Nutrition Notes What if I Have...

What if I Have Hypertension?

May 23, 2015

Have you heard of Hypertension?

Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. Having hypertension means an individual has a blood pressure reading that is 140/90 or higher which can lead to heart complications and strokes. Sadly, high blood pressure is pretty common in the United States, so most of us may know someone who has high blood pressure. For us, this hits close to home as our momma has hypertension.

Luckily, there is a lot of scientific research out there on blood pressure that highlights a few best ways to control and lower your blood pressure. Some of those ways are to quit smoking (if you do smoke), eating less salt, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight that is right for your body, and eating well. If lifestyle changes need a little assistance, there are also blood pressure medications available which is a conversation to have with your doctor to help determine what may be right for you. AND! It’s important to follow your doctor’s directions – our momma gave us quite a scare a couple of weeks ago. She called me and casually said, “Oh, so the doctor freaked out today about how high my blood pressure was. He wanted to put me in the hospital for it.” Now, our mom always seems to have herself under control and she never wants to be a bother to her children with her needs, but in this situation I was like, “WHAT. MOM. WHY. OGAASFHK. Are you okay?!” She said that she “forgot” to take her medication the past couple of days because she didn’t feel like it. I had the chance to give my mom a loving (and stern) lecture on why it’s important for her to follow her doctor’s orders.

We wanted to share a few tips that we have given our mom on ways to easily tweak what you eat that may help to control and lower your blood pressure.

  1.  Toss out that salt shaker! Use spices and herbs to season your food instead of using salt to add extra flavor. When reaching for the salt shaker at meals, this can unconsciously increase the amount of sodium you consume during your day and you might exceed the recommended amount of sodium you should be having daily. High sodium intake has been shown to raise blood pressure levels, so try experimenting with your spice rack instead!
  2.  Snack on fruits and veggies! When you eat more fruits and veggies, you also increase the amount of fiber, potassium, and minerals like magnesium in your diet which can have a positive effect on your blood pressure. Try swapping out processed snacks that are usually loaded with extra salt with an apple, a handful of grapes, or some sliced bell peppers and baby carrots with hummus.
  3. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products! Dairy foods like yogurt, cheese, and milk provide your body with calcium. Research has shown that getting enough calcium in your diet can help lower blood pressure, and by choosing nonfat or lower-fat dairy products, you’ll be consuming fewer calories to help you maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Make fish one night a week! Choose a night during the week to prepare a fishy dinner! Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, have good fats called omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to help lower blood pressure. Try making an easy salmon dinner by baking salmon in your oven drizzled with olive oil, topped with lemon slices, fresh rosemary, and crushed almonds.

We encourage you to make baby-steps and to set small goals that you can reach to help you eat healthier and more mindful to help you control your blood pressure. Our momma has had high blood pressure for about 10 years now, and that recent scare at her doctor’s office really shook her and made her not only reach out to us, but to also research on her own for days on what lifestyle modifications she could do to help.

“You know, I love me some salt. So, once I made the decision to change the way I was eating it was…well, weird for me. But, when I think of the look my doctor had on his face after he took my blood pressure 3 times, that was enough to freak me, and anybody out! I looked into this diet that was created for people who have high blood pressure, the DASH diet*, and I’ve been following it for about two weeks now. I’m still eating the things I love which makes this a bit easier for me. I’m eatin’ tuna and nuts and chocolate chips cookies, which curb my salt and fatty food cravings, but it’s all about moderation. The biggest thing I have noticed too is my energy levels! They’re a lot higher these days and that’s been really great.

I’m realizing it’s all about eating the right things together. You know, I’ve been taking medication for my blood pressure for about 10 years and my blood pressure hasn’t been a problem until recently. The biggest thing I can tell people is to check your blood pressure and know what it is because the signs and symptoms aren’t always there. I think my doctor said it’s the ‘silent killer’ because of that.

Know your blood pressure and work towards reducing the amount of processed food you’re eating if it’s out of the normal range. I’m still working on reducing the amount of Mountain Dew I drink, but even small changes are making a big difference.”

-Tina Abbey (Momma Abbey)

Hypertension post by Allison Abbey

1.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids \ University of Maryland Medical Center
2. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) \ Mayo Clinic
3. Appel L, Champagne C, Harsha D, et al. Effects of comprehensive lifestyle modification on blood pressure control: Main results of the PREMIER clinical trial.  Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol 289(16), Apr 2003, 2083-2093.
4. Sacks F, Svetkey
L, William V, et al. Effects on Blood Pressure of Reduced Dietary Sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet. N Engl J Med. Vol 344, 3-10.

*The DASH Diet is the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. This diet is recommended by the American Heart Association, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, US Guidelines for Treatment of High Blood Pressure, and The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. If you would like to read more about, please click here.

Disclaimer: Abbey Kitchen is not providing medical advice in the place of a doctor; Abbey Kitchen is not affiliated with the DASH diet. Abbey Kitchen researches and analyzes scientific literature based on health topics to provide evidence-based tips and information.

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