- By Talia Follador
- In Uncategorized
- May 11, 2021
Food Forward Ways to Improve High Blood Pressure
By Emily Bumgarner, M.Ed, RDN, LDN
Did you know that nearly half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure? What is more shocking is that many don’t even know they have it. Although it may start off as a small health concern, long-term high blood pressure can cause major health effects, especially to the heart. With some small changes to your lifestyle, you can better your health for life.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is also referred to as hypertension, hyper meaning high. Our blood pressure level measures the force of the blood that is flowing through our blood vessels. When our blood pressure is considered “high” this means that the force of blood flowing is consistently elevated. The optimal blood pressure and number to aim for is less than 120 mm Hg systolic (upper number) and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic (lower number).
What Can You Do?
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Eat a heart-smart diet.
- Move your body.
What Foods are Beneficial For Heart Health?
- Fruits & Veggies: Include produce in your meals by choosing a variety of colors to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients. Try new items and ways of preparing them — the combinations and flavors are endless.
- Lean Meat & Seafood: Include lean meats like turkey or chicken and a variety of seafood like salmon or tuna, seasoned with herbs and spices. This will help prevent excess saturated fat and sodium.
- Whole Grains: Choose whole grains as often as possible to incorporate more fiber and nutrients into your diet. Items like quinoa, oats, etc. can be included in a variety of meals throughout the day, both sweet and savory.
- Dairy: Keep your bones strong and heart-healthy by choosing low-fat dairy products. Full of the same nutrients, but with less fat they are a great way to add calcium to your diet.
What Food Component Could Increase Blood Pressure?
- Sodium: The main culprit when it comes to foods that increase blood pressure is the sodium. Sodium occurs naturally in some foods and is also added to some foods for flavor or preservation. Be on the lookout for added sodium, especially in canned foods. Opt for the cans that read “no salt added” or “low-sodium”, then season yourself with fresh or dried herbs and spices.
Emily Bumgarner, M.Ed, RDN, LDN is the In-Store Dietitian for the Harrisburg area Weis Markets stores.