One of the best strategies for lowering blood pressure is through dietary changes. One of the most popular diets that helps lower and maintain blood pressure is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. This diet may lower blood pressure "by a few points in just two weeks," reports the Mayo Clinic. By following this diet, blood pressure could drop up to 14 points. In clinical studies, this diet has the "biggest blood pressure-lowering benefits," reports the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Take Charge of Your Diet
The primary foods that aid in lowering blood pressure are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat diary. The Mayo Clinic suggests six to eight servings of whole grains per day, eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products per day. Whole grains are best because they have more fiber than other grains. Whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread and brown rice are better choices than their regular or white counterparts. Vegetables with fiber include tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes and carrots. Fresh and frozen vegetables are preferred over canned because of the sodium content in canned foods. Add fresh or dried fruits to meals. Beans, nuts, lentils and seeds have fiber but some nuts can be in high in calories and fat. Add them to your diet sparingly. They have necessary fiber and nutrients. Most (excluding coconut) are low in fat. Yogurt, cheese, milk and other diary products should be low in fat or fat free. All meat choices should be limited. Meals shouldn't be centered around large meat dishes. Remove skin and any visible fat from meat before cooking. Don't fry foods. Grilling, broiling or roasting is preferred. Lean choices of meat are best for your health and fish is favored over red meat.
Think Low Sodium and Low Fat
For those wishing to lower blood pressure, the daily intake of sodium should not exceed 1500 mg. This might mean foregoing many packaged foods. Processed foods are suspect because many of them are high in sodium. Reading labels is a must for controlling blood pressure. Even when choosing low-sodium foods, it can be difficult to keep below the 1500 mg limit. It pays to know what foods contain hidden amounts of sodium. Lowering fat intake also reduces health risks associated with high blood pressure. Words that can help you make healthy food choices are "free," "very low," "low," "reduced" or "less." Fat-free and sodium-free choices are best bets, according to the American Heart Association. Low-sodium and low-fat are usually healthy choices. Reduced-fat and less fat or sodium need to be monitored. Awareness of your food choices and limits is the key to dropping blood pressure.
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