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High Blood Pressure - Which Diet Helps?

October 18, 2018
High Blood Pressure - Which Diet Helps? - Lark Health

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High Blood Pressure Diet

What is the best high blood pressure diet? That may be a burning question on your mind if you have been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, or if you have known about your high blood pressure for a while now.

Even if you have not been told that you have high blood pressure, you could be worried about it, since 50% of the people with high blood pressure are unaware that they have it, according to a factsheet from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

You are at higher risk if you are over 45 years old, do not get much exercise, have a family history of high blood pressure, or are African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH).

What’s more is that you are at risk if you are overweight. What these have in common is that you can improve them with diet.

Most people with high blood pressure eventually get heart failure, but here’s a secret: it doesn’t always have to happen. You can prevent or delay heart failure in large part by following a healthy diet for high blood pressure – no gimmicks necessary.

Awareness of high blood pressure could be the best thing that ever happened to you. It gives you the chance to find a high blood pressure diet that works for your health and for your lifestyle.

Once you decide to make those healthy changes, you are more likely to succeed with a support system that works for you, and a health app could be what you need for information and accountability.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Here are the things that contribute to hypertension:

  • Lack of physical activity. Your heart must work harder to pump blood through your body, and force on your arteries is higher says WebMD.
  • A high-sodium, low-potassium diet outlines the CDC. Sodium, which is mostly found in salt, raises blood pressure by increasing water retention and blood volume, while potassium has the opposite effect.
  • Use of tobacco. Smoking and chewing tobacco raise blood pressure and damage your arteries.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption. Moderate consumption of red wine can be good for your heart in some cases, but alcohol abuse over time can raise blood pressure.

So What Is the Best Diet for Hypertension?

Increasing Diet Quality

Most Americans get too much sodium and not enough potassium, and that can be a blood pressure-raising combination. Shifting the balance can help lower blood pressure by a few points, cites a guide from the Mayo Clinic. These choices can help you change the balance to get more potassium and less sodium.

  • Consume more beans, vegetables, fruit, fish, and yogurt.
  • Limit processed and prepared foods, such as canned foods, snack foods, processed meats, and frozen foods.
  • Limit prepared foods, such as fast food and deli salads.
  • Stay away from salty foods, such as salty sauces and dressings, cheese, and pickles.
lower high blood pressure with diet

Sodium and potassium may be the nutrients you hear about most often for blood pressure, but other nutrients can also help keep your numbers in check.

  • Vitamin C: in vegetables and fruit.
  • Vitamin D: in fortified milk and fatty fish.
  • Fiber: in vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fruit.
  • Calcium: in dairy products, dairy substitutes, and leafy greens.

As you think about boosting good nutrients, you can also think about limiting the bad ones.

  • Choose lean meats and fish instead of fatty cuts.
  • Choose lower-fat dairy products
  • Swap olive oil, avocados, and nut butters for butter, shortening, and lard
  • Take fruit instead of baked goods or ice cream for a sweet treat
  • Look for whole grain versions instead of opting for refined cereal and white bread, pasta, and rice

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet is a meal plan that can help you get more of the blood pressure-lowering nutrients and less of the blood pressure-raising villains. A clinical trial from the NIH found that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure within weeks.

It is higher than the average diet in vegetables, fruit, and dairy products. It is lower than the average diet in added sugars, refined starches, and red meat. You can follow a DASH diet by including the following foods in your regular plan.

  • 6 1-ounce servings of grains per day – focus on whole grain options
  • 4 to 5 servings of vegetables per day
  • 4 to 5 servings of fruit per day
  • 2 to 3 servings of low-fat dairy products per day
  • Up to 6 1-ounce servings of lean meat, poultry, or fish per day
  • 4 servings per week of nuts and seeds
  • 2 to 3 servings per day of healthy fats and oils

This may seem like a lot to remember, but you do not need to do it on your own. Lark Health coach can help you follow a DASH-style diet while considering your individual lifestyle. The app encourages healthier choices on a daily basis.

Avoiding Tobacco Use

Smoking can increase your risk for hypertension, not to mention heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other conditions. A hypertension study published in the Journal of the AHA (The American Heart Institute), “Hypertension,” found that normotensive smokers who quit smoking for a week reduced their blood pressure by nearly 4 points systolic and 2 points diastolic.

Avoiding chewing tobacco and secondhand smoke can also lower blood pressure or risk for hypertension, as concluded in a separate article from the AHA. If you use Lark, you can reach out to support@lark.com to see if you’re eligible for coaching to help cut back on or quit tobacco!  

Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is more than just a luxury or an escape. It is a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle if you want to lower risk for conditions including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and blood pressure. Even a night of sleep deprivation can interfere with your body’s ability to control blood pressure, and being chronically short on sleep can increase hypertension risk.

Many adults fall short of their recommended amounts of sleep, but you can take steps to get adequate shut-eye.

  • Have a consistent bed-time
  • Follow a relaxing pre-bed routine
  • Be sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool
  • Avoid phone, computer, and TV screens 30 minutes before bed
  • Use a health coach that also tracks sleep

How do you monitor your hypertension diet?

You are putting in the work, so you deserve to maximize the benefits. Lark serves all the functions of a regular coach: informing, motivating, guiding, cheering, and organizing. The best weight loss health coach app:

  • Informs you about healthy ways to lose weight and incorporate healthy behaviors into your lifestyle
  • Motivates you to keep setting and chasing new goals
  • Guides you through your weight loss journey in your own way
  • Cheers your successes, your efforts, and, should you fall short of your goals for a time, your renewed dedication
  • Organizes by encouraging you to log your food, activity and weight, and storing that information

Lark even learns your patterns and coaches around them. Do you prefer a gluten-free or dairy-free lifestyle? You’ll get tips on healthy ways to get your nutrients without eating gluten or dairy products. Do you normally take an afternoon walk? Then do not be surprised if Lark gives you a gentle nudge if you forget to take it one day.

About Lark

Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.

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