High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is consistently high. A normal adult blood pressure is 120/80. The top number is the systolic or first number and the lower number is the diastolic or second number.
You often hear high blood pressure referred to as the “silent killer”, because the symptoms of high blood pressure cannot usually be felt.
There are several factors that can affect a person’s risk for high blood pressure including family history, being overweight, and also chronic stress.
Foods that can benefit those trying to offset their risk for high blood pressure are:
- Cold water fish such as halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna
Onions and garlic
Organically grown fruits and vegetables that have been washed.
Leafy greens like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
It is important to avoid alcohol, foods made with saturated fats, sugars, caffeine, and putting too much sodium (salt) on your food.
Most of your life you have heard that sodium is good for your health. As we age, less sodium is required. An average American adult may consume between 4,000 to 6,000 mg. of salt daily.
As a general guide someone with high blood pressure should consume only between 2,000 and 3,000 mg. of sodium. Your health care provider is your best source of how much sodium is best for your dietary intake.
When trying to pay attention to your sodium intake, it is important to read and understand food labels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) is the watchdog regarding definitions that food manufacturers put on their food.
- Low sodium mean that the food contains 140 mg or less of sodium per serving.
Very low sodium means that the food contains 35 mg. or less of sodium per serving.
Salt-free means that the food contains 5 mg. or less of sodium per serving.
Light in Sodium means that the food is 50% less than what any original version of the food contains.
Reduced sodium means that the food contains 25% less sodium than any original or regular version of the same product.
Much of what Americans consume in sodium content comes from processed foods (boxed and canned), so cutting back on the amount of processed foods you consume will automatically lower your daily intake of sodium as long as you do not compensate by salting your table food with regular salt.
Baking goods that are made with baking soda or baking powder are also high in sodium content.
Cured and smoked meats, pre-packaged frozen and all canned foods like soups and condiments are also high in sodium content.
A good way to reduce your sodium is to replace the salt you use at the table with herbs and spices like: fresh or dried herbs such as onions, basil, garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme, black and red pepper, and also rosemary.
Just because a salt container says that it is a salt substitute does not mean that it is low in sodium or that it is salt-free. Some contain sodium but at a lesser amount than regular salt. Always check with your healthcare professional before using a salt substitute.