This family plan can help you prevent high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, it can help you lower it.
Carlos says: "High blood pressure runs in my family. We follow a plan to prevent high blood pressure."
1. Cut down on sodium.
- Buy fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of salty chips or crackers.
- Choose fewer canned and processed foods like hotdogs, sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, ham, canned or dried soups, pickles, and olives.
- Season foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.
- Use reduced-sodium bouillon cubes, soy sauce, and ketchup.
- Fill the saltshaker with a mixture of herbs and spices.
- Read the Nutrition Facts labels to compare the amount of sodium in food.
Compare these Nutrition Facts labels on regular soup and reduced-sodium soup.
Which soup is the better choice?
Answer: The reduced-sodium soup is the better choice. The regular soup has almost four times more sodium than the reduced-sodium soup.
Try these tips to cut down on sodium
- Choose foods that are 5 percent or less of the Daily Value for sodium.
- Limit foods that have 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for sodium.
- Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less per day.
2. Eat heart healthy foods.
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Choose fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk products.
- Choose lean meats, chicken without the skin, and fish.
- Choose unsalted nuts, seeds, and cooked dry beans.
- Cook with small amounts of fats and oils.
3. Limit alcohol.
- Having more than three drinks a day can raise blood pressure.
- 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 nursing women should not drink any alcohol.
4. Watch your weight.
- Take steps to lose weight if you are overweight.
- Eat smaller portions—do not go back for a second serving.
- Be physically 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 medicines 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.
- When you go to the doctor, take all of your medicine bottles with you.
- Use notes and other reminders to take your medicine. Ask your family to help you with reminder phone calls.
Questions to ask the doctor if you are given high blood pressure medicine:
- When should I take it?
- What can I eat or drink with it?
- What other medicines are okay to take at the same time?
*Pregnant and nursing mothers: Talk to your health care provider to find out the types of fish you can eat that are lower in mercury. Mercury can be harmful for your baby.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NIH Publication No. 08-6352