Avoiding High Blood Pressure

It is estimated that 1 in every 3 Americans has hypertension, more commonly referred to as high blood pressure. These numbers are cause for much concern. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for other serious conditions such as heart failure and stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

High blood pressure can also cause damage to the eyes and the kidneys and anyone, including children, can develop this condition. It is often called the silent killer because its symptoms are not noticeable until other serious problems arise. However, diagnosing high blood pressure is easy and it can usually be controlled. Many factors can contribute to and/or help you prevent high blood pressure.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

The best way to prevent high blood pressure is to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can raise your blood pressure because your body has to work harder to move your blood. If you are overweight, losing those extra pounds can lower your blood pressure.


A sedentary lifestyle is also linked to high blood pressure. Adding exercise into your daily routine can help lower blood pressure. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity everyday.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet can also help control your blood pressure levels. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grain and lean proteins, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol can help you maintain a healthy weight and control your blood pressure.

Watch your sodium

Consuming a lot of sodium, or salt, can increase your blood pressure level. The American Heart Association recommends that people limit their sodium intake to 2,400 milligrams per day. Those with high blood pressure should limit their sodium intake to 2,000 per day. The human body only requires about 500 milligrams of this mineral per day to function normally, but the average American consumes a whopping 4,000 to 5,000 per day!

To put this in terms that are easier to relate to, one teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium - an entire day's intake for a healthy adult. But if you have high blood pressure and add one teaspoon of salt to your food than you've already consumed more than your daily recommended amount of sodium. Eliminating added sodium to your diet may be easier than you think.

Shake it off!

To reduce your sodium intake, take the salt shaker off the table and remove it from the cabinet. Don't add salt to any food items; instead flavor your foods with herbs and spices. Use fresh vegetables instead of canned and processed versions, and try white or brown rice instead of flavored rice. Many salted snacks come in unsalted versions as well ... foods like pretzels, nuts, seeds, dried beans and cheeses.

Simple doesn't mean better!

Avoid processed convenience foods, which often use sodium as a preservative, instead choose fresh ingredients. Stay away from cured and processed lunch meats and salty foods like ham, bacon, sauerkraut, dried meat, or dried fish. Limit your take out - Asian and Mexican foods can be high in sodium due to added sauces, when ordering in - ask for sauce-free foods.