You are what you eat, the old saying goes. But it’s truer than ever with high blood pressure. Weight loss, a well-balanced diet, and salt intake reduction can lower blood pressure. These approaches, however, haven’t successfully kept blood pressure down in most patients. A new approach is needed.
- Don’t try to change all at once. Gradually reduce your meats and increase your fruits and vegetables.
- Increase fruit and vegetable servings by having two at each meal and two for a snack.
- If you’re lactose intolerant, take lactase pills with the dairy foods or buy lactose-free milk.
- Use the percent Daily Values on food labels to pick the foods that are lowest in saturated fats, total fats, cholesterol, and salt.
- Reduce your fats so you’re eating half your normal intake; emphasize vegetable fats over animal fats.
- Avoid soda, alcohol, and other sugar-sweetened drinks.
- Use fruits as desserts.
- Instead of meat, fish, or poultry, make grains (like pasta and rice), beans, and vegetables the center of the meal.
The fatter you are, the higher your blood pressure. For every 2.2 pounds of weight loss, your blood pressure drops by 1 mm of mercury systolic and 1 mm of mercury diastolic. In other words, if your blood pressure has been 135/85 and you lose 11 pounds, your blood pressure will fall to 130/80.