May is National Blood Pressure month.
Did you know that 1 billion people around the world have high blood pressure? High blood pressure can develop over the course of many years, but if left untreated can cause damage to your heart, eyes, brain and kidneys. It can lead to a heart attack and stroke. Of course, being overweight is one of the factors putting you at risk for high blood pressure, but don’t despair because including healthy changes to your diet and to your daily routine can help lower blood pressure to optimal levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. These changes can also help you on your weight loss journey, so definitely something to think about!
What we want to remember is that small, incremental changes to your lifestyle made peacefully and with purpose will allow you to incorporate these foods on a regular basis. Having a plan before the start of the week will help you do this easily, so menu planning is key.
Let’s talk food!
You may have heard of the DASH diet which incorporates high levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber and lower levels of salt, caffeine and alcohol. Well, what does this mean for you and which foods can help manage blood pressure?
Let’s talk fruits and vegetables first: Increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption to 7-10 servings a day is key. This will surely put a dent in your high blood pressure numbers! Remember, a serving of vegetable and fruit is ½ a cup, salad is 1 cup. So, consider more potassium and magnesium rich foods: citrus, dark greens like spinach and swiss chard, berries, carrots, celery, tomatoes, broccoli. They will provide the potassium, magnesium and fiber punch you need!
Next, add healthy omega three fats to your diet to help relax those blood vessels and keep the blood through your arteries flowing. Fatty fish like salmon, bluefish, anchovies, sardines, oysters, herring and plant-based flax, chia seeds, walnuts and soybeans will also do the trick!
Think calcium as well! Try a serving or 2 of Greek yogurt daily. The protein will keep you satisfied and the calcium will help reduce your blood pressure. Other dairy sources like milk or plant based milks fortified with calcium like oat, soy or almond milk are good choices too. The goal is 3 servings per day.
Consider adding these herbs and spices to the mix!
Celery seed, cilantro, saffron, lemongrass, ginseng, cardamom, sweet basil and ginger are just some of the herbs and spices that have shown potential in recent studies to have blood-pressure-lowering potential.
Remove the salt! Consider less processed, restaurant and fast food items. Hidden sources of salt can be in your microwavable oats and frozen vegetables. Try to steer clear of higher salts condiments like soy sauce, mustard and ketchup as well as barbeque sauces. Replace the salt shaker with fresh garlic, herbs and spices and black pepper.
The changes you make will help your blood pressure and manage your weight. Losing weight can help improve your blood pressure for sure. Think big, but start small: consider adding a piece of fruit after your lunch or a small sandwich baggie of raw carrots or cherry tomatoes to your lunch. This will surely get you tracking in the right direction!
If you need an experienced guide to help you get to your goal weight and feeling better about your future, let’s chat.
If you’re looking for more quick tips on nutrition, find me on Facebook Live every other week where I prepare cooking demos and nutrition topics to discuss.