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May is Blood Pressure Education Month
Diet alone can often be enough to control blood pressure.

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month — an opportune time to get your blood pressure checked. “Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure: Mission Possible” is the initiative designed by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program to mobilize all Americans in the fight against high blood pressure. Approximately 1 in 4 Americans suffer from high blood pressure, and fortunately, this can be controlled.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and the chief risk factor for stroke and heart failure. It can also lead to kidney disease. May is designated as a time to educate people about the importance of preventing and treating high blood pressure.

Research has shown that following a healthy diet plan can both reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, and lower an already elevated blood pressure. A recent study, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), showed blood pressure could be lowered by following an eating pattern low in salt, saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol and rich in fruits, vegetables, whole gains and low-fat dairy products.

The DASH study shows the importance of lowering sodium intake whatever your current diet may be, but the biggest reported benefits were for people who reduced their intake of sodium to less than 1,500 mg per day.

To begin using the DASH diet consider implementing the following:

Add a vegetable serving to lunch and dinner if not already present
Add a fruit serving to each meal, or have as a snack
Use only half the margarine, salad dressing, or butter
Gradually increase diary products to three servings per day. Drink skim milk with lunch and dinner
Try low-fat or fat-free condiments
Treat meat as one-fourth of the whole meal, or 6 ounces per day; 3 ounces at lunch, 3 ounces at dinner
Include two or more vegetarian-style (meatless) meals each week
Increase servings of vegetables, rice, pasta and dry beans in meals. Try casseroles, pasta and stir fry dishes with less meat and more vegetables
Use fruits or low-fat foods as desserts ad snacks. Use fruits canned in their own juice, or fresh fruits that require little to no preparation.
Try these snack ideas: raw vegetables, unsalted pretzels or nuts mixed with raisins, graham crackers, low-fat and fat-free yogurts, plain popcorn with a saltless spice blend instead of butter and salt.
The following web sites offer helpful information:

Find the DASH diet on this National Institutes of Health web page.

American Dietetic Association: www.eatright.org

National Institute of Nutrition: http://www.nin.ca

 

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