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Small Diet Changes That Have a Big Impact on Your Blood Pressure

Small Diet Changes That Have a Big Impact on Your Blood Pressure

Enough can’t be said about the effect that your diet can have on your health, which holds especially true for your cardiovascular health. If, like nearly half of adults in the United States, you have high blood pressure, one of the best ways to get your numbers back down to safer levels is through your diet.

While the team here at South Mountain Cardiology, including Dr. Nadeem Husain, nurse Patti Cox, and nurse Kim Munneke, can do our part to treat high blood pressure, the steps you take at the kitchen table are equally as effective. And these dietary tweaks aren’t all that difficult to implement.

Start with the salt shaker

Salt is enemy number one when it comes to high blood pressure. When you add salt to your foods, your body retains water to flush it out and it falls to your blood vessels to accomplish this task. This added workload can lead to hypertension.

Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, we urge you to turn instead to other seasonings like garlic, onion powder, and lemon to provide great flavor to your foods.

Beyond the salt shaker

One of the most beneficial dietary changes you can make to lower your blood pressure is to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. While banishing the salt shaker is certainly a step in the right direction, salt, in the form of sodium, lurks everywhere.

For example, most “convenience foods” are loaded with sodium, including cured deli meats (salami, bacon, etc.), frozen pizzas, canned soups and meals, salted nuts, and cheese spreads and dips. The huge sodium content in these foods isn’t simply a flavoring, it’s designed to preserve these foods.

We understand that these foods are convenient, but small steps like swapping out your bacon at breakfast for fruit and yogurt or opting for unsalted nuts rather than the salted variety, can really have a positive impact on your vascular health. 

Other great tips include choosing canned vegetables without added salt, avoiding seasoned (and salted) skin on poultry, and not putting salt into the water you’re boiling for pasta.

Reduce saturated fat

Another culprit when it comes to high blood pressure are foods packed with saturated fat, which encompasses many, if not most, processed foods. Saturated fats can build up in your blood vessels, which forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body.

Aside from processed snacks, other foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats include fatty meats (such as lamb), dairy products, processed meats, and butter.

A great way to tell if something contains saturated versus unsaturated fat is whether the food can harden into a solid form. Unsaturated fat, like that found in olive oil, for example, won’t ever congeal as it stays in a liquid form. On the other hand, if you’ve ever left cooked meat out for any time, you’ll find that the fat eventually hardens. Some products are already hardened, such as butter, which makes identifying the saturated fat easier.

By eliminating or reducing saturated fats from your diet, you can allow your blood vessels to function more freely, without having to work around fat deposits that harden on your arterial walls.

So, instead of grabbing that burger, why not try some grilled, skinless chicken instead? And instead of greasy chips, try carrots or celery.

While these heart-healthy dietary steps are enough to get you started, there are more ways in which you can lower your blood pressure and we’re happy to share them with you. Simply contact our office in Tempe, Arizona, to get started.

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