How Eating Healthy Can Affect Blood Pressure

Hypertension, is considered a silent killer because it can lead to heart damage and stroke, and many people show no symptoms. A doctor should monitor blood pressure at least every two years unless there is a history of hypertension, and then it should be monitored much more frequently. Eating healthy is the most effective way to lower high blood pressure and to maintain overall good health.

The solution to eating healthy and keeping your pressure within normal limits is to understand a little bit about the causes of this matter and how certain foods contribute to the problem. Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of blood traveling through the arteries. Narrow or stiff arteries and increased fluid in the bloodstream both contribute to increased blood pressure. Foods that affect any of these factors will lead to higher pressures.

Sodium, or salt, causes the body to increase the amount of water held in the bloodstream, thus increasing the pressure. Foods that are high in sodium include processed foods such as lunch meats, canned foods, and fast food. It is recommended to eat no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day for most adults and no more than 1,500 mg per day for someone with hypertension. Sodium content is almost always listed on food package labels.

A diet high in fat, especially the saturated fats, will clog the arteries with plaque causing a narrowing of the channel, thereby increasing the pressure in the bloodstream. High cholesterol acts much the same way and should be monitored. Fats are also high calorie foods, which contribute to being overweight, another stress to the cardiovascular system.

Stimulants such as caffeine and tobacco also cause a rise in blood pressure. They constrict the blood vessels, making the heart work harder to pump the blood. Alcohol in excess should also be avoided, as it adversely affects your pressure in ways not yet fully understood.

Foods that are high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium are healthy foods that will lower your hypertension over time and help you achieve weight loss. These foods include all fruits and vegetables, in addition to low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and whole grain products. Realizing a weight loss of even 5 to 15 pounds will usually reduce your blood pressure and may prevent you from having to take prescription medications.


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