Eating to prevent and lower high blood pressure

Food is Fuel for your Body

The food we eat goes directly to nourishing our body and providing us with energy. Overeating or eating unhealthy foods can result in excess weight gain and have negative effects on our body, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The DASH food plan (also known as Dietary Approaches to Stop High Blood Pressure) was created to help people eat foods that lower blood pressure. This food plan recommends:

  1. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low fat diary
  2. Eating whole grain foods
  3. Limiting foods that are high in cholesterol and fat (low-fat dairy, lean meats)

The DASH diet recommends a specific number of servings of each food category. The number of servings you should eat depends on your activity level and age.

Who should eat more servings:

  • Adults with active lifestyles
  • Young adults (19-30 years old)

Who should eat less servings:

  • Adults that have sedentary lifestyles or do moderate amounts of physical activity
  • Adults over the age of 50

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Click here for more information on the DASH diet: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/index.htm

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are important part of an everyday meal plan because they have vitamins and minerals that help keep your heart healthy, especially potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

You should try to
eat 4-5 servings of vegetables everyday*

Blood Pressure Safe vegetables:

Potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, squash, green peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, avocado, beets, kale, collard greens, lima beans, .

One (1) Serving is equal to:

1 cup of leafy vegetables

½ cup of raw or cooked cut vegetables

½ cup of vegetable juice

Tip: Try to include at least one vegetable in your daily meals; eating salad with your meal is an easy way to include vegetables in your daily meals. Click here for a listing of Vegetable Serving Sizes.

You should try to eat 4-5 servings of fruits everyday*

Blood Pressure Safe fruit: Apples, bananas, oranges, apricots, peaches, grapes, strawberries, mangos, watermelon, raisins, pineapples, dried fruits.

One (1) Serving is equal to:

1 medium fruit

¼ cup of dried,

½ cup of fresh or frozen fruit

½ cup of 100% fruit Juice

½ cup of canned fruit

Tip: Create weekly goals for consuming more fruits. Replace unhealthy snacks with fruits. After buying fruits, organize fruit into packages that are easy to take with you on the go, for example, place 1 cup of clean strawberries (2 servings) in a zip lock bag. Be sure to choose fruit juices and canned fruit that are low in sugar. Click here for a listing of Fruit Serving Sizes.

* Serving values based on a 2,000-calorie per day meal plan.

Choose Whole Grains

The foods we buy and eat are often processed or refined from their natural state, which strips the food of essential nutritional value. Eating foods that are whole grain on a daily basis can reduce your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, help you maintain weight, and help you maintain a healthy immune system.

You should try to eat 6-8 servings of whole grains everyday*

Blood Pressure Safe Grains:

Whole wheat bread and rolls, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, english muffin, pita bread, bagel, cereals, grits, oatmeal, unsalted pretzels, and popcorn

One (1) Serving is equal to:

1 slice of toast

1 ounce of dry cereal

½ cup of cooked brown rice

½ cup of cooked pasta

½ cup of cereal

* Serving values based on a 2,000-calorie per day meal plan.

Limit foods that are high in cholesterol and fat

The types of meats, oils, and condiments you have as a meal or use to prepare your foods can also increase the fat content of your daily diet. Try to decrease the amount of fats and oils used in your meals and choose low fat meat, oil and condiment options.

6 or less servings of Lean meats, poultry, and fish everyday*

Blood Pressure safe meats: Some meats, like beef, ground beef, duck, and organ meat) contain a lot of fat, which can result in excessive weight, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.Fish (Cod, halibut, trout, tuna), chicken breast, turkey breast, pork, cuts of beef with fat trimmed off. Also consider eating meat alternatives, such as Tofu, and legumes instead of meat protein.

One (1) Serving is equal to:

1 ounce of cooked meat

1 ounce of fish

1 ounce of poultry

1 egg

Tip: Reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet is by choosing to eat low-fat or fat –free dairy options and alternatives

2-3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products everyday*

Blood Pressure Safe low-fat options: Low-fat or fat-free milk (2%, 1%. Fat free milk- avoid whole milk and half-half creamers), low-fat or fat-free cheeses and yogurts, etc.

One (1) Serving is equal to:

1 cup of milk

1 cup of yogurt

1 ½ ounce of cheese

Tip: Avoid purchasing whole milk or whole milk products. Look for low-fat or fat-free options for your milk, yogurt, and cheese products (sliced or shredded cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese). If you are lactose intolerant, try buying lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk. Other milk alternatives include soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk—be sure that you purchase low-fat or fat-free. Click here for a listing of Dairy Serving Sizes.

2-3 servings of fat and oils everyday*

Blood Pressure Safe low-fat options: Soft margarine, vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, low-fat mayonnaise, light salad dressing

One (1) Serving is equal to:

1 teaspoon soft margarine

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons salad dressing

Tip: There are many reduced-fat, low-fat, and fat-free alternatives for many foods. Be sure to look out for low-fat or fat-free substitutions for fats, oils, and condiments. Read the nutrition labels the packaged foods you buy with special attention to the “Total Fat, Saturated Fat, and Trans-fat” lines of the nutrition section. Click here for a listing of Dairy Serving Sizes.

* Serving values based on a 2,000-calorie per day meal plan.

Sources:

Appel, L.J., Moore, T.J., Obarzanek, E., Vollmer, W.M., Svetkey, L.P., Sacks, F.M., Bray, G.A., Vogt, T.M., et. Al. (2006). Dietary Approaches to Prevent and Treat Hypertension : A Scientific Statement of the American Heart Association. Hypertension 47:296-308.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Feb. 21, 2013.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Description of the DASH eating plan. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/heart/hbp-dash-index

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