Millions of Americans suffer from high blood pressure. Although some need medication to treat this condition, blood pressure can often be lowered through diet alone. Read on to learn more about high blood pressure diet plans.
Reduce Sodium Levels
Reduce sodium in your diet. Salt doesn't only come from salt shakers, but also from processed, frozen, canned and jarred goods. Watch labels and try to keep your sodium levels to 1500 mg a day or less. Stay away from snack foods such as chips, and cut back on your frozen entrees, which can sometimes pack a whopping 1000 mg of sodium a pop. Limit sodium-dense condiments like ketchup, mustard and pickle-relish. Also, use plenty of fresh herbs in your recipes, and the need for cooking with salt will be greatly reduced.
Eat Fresh, Whole Foods
Eating fresh, whole foods can help lower high blood pressure. Raw and lightly steamed vegetables, prepared with a minimum of salt and butter, are a great choice. So are whole grains and pastas, fruits, and lean meats. Fat-free and low-fat dairy products are fine as well. Potassium helps the body maintain a normal blood pressure, so eat plenty of potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, oranges, watermelon and potatoes. Magnesium plays a crucial role in blood pressure as well, so eat plenty of leafy greens and whole grains to up your intake. A diet rich in vegetables and whole grains also ensures adequate fiber intake, a key element in lowering blood pressure.
Things to Eliminate
Besides salt, look for foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and sugar. Eliminate carbonated beverages, which can be high in both sugars and sodium. Alcohol should be eliminated as well, since it can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of complications. Saturated fats and trans-fats (hydrogenated oils) damage your blood vessels and heart, so avoid those as much as possible. Finally, avoid processed foods, such as white bread and crackers.