Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, it should be everyone’s concern. A number of factors heighten your risk for developing heart problems, including high blood pressure, which puts you at significant risk of heart attack and stroke.
While in most cases the cause of high blood pressure is unknown, we do know that what you eat can affect your blood pressure for better or for worse. Along with getting plenty of exercise, keeping your cholesterol levels in check, and avoiding smoking and excess alcohol, adopting a healthy diet can protect your heart and lower your blood pressure.
At Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants, board-certified cardiologist Dr. Ayim Djamson and our team of cardiovascular professionals are devoted to helping you keep your heart as healthy as possible.
An estimated 108 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and only about a quarter of them have it appropriately treated. A normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Anyone with persistently elevated blood pressure should start by scheduling a visit with Dr. Djamson.
Making changes to your diet can have a powerful impact on blood pressure. The following are dietary strategies to lower high blood pressure.
Foods high in sodium raise blood pressure
Cutting back on sodium is key to lowering blood pressure. It’s recommended that most adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, but most people eat much more than that.
People with high blood pressure should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg or less. Too much salt raises blood pressure and adds stress on the heart.
If you have high blood pressure, reducing your sodium intake is a good place to start. Ways to reduce sodium intake include:
- Avoiding table salt
- Reading food labels
- Choosing foods labeled “low-sodium” or “sodium-free”
- Using herbs to flavor foods
- Using salt-free substitutes
Common high-sodium foods to avoid include:
- Processed cheese
- Processed meat
- Canned vegetables
- Salad dressings
- Vegetable juice
Salt can lurk in foods that don’t necessarily taste salty. Some hidden sources of sodium include:
- Frozen meals
- Prepared foods
Keeping your eye on your sodium intake is a powerful step toward healthier blood pressure.
Adopt a heart-healthy diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an overall eating plan proven to lower blood pressure. The DASH diet emphasizes:
- High vegetable intake
- Lots of fruit
- Low-fat dairy
- Low-sodium foods
- High fiber
- Low added sugar
- Low saturated fat
- Low total fat intake
Leading a healthy lifestyle
Adopting an overall healthy lifestyle is your best defense against high blood pressure.
In addition to eating a nutritious, heart-healthy diet, this involves getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week and losing weight if you’re overweight.
In fact, losing even a modest amount of weight has a potent effect on lowering blood pressure. What is considered a modest amount? About 5% of your body weight. For someone who weighs 190, that’s roughly 10 pounds.
Partnering with a health professional
If diet and lifestyle changes alone fail to bring your blood pressure within a normal range, medications can help to control it. These medications include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Beta blockers
- Angiotensin receptor II blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
The team at Metropolitan Cardiovascular Consultants is here to help you keep your heart and circulatory system healthy and strong. Don’t let high blood pressure silently damage your body and put your heart health — and life — at risk.
Call our office to schedule a visit for a comprehensive heart-health evaluation with Dr. Djamson. We have three locations in Beltsville, Bowie, and Columbia, Maryland. You can also send a message to Dr. Djamson and his team via our website.