High blood pressure is something many adults face at some point in their lives. While it’s a common condition, long-term (chronic) high blood pressure can lead to other serious health conditions, such as heart disease.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, don’t panic. In many cases, healthy lifestyle changes can improve your blood pressure and lower your risk for side effects.
Follow the DASH Eating Plan
A well-balanced, nutritious diet is one way to get you back on track. The DASH Eating Plan (also called the Dash Diet) stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet doesn’t require any special foods, but instead offers a more balanced, nutritious approach to what you eat. It incorporates whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. The DASH Eating Plan is based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
Switching to DASH
Because many of the foods in the DASH plan are high in fiber, you may notice some excess bloating or diarrhea as you adjust to the new diet. With this in mind, try transitioning to the DASH diet gradually. For example, add a piece of fruit or a vegetable serving to one or two meals a day.
It’s also a good idea to spread out servings of fruits and vegetables, rather than trying to knock out servings all in one meal.
Find Foods With Less Sodium
Reducing salt (sodium) in your diet is one of the most important steps you can take to lower your blood pressure. To help lower the amount of sodium you eat, you can:
- Avoid frozen dinners and fast foods, like pizza
- Eat fresh or frozen vegetables, or choose “no salt added” canned vegetables
- Reduce the amount of instant rice or pasta you eat and try cooking rice and pasta without salt
- Stick to salt-free seasoning blends
- Try making your own salad dressings rather than buying bottled types
It’s also important to look at food labels when you shop. Check the amount of sodium on the food labels and compare different brands before purchasing.
Use Spice, Not Salt
Another way to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet is to reach for the spice cabinet, rather than the salt shaker. Herbs and spices can add flavor to dishes without the excess sodium.
Watch Your Calories
Reducing the amount of calories you consume every day may help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
The total number of calories you should eat every day depends on your age, gender and activity level.
Before starting a new diet or making any major lifestyle changes, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
Your heart health should never be in question. Know where you stand today, so you can protect your whole health tomorrow. And you’re never alone in your journey. Connect with our medical experts and the AdventHealth Cardiovascular Institute by calling 855-303-DOCS and start your personalized path to protect your whole health.