Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very common cardiovascular condition. Blood courses through our veins and arteries, putting pressure on the walls of our blood vessels. When this pressure is to great, it may be diagnosed as hypertension. High blood pressure, though often asymptomatic, can lead to serious health problems, such as cardiac arrest and stroke. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, one important way to keep your blood pressure in check is to maintain a healthy diet.
Foods to Avoid
To keep high blood pressure in check, follow the DASH plan. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Certain foods should be avoided on the DASH plan, especially foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium. To avoid saturated fat and cholesterol, stay away from beef, lamb, pork and fatty cheeses. Sugary foods are easy to identify; avoid candies, syrups and those sweet guilty pleasures. High sodium products include dairy, processed foods, soy sauce and lunch meats.
Foods to Seek Out
Certain foods can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables are key, as well as whole grain breads and pastas. Certain nutrients are effective at easing hypertension, including potassium, magnesium and calcium. Potassium can be found in bananas, apricots, potatoes, oranges, prunes, tomatoes and spinach. Magnesium-rich foods include tuna, artichokes, brown rice, almonds and beans. For heart-healthy calcium sources, look for skim milk, low-fat yogurts, salmon, broccoli and tofu. All of these nutrients can also be found as supplements at a grocery or health store.
Easing into it
Following this kind of diet can seem like an impossible task. Try to ease into the DASH diet a few steps at a time; eat tofu instead of meat for dinner a few times a week, drink vegetable juice instead of soda, etc. As you become more comfortable with your new eating repertoire, the more you’ll enjoy following a heart-healthy diet.