If you want to get your high blood pressure under control, the best place to begin is your diet. Before making any major changes, make sure to consult with your doctor as you may need to be monitored, especially if you are taking medication to control your blood pressure. With your doctor’s guidance and permission, you can often save money on medications by using these healthy lifestyle changes instead.
1. Lose weight.
As difficult as this may seem, it’s the single most important thing you can do to lower your blood pressure. Discuss a formal weight loss plan with your physician so you can make sure you are losing weight in a healthy way.
2. Change Your Meat-Eating Habits.
Red meat can raise your blood pressure by a third. Stick with skinless chicken and fish to keep your pressure at healthier levels. Fish is high in omega-three fatty acids, which are great for helping to reduce blood pressure and as an added bonus will help keep your cholesterol in check. Also try to work in some vegetarian meals. Beans and mushrooms are filling and work well as meat replacements.
3. Double Check Your Salad Dressing.
Most of these are loaded with fat and extra calories. Try using a vinaigrette or even flavored vinegars.
4. Avoid Fried Foods.
Broiling, baking and grilling are your best bets. Fried foods are high in saturated fat, which contributes to high blood pressure.
5. Count Fat Grams.
Check the nutrition labels and select foods that have 5 grams of fat or less.High levels of fat in the blood have a strong correlation with high blood pressure.
6. Watch the Oil.
Reduce the oil used in cooking whenever possible. When oil is necessary, choose one that is low in saturated fat, like olive or canola oil. When sauteing, try using water or vegetable broth.
7. Make the Switch.
Change from whole milk to 2 percent. If you are already drinking 2 percent, try going down to 1 percent or fat-free.
8. Watch Your Salt Intake.
Check nutrition labels and try not to exceed 2 to 3 grams of sodium per day. Consult your doctor, as you may need to reduce it even further. Any salt used should be added during cooking. Nutritionists recommend that you avoid keeping salt at the table since it dramatically increases salt intake. It’s just too easy to go overboard. Experimenting with fresh or dried herbs, spices (except for spice mixes which often contain sodium or MSG) can can add a great punch to food without increasing the salt content.
9. Read the Ingredients List.
Avoid foods that contain monosodium glutamate, or commonly known as MSG. Avoid foods with sodium chloride, as well foods that have been brined, smoked or pickled.
10. Go Natural.
Instead of relying on processed foods such as lunch meat, enjoy the real thing. Try using roasted chicken or turkey that you have prepared yourself in your sandwich; it’s much more delicious and satisfying.
11. Ditch the Cans.
Canned foods are notorious for their high salt content. Make your own soups from scratch using sodium-free broth or water flavored with vegetables and herbs. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables over canned. When using canned or packaged food is unavoidable, read the labels carefully to choose those that are specifically low-sodium.
You will find by changing a few small habits, such as using fresh vs canned vegetables and keeping the salt off the table can dramatically reduce your sodium intake. Counting calories and fat intake are both huge factors in managing your high blood pressure, so remember to check your salad dressing label as it can be a high source of both.
Jessica Bosari enjoys blogging about healthy eating habits at Nutritionist-World.com, a site that helps students find the best schools for nutritionist training and culinary arts.