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Health Information for the Public

The Wisdom Family Takes Five Steps To Prevent or Control Blood Pressure

Your Choice for Change - Honoring the Gift of Heart Health for American Indians

Section Three - Help Your Heart! Control Your High Blood Pressure

This family plan can help you prevent high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, it can help you lower it.

Will: "High blood pressure runs in my family. My mother has high blood pressure; she takes medication to lower it. My wife Sally has prehypertension and is now taking steps to prevent high blood pressure. My whole family follows a heart healthy eating plan and has a more active lifestyle to keep our blood pressures normal. I want to be a good role model for my children."

  1. Cut down on sodium.

    • Buy fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of salty chips and crackers.
    • Buy fresh, frozen, or no-salt-added canned vegetables.
    • Choose fewer canned and processed foods like bacon, hotdogs, sausage, meat jerky, bologna, pepperoni, salami, ham, canned or potted meat, dried and packaged soups and noodles, pickles, and olives.
    • Read the Nutrition Facts labels to compare the amount of sodium in food.

    Tips on using the Nutrition Facts label to compare sodium in foods.
    • Choose foods that have 5 percent or less of the Daily Value for sodium.
    • Limit foods with 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for sodium.
    • Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less per day.

    Compare these Nutrition Facts labels on regular soup and reduced-sodium soup.

    Which one is the better choice?

    Reduced-Sodium Soup
    Regular Soup
    Reduced-sodium soup with 210mg of sodium, 9% of the Daily Value
    Regular soup with 820mg of sodium, 34% of the Daily Value

    The regular soup has almost four times more sodium than the reduced-sodium soup.

    Mary Has Learned Ways To Eat Less Sodium

    Mary: "To make food taste good without salt, I use cilantro, cumin, fresh garlic, parsley, onion, green pepper, oregano, and even a dash of chili powder when I cook. Everyone in my family has gotten used to the taste of food with less salt."

    Mary's Seasoning Recipe

    Fill the saltshaker with this combination of herbs and spices, and use it, instead of salt, to flavor foods:

    • ½ cup paprika
    • 2 tablespoons oregano
    • 2 teaspoons dried chili peppers
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • ½ teaspoon red pepper

    • Cut back a little each day on the amount of salt.
    • Use reduced-sodium bouillon cubes, soy sauce, and ketchup.
    • Take the saltshaker off the table.
    • Use a mixture of herbs, spices, and chili powder instead of salt.

  2. Eat heart healthy foods.

    • Cook with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
    • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk products.
    • Cook with lean meats, wild game, chicken without the skin, and fish.Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: Talk to your health care provider to find out what types of fish are lower in mercury. Mercury may be harmful for your baby.
    • Choose unsalted nuts, seeds, and cooked dry beans.
    • Cook with small amounts of fats and oils.

  3. Limit alcohol.

    • Men who drink should have no more than two drinks a day.
    • Women who drink should have no more than one drink a day.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not drink any alcohol.

  4. Watch your weight.

    • Take steps to lose weight if you are overweight.
    • Eat smaller portions and do not go back for a second serving.
    • Be active for at least 30 minutes a day, and slowly increase to 60 minutes.

  5. Take your medicines.

    • If you have high blood pressure, take your medicine(s) the way your doctor tells you.
    • Do not share medicines with friends or family.
    • If you cannot afford your medicine, let your doctor know. There may be programs to help you buy your medicine.
    • Use notes and other reminders to take your medicine. Ask your family to help you with reminder phone calls.
    • When you go to the doctor, take all of your medicine bottles with you.

* Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: Talk to your health care provider to find out what types of fish are lower in mercury. Mercury may be harmful for your baby.

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Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NIH Publication No. 08-6340
June 2008

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