|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • EXTENSION CONNECTION: The Lowdown on High Blood Pressure

  • Did you know that high blood pressure is the leading cause of early death in women? Or that it’s a leading cause of early death for men, second only to smoking? Healthy blood pressure numbers are less than 120 for the top number and less than 80 on the bottom.

    • email print
  • Did you know that high blood pressure is the leading cause of early death in women? Or that it’s a leading cause of early death for men, second only to smoking? Healthy blood pressure numbers are less than 120 for the top number and less than 80 on the bottom.
    Following this advice can even to help prevent getting high blood pressure!
    Halt the Salt.
    One of the best ways to lower high blood pressure is to reduce the amount of salt (or sodium) that you eat. That means doing more than not using the salt shaker at the table or for cooking, although that can help. About three fourths of the sodium in the U.S. diet is from processed foods and restaurant foods.
    To learn ways to cut back on salt, check out these tips.
    Move More. Being physically active on a regular basis strengthens your heart. A strong heart can pump blood through the body with less effort. This decreases the blood pressure on your arteries. Increasing your physical activity level may lower your blood pressure in just a few weeks. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately-intense aerobic activity on most days. Remember that shorter bouts of activity count, too. You can get good results with two 15-minute sessions, or three 10-minute sessions, a day.
    Lose Weight. Did you know that carrying excess body weight causes your heart to work harder? This increases the pressure on your arteries. Losing just five to ten of those “extra” pounds can help your health by decreasing your blood pressure.
    Limit Alcohol. Alcohol can be either good or bad for your health, depending on the amount you drink. In small amounts (less than one drink a day for women and less than two a day for men), alcohol may lower your blood pressure a little. But the protective effect is lost with too much alcohol. If you don’t normally drink alcohol, experts advise against starting, because there’s more potential harm than benefit from drinking it.
    Save Money while Slashing Salt Intake
    Health experts advise people at higher risk ? including blacks, those who already have high blood pressure, and adults ages 51 years and older ? to get no more than 1500 mg sodium daily. Here are ways to cut the salt from your diet AND to be more savvy with your money:
    • Eat more foods from the farm and fewer from the factory. Buy as close to natural as possible, since processed packaged foods typically contain much more sodium than minimally processed ones. If you do buy a packaged food product, buy a “no added salt” or a reduced-sodium version when possible. Also, compare the food labels of similar products. For example, fresh tomatoes have virtually no sodium; the sodium content of one brand of tomato soup is 1100 mg per serving; and the sodium in another brand of tomato soup is 600 mg sodium per serving.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Eat restaurant foods less often. One hamburger at a popular U.S. restaurant contains 6,400 mg sodium, which is four times more than the daily amount recommended! Cooking your own sandwich at home will likely be much lower in sodium, and will also save you time and money. If you do dine out, ask that your meal be made with no added salt. At national restaurant chains, choose lower sodium options after asking about the nutrition information of their foods.
    • Be aware of certain foods. Foods that are high in sodium include: frozen dinners, commercially-prepared soups, canned vegetables, canned and cured meats, condiments, cheeses, breads and baked goods. An alternative choice is to make your own soups, such as this potato soup recipe. Many processed foods that are reduced in fat or low in fat have had salt added to them to enhance their taste. For example, 1 ounce of salted peanuts contains only about half of the sodium found in 1 ounce of low-fat colby or cheddar cheese (91 mg sodium for the peanuts, 174 mg sodium for the low-fat cheese)!
    • Be smart about food labels. The only way to really know how much sodium is in a packaged food is to read the Nutrition Facts on the label. If you buy packaged foods, become aware of the terms that you may see on the front of the package. Below is the definition of what each claim means:
    Sodium free – Fewer than 5 mg sodium per serving.
    Very low in sodium – No more than 35 mg sodium per serving.
    Low in sodium – No more than 140 mg sodium per serving.
    Unsalted – No salt was added during processing.
    Light in sodium – Half or less of the sodium in the original product.
    Reduced sodium – One-fourth or less of the sodium in the original product.
    Healthy – Less than 480 mg sodium for an individual food, or 600 mg sodium for a meal (such as a frozen dinner).

        calendar