The second Nurses Health Study has identified six dietary habits that reduce high blood pressure in women by almost 80%.
The Nurses Health Study includes 83,882 adult women between the ages of 27 to 44 years-old. Researchers analyzed data to determine if there was a connection between a healthy lifestyle and high blood pressure prevention. When participants began the study they did not have high blood pressure, heart disease , diabetes, or cancer; however, over the 14 years of follow-up, 12,319 developed high blood pressure.
Here are the six diet and lifestyle factors researchers identified that decreased high blood pressure risk in women.
1. Healthy Body Mass Index
A body mass index (BMI) less than 25. Here's a post where you can learn more about BMI and how to calculate your BMI - How Does Your Body Mass Measure Up?
2. Regular vigorous activity
Being physically active everyday for a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous activity . Vigorous activity is when you use large muscle groups at 70% of more of your heart rate max. Examples of vigorous activities include jogging, running, lap swimming, bicycling, and jump roping.
3. Diet similar to the DASH diet
A diet that closely follows the DASH diet according to a defined "DASH score", based on a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, low fat dairy, whole grains, and a low intake of red/processed meats, sodium, and sweetened beverages.
4. Low alcohol intake
Less than 10 grams of alcohol per day. This would be a little less than 3 ounces of wine or less than 9 ounces of beer.
5. Seldom use of non-narcotic analgesics
Using non-narcotic analgesics (pain relievers, such as acetaminophen/Tylenol) less than once per week.
6. Adequate folic acid intake
Supplementing 400 micrograms folic acid or more daily.
Out of the participants in the second Nurses Health Study only 0.3% had all six of the above factors for a 78% reduced risk of developing high blood pressure. Researchers also found if you meet just three of the above factors you reduce your risk almost 50%. It was determined that body mass index was the greatest predictor for the development of high blood pressure. Let me give you an example of what I mean - if you had to pick between losing/maintaining a healthy weight or being vigorously active daily, achieving a healthy weight will decrease your risk of developing high blood pressure more than being overweight and physically active according to this study.
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