According to the American Heart Association, almost 85 million Americans, or one out of three adults over the age of 20, have high blood pressure. Some don’t even know that they have this condition. High blood pressure is defined as the consistent high force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. After a while, this constant high force damages the delicate tissues inside the blood vessels. If not treated, high blood pressure can lead to other serious health problems.
So, how can you improve your health and better manage or help reduce the risk of having high blood pressure? Lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and choosing a low-sodium, well-balanced diet may all help you reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300mg (1 teaspoon) of sodium a day. This includes sodium already in food and salt added during cooking or at the table. However, an ideal limit for most adults is no more than 1,500mg per day.
When it comes to limiting the amount of salt in your diet, it’s easier than you might think! Try these tips below for heart health:
1. Spice up your meals! Instead of adding salt, try adding herbs (dried or fresh), spices (without added sodium), and other flavorings, such as garlic/onion powder, pepper (cayenne, black, or red pepper), lemon/lime juice, and salt-free seasonings (Mr. Dash).
2. Avoid foods higher in salt, such as frozen entrees, deli meat, canned soups, condiments and sauces, pickles, and cheese.
3. Search for low sodium deli meat and cheese at your local deli counter.
4. Choose low or reduced sodium canned foods. Look for “no salt added” items. Rinse off regular canned vegetables or beans to wash off 30-40% of the sodium.
5. Skip the drive-through! Fast food is very high in sodium. Instead, prepare more meals at home. It is healthier and more cost effective.
6. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium, which can also help lower blood pressure.
7. Have unsalted nuts for your snack. Try to add your own spices and seasonings for flavor.
8. Consume low-fat yogurt and milk, which are low in sodium. Be careful with cottage cheese: many varieties are high in salt. Choose low-sodium options instead.
9. Choose whole grains, such as brown rice and whole grain bread and pasta. They are naturally low in sodium and also high in fiber and nutrients that will make you feel full longer, which can help you to maintain a healthy weight.
Dina Ironmonger is a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, registered at the ProMedica Food Clinic. She has been with ProMedica for seven years and graduated with an Associate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in May of 2016 from Owens Community College. She enjoys gardening and cooking.