About 75 million American adults or approximately 29% have high blood pressure. This is 1 in every 3 adults.
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Here are some simple changes and habits that you can develop to get your blood pressure down to a healthy level:
1. Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Meals that are rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain, high-fiber, low-fat dairy products, beans, skinless poultry, nuts, lean meats, and omega-3 fatty fish
- Switch from white rice to brown rice and quinoa
- Use extra virgin olive oil (EVVO) in cooking and coconut oil or applesauce in baking
- Limit sugar, sodium, butter, saturated and trans fats
- Avoid fast food, deep-fried food, packaged mixes and sweet snacks, processed/cured meats, margarine, candy, sugary cereals, soft drinks and sugar- sweetened juices
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water daily
- Consume alchohol in moderation
2. Regular physical activity
Make it a goal to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (good options: brisk walking, cycling, swimming) 5 days a week. Avoid long periods of sitting. If you have a job where you sit at a desk, be sure that you take periodic walking breaks. Sometimes it is helpful to have a friend that you exercise with to hold you more accountable.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying extra pounds puts pressure on your blood pressure and the health of your heart. The best way to lose weight is to reduce your calorie intake and increase physical activity to burn the calories. Consider setting up appointments to meet and/or work with a personal trainer and nutritionist if you need help reaching your weight goals.
4. Control stress
High stress can raise blood pressure. Look at what is on your plate that you can delegate to someone else to lower your stress. Yoga, meditation, and soaking in a warm bath with essential oils are all great stress relievers. If you are chronically stressed or it is causing mental health issues, be sure to visit a mental health professional.
5. Monitor blood pressure
Get in the habit of monitoring your blood pressure often. Invest in a home blood pressure monitoring device to measure it daily. Chart it to keep track of to discuss with your doctor at your next visit. It can be beneficial to look for patterns in your daily activities that influence your blood pressure readings.
6. Quit smoking
This one may not be applicable if you don’t smoke. Smoking and chewing tobacco immediately raises your blood pressure temporarily. Over time the chemicals in tobacco damage the lining of your artery walls causing them to narrow and increase your blood pressure. Please be aware that even being around secondhand smoke can increase blood pressure.