Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure


While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation —  otherwise known as high  blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys,  and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by  stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity,  smoking, or  just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting  back  on sodium, according to the American  Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg —  about 1  teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches —  also good for  those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help  you cut your salt  intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners They’re quick  and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a   huge sodium punch — as  much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to — and many of  them don’t have enough vegetables  to help you meet your  daily  requirements. For fast meals on busy nights,  freeze leftovers or  try make-ahead  casseroles that go from freezer to oven to  table with a  minimum of  effort (like Emeril’s Mexican  Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure  you’re  getting the right  nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice Start  by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil,  dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon  or lime juice, flavored  vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite  recipes.



3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads Salads,  sandwiches,  and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner  options,  but you can  inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup,  mustard, soy sauce, and salad  dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic  vinegar  on your greens, use fresh  tomatoes on your burger, and look  for low-sodium  versions of other  condiments — or just make sure to  watch your portions (one  tablespoon  of regular ketchup has a whopping  160-190 mg of sodium). Some  companies  do the work for you, though: This  spring, according to the Huffington  Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked  its  classic ketchup recipe to  cut the sodium by 15 percent in response  to new FDA  salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For   Homemade Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving   can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying  for the  convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they  pretty much  require two things — water and time — and you can flavor  them with vegetables,  herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a  crowd. Many companies also  offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of  popular soups, broths, and  vegetables (but check the sodium levels on  your frozen  vegetables, too, especially if they come with  seasonings or sauces:  sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat  all  winter.



5. Avoid the Brine Pickles,  olives, sauerkraut, and just about any  other  vegetables that come in a  brine may not feel unhealthy,  but those  brines were designed to  preserve the food — which means  there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in  these  foods, and try your hand at canning  your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to  be sure  you know exactly  how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats Bacon,  ham, salami, and other cured meats are another  sodium obstacle:  According to the NIH  DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or  poultry contains  between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of  roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace  them with fresh chicken, pork,  fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch  out for smoked and  processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium  levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks It  doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in  sodium than  sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably  tell you all by  themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers,   chips, and pretzels with fresh  fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just  can’t resist a  snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn,  low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour Choosing whole  wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help  lower blood  pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and  salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour),  and  they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing  many  health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta  without adding salt to the cooking  water, and you could end up with as little  as 5 mg of sodium per  serving. (Leesa recommends The Pure Wraps made from Coconut and Quinoa for those who need to eat Gluten-Free!)



9. Say No to Buttermilk Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of  its less-flavorful  cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot  more than  just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural  (not  processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain   blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate Okay, here’s  one piece of  good news: Dark  chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to  avoid, since  some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help  lower  blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat,  you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small  amounts, it can  have health benefits that go beyond a sugar  rush. (Leesa recommends Vivani 85% Org Dark Chocolate!)

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHugger




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