Reduce blood pressure: it's a 2-step process
Making the right decisions is key
By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Weight loss clinic WebMD – Column of experts
If you are trying to control or prevent high blood pressureYou may be observing salt in your diet (along with losing weight, eating lots of fruits and vegetables and limiting your alcohol intake). The WebMD Weightloss The Clinical Program may work well for people on a low salt diet, as long as the sodium restriction is not severe (less than 2,000 mg per day). (Of course, you should always check with your doctor before starting any weight loss program.)
Reducing sodium intake not only helps people with high blood pressure, but those at risk of developing the disease, according to the American Heart Association. This means African-Americans, the elderly, people with Type II. diabetes, and those with a family history of high blood pressure are among the groups that can benefit the most by limiting salt in their diets.
Making the right decisions within your food plan, such as avoiding processed foods and using little table salt, is the key to making it work. Also, keep in mind that sodium occurs naturally in some foods, such as meats, breads and dairy products.
And, to keep your food tasty without salt, you will have to be creative with the use of herbs, spices, vinegars, fruits and vegetables.
Become a label reader
The first step in controlling sodium in your diet is to carefully read the nutritional information labels on the foods you buy.
Sometimes, the salt hides behind other names. Sodium can appear on labels like monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodiumphosphate, sodium chloride and any term that includes the word "sodium". Unprocessed foods, like fresh produce, have very little sodium.
Be careful with processed foods, in which sodium is often used as a preservative or flavor enhancer. Most canned foods that are not sweet (that is, not sweet) are bathed in a salty liquid. And the restaurant's Chinese food can be very high in sodium unless you request it without MSG.
Try it first
Limit the use of the salt shaker, both on the table and in the kitchen. Get in the habit of trying your food before salting it.
However, remember that the salt shaker is usually responsible for only about 15% of the sodium in your diet. Most come from processed and canned foods, so let these foods go instead of the fresh ones, usually those located around the perimeter of the grocery store.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease, the research has found. The antioxidants, phytochemicals, and healthy vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables work to help control blood pressure. Probably the abundance of potassium and the decrease in sodium that comes with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables makes the difference.
Fruits and vegetables will not only help blood pressure, but, according to The American Cancer Society, five servings of them a day can help prevent cancer. Clearly, fruits and vegetables are good for you in more ways than your mother has ever dreamed!
The eating plan
So, if your blood pressure is a concern, the bottom line is to select from a wide variety of foods within your meal plan, limit your alcohol intake and get five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and, of course, keep the salt to the minimum. .
Here are more tips to keep your salt intake low while following your meal plan:
When making choices within food groups, choose fresh or frozen foods instead of canned foods whenever possible. Use low-sodium versions of canned foods and other packaged foods, such as salsa mixes. Avoid canned, smoked and processed meats, such as sausages, sausages and sausages. Use herbs, spices, vinegars, fruits and vegetables to add an extra flavor to your meal. Avoid sodium-rich condiments, such as soy sauce, pickles and olives. Select frozen dishes with less than 800 milligrams of sodium. Avoid salty snacks such as chips, nuts and cookies. Check the labels of the processed cheeses and choose varieties with less sodium.
Originally published on April 24, 2003
Medically updated on May 2, 2005.
© 1996-2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
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