If you are looking for the best diet for high blood pressure, there is one basic criterion you should look for- a low sodium diet plan. A low salt diet for high blood pressure is the most effective diet you can follow to help you lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for strokes, heart disease and death.
Salt and Your Blood Pressure
While your body does need some salt, too much salt can cause your body to retain water. This excess water goes into your blood stream and increases the volume flowing through your arteries. This increased volume puts more pressure on the walls of the arteries, resulting in increased blood pressure.
So, knowing this, it would only make sense that decreasing the amount of blood volume by decreasing the amount of sodium you eat would decrease your blood pressure. That is why the any diet for high blood pressure focuses on low salt.
How Much Sodium Is Healthy?
For the greatest reduction in your blood pressure you should aim for about 1500 mg. of sodium per day. Even going as high as 2300 mg. of sodium per day will help to lower your blood pressure. Most of us eat about three times the amount of sodium that we should.
1500 mg. of sodium is about 4 grams or 2/3 teaspoon of table salt. 2300 mg. of sodium is around 6 gms. or 1 teaspoon of salt. You have to track the amount of sodium you eat from all sources- in the food you eat and the amount you add for flavor. Watch for hidden sources of sodium. Here are some things you will find sodium in:
- Breakfast cereals
- Baked goods
- Seasoned salts
- Monosodium glutamate or MSG
- Baking soda
- Soy sauce
- Some antacids
- Canned foods
Always check the labels on your food. Look for foods that have less than 5% of your daily value of sodium. Don’t eat those with over 20% of the daily value for sodium. Opt for fresh or frozen foods instead of canned. And limit processed foods, lunch meat and fast food. Use salt-free seasonings. There are a lot of delicious blends of herbs and spices that are salt-free.
More in the Diet for High Blood Pressure
Other things in our diet that can affect our blood pressure are potassium, magnesium and fiber. We need to make sure that we are eating foods that will provide us with enough of these nutrients. The best is not to supplement but to add the right foods to our diet. Increasing your fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase these nutrients in your diet for high blood pressure.
DASH Diet for High Blood Pressure
There was a landmark study done in 1997 by Dr. Lawrence Appel, a professor of medicine at John Hopkins University, that showed that the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was very effective in lowering blood pressure, often within in two weeks! The DASH diet works not only to reduce high blood pressure but it is also very effective in preventing high blood pressure. New Japanese research shows that the DASH diet acts as a natural diuretic to help you get rid of the excess water that can cause high blood pressure.
Low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol and low in the amount of total fat, the DASH diet stresses fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy. The diet also includes whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and limited amounts of red meat. Sweets are limited as are drinks that contain sugar. It is an easy diet to follow that gives you a lot of variety.
The DASH diet has 1500 to 2300 mg. of sodium, about 30 gms. of fiber and is high in potassium and magnesium. It not only helps to regulate your blood pressure but it also lowers cholesterol and homocysteine levels, promotes bone mass and may help to prevent cancer. In addition, people who follow the DASH diet lose unwanted weight.
Americans Need A Diet for High Blood Pressure
In the past a blood pressure less than 140/90 was considered healthy. However, current research shows that anything over 120/80 is too high. With these new blood pressure recommendations, about half of all American adults have hypertension, or high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the second-leading cause of death in America. And that is so sad because these could be prevented with a diet for high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight and moderate physical activity.
Click here for a free copy of the DASH diet for high blood pressure.