, especially for people who are "salt-sensitive". For these people, a high sodium diet increases the chances of developing high blood pressure (hypertension). Or another way to look at it, people who are "salt sensitive" can lower their blood pressure by decreasing how much salt they consume, Not everyone is "salt sensitive", but there are simple, non-invasive saliva tests now available that can determine whether you're likely to be "salt sensitive" based on your genetic makeup. If you have a family history of hypertension or have high blood pressure yourself, give me a call and check out nutrigenomix.com and geneticdirection.com for more information.
Don't forget to Move More!
Being active helps control weight and blood pressure, which both help prevent heart disease. Women often ask, "How much exercise do I need?" That depends on your health goals and other medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, pre-diabetes and diabetes. All women benefit from at least 30 minutes/day of activity that raises your heart rate. But most of us need 45-60 minutes per day to prevent weight gain and keep our blood pressure under control. Getting into a routine, working smaller segments of activity into a busy day, walking or jogging with a friend, and working with a personal trainer are just a few strategies that work for many of my clients.