Lifestyle plays a key role in controlling your blood pressure. By altering choices you make, you may be able to avoid or reduce the need for medications.
Here are 9 steps that will start you towards blood pressure control.
There is a significant blood pressure rise with every cigarette you smoke.
2. Pour out the liquor.
More than two alcoholic drinks daily for men and one for women can elevate blood pressure.
One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
3. Get off the couch.
Inactivity equals an increased heart rate. Increased heart rate means the heart must pump harder and exert more force on artery walls.
Shoot for 30 minutes 5 or more days each week. Get moving
4. Chill out.
Do you turn to cigarettes, alcohol, or food to cope with stress? If so, find a new method ASAP.
Possibilities include meditating, taking a bubble bath, going for a long walk - whatever works for you.
5. Do NOT chew the fat.
Reduce saturated fat intake (i.e. trim visible fat off meat, switch to low fat milk). Replace saturated fats (such as shortening, butter, and ice cream) with unsaturated fats (such as canola oil, margarine, and low fat yogurt).
6. Use fatty acids.
Become omega 3 savvy and consume omega 3 fatty acids everyday (i.e. salmon, walnuts, canola oil, herring, avocados).
Taste your food before salting it! Read food labels to limit sodium intake to 2300 milligrams per day. Most Americans consume 6-18 grams daily. Pull out herbs and spices in place of the salt shaker.
**8. Rake in the roughage. **
Make whole grain products, fruits, and vegetables your friends. The more the merrier. A high fiber diet is necessary for heart health. You need 25-35 grams of dietary fiber daily. A fruit serving generally provides 2-4 grams of fiber, whole grain pasta 5 grams, and you can find 100% whole wheat bread with 5 grams.
9. Know your minerals.
Three minerals play critical roles in blood pressure management - potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
If you are treating high blood pressure with a diuretic, you are excreting potassium. Two of the best potassium sources are potatoes and bananas.
As you switch from refined grains to whole grains your magnesium intake will increase. Magnesium is lost when grains are refined (bran and germ removed).
Also, diuretics have the same effect on magnesium as they do potassium.
Get your 3 a day. You need 3 servings of low fat dairy every day. High fat dairy does not have the same protective effect when combating high blood pressure. One dairy serving is equal to 8 oz. of milk, 8 oz. yogurt, 1 1/2 oz cheese, and 1/2 cup cottage cheese.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.