Many people strive to lose weight, start exercising, and look to dietary changes when they receive their first high blood pressure diagnosis. High blood pressure damages arterial walls, may lead to heart attack or stroke and can damage the kidneys. Dubbed the silent killer, it rarely causes symptoms.
High Blood Pressure Risk Factors
Before age 45, men are more likely to have high blood pressure. However, most people eventually develop blood pressure issues with age. Additionally, African Americans are more likely to get high blood pressure at earlier ages. While sex, age, and race are all risk factors, almost 60% of people with diabetes also experience high blood pressure. Also, overweight individuals experience increased disadvantage.
What Can You Do to Help Prevent or Lower Blood Pressure
Of course, you cannot alter the essence of who you are. You cannot change your race or your sex. And, medical science hasn’t discovered how to reverse aging, so getting younger remains in the realms of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy movies. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
- Get more physical. An active lifestyle can help keep blood pressure in check.
- If you are overweight, lose weight.
- Eat a high fiber, low-sodium diet.
- Eat more whole foods and fewer processed foods. Most dietary sodium comes from canned goods and processed foods. If you must eat canned foods, look for low sodium alternatives.
- Control stress. Find ways to reduce stress.
- Limit alcohol consumption to two servings a day for men – and one a day for women.
- If you cannot reduce your blood pressure through lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking that may cause it.
Several years ago, I was on high blood pressure medication. Simply by changing my diet, losing weight, and increasing exercise, I no longer need that medicine. My blood pressure still runs in the pre-hypertensive range and bare watching. So I work to maintain my healthy lifestyle habits.
Let’s Talk about the DASH diet
Usually, I am not a fan of prescribed diets. I prefer to eat what I want in reasonable portions and make my own healthy food choices. However, I do like the DASH diet.
DASH, an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a diet designed to teach you how to eat for improved heart health. The American Heart Association endorses The DASH diet. It limits sweets and sugary treats, tropical oils, red meats, sodium, and trans-fats. While the American Heart Association offers an informative, downloadable PDF further expounding on the DASH diet, I also received a DASH diet cookbook you may like.
DASH Diet for Beginners
The DASH Diet for Beginners by Sam Kuma (available on Amazon) offers a 2-week meal plan offering complete meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even desserts! While you can follow the book’s meal plans, the book also organizes the recipes by meal-type (i.e., soups, breakfast, etc.).
Do not expect elaborate recipes that take an hour to prepare. Most of these recipes come together quickly and easily. Like the title says, it’s a beginner’s cookbook. It’s an easy-to-follow guide to get you started on the DASH diet.
While the book offers many nutritious recipes, I do want to issue a few caveats about the book.
- While it’s a book about a diet that limits sodium, the book offers no nutritional information about the recipes. I suggest using MyFitnessPal or a similar recipe calculator.
- The book frequently calls on canned goods (like tomatoes, broth, etc.). However, most of the recipes do NOT specify to use lower sodium versions. I’m sure Sam Kuma believed that it was just common sense, but not everyone reads food labels. I prefer that to be spelled out.
- The book’s intro contains a few grammatical errors and only cursory information about the DASH diet. I believe the author could have elaborated further on this fantastic diet.
The Red Lentil Stew recipe below comes straight from the book, with a few simple modifications to fit our tastes. The author called for kale. I meant to substitute spinach (but completely forgot it. OOPS!). Just stir in 1 cup of baby spinach at cook-time end if you desire. He called for vegetable broth. So you have greater control over sodium content, I suggest making your own homemade broth. It’s easy and free. To keep the recipe DASH diet friendly, be sure to use low-sodium canned tomatoes.
We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.