What You need To Know About Hypertension
Hypertension is known as the silent, but deadly killer. Here’s what you need to know.
THE STORY: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common disease that affects many adults in the U.S. each year. The higher your blood pressure is, the more at risk for issues such as heart disease and stroke you are. You’re probably used to getting your blood pressure tested each time you visit the doctor, but do you know what the numbers actually mean?
The top number is the pressure in your arteries each time your heart beats. The bottom number is the pressure between beats. Different doctors may diagnose hypertension at different numbers, but, ideally, you want the top number to be 120 or under and the bottom number to be 80 or under.
Hypertension typically doesn’t have any symptoms, so you’ll need to get your blood pressure tested regularly to know where you stand - particularly if you’re in a higher-risk group.
Now that you know what hypertension is, you should know the best foods to eat (or not eat!) to stay healthy. You should also know the ways in which you can prevent hypertension or manage it if it’s already an issue in your life.
FOODS TO AVOID: Foods to avoid eating if you have hypertension (or are trying to not have it) include:
Salt (not just using salt in cooking, but salty snacks, etc)
Whole dairy products
Regular salad dressing
Soup from a can
FOODS TO EAT: On the flip side, there are foods you’ll want to add to your diet when dealing with or trying to avoid hypertension. These include:
Unsalted seeds & nuts
Lean, skinless meat
Low-fat, low-salt cheese
Fresh or frozen veggies
Herbs & spices in place of salt
PREVENT/MANAGE HYPERTENSION: Luckily, there are ways you can both prevent and manage hypertension, and many of the ways to do so are the same whether for prevention or management.
Eat a healthy diet. A diet that includes foods from the “foods to eat” list above can go far in helping control your blood pressure.
Watch your waistline. The more weight around your waist, the more at risk you can be. For men, it’s advisable to stay under 40 inches; for women under 35.
Exercise! Staying physically active will help lower your heart rate which means the less work your heart needs to do and the less pressure on your arteries.
Avoid tobacco. Smoking can raise your blood pressure immediately, but the chemicals from cigarettes or chewing tobacco can also damage your arteries’ wall lining.
Sleep! Getting enough sleep is hard, we know. But a lack of sleep on a regular basis has been linked with higher blood pressure and heart disease.
Eat less sodium. This doesn’t just include salt, but it also includes processed foods. Check food labels - the higher something is listed in the ingredient list, the more of that item there is in the product.
Stress less. Easier said than done, but reducing stress can help keep your blood pressure stable. So, make time to relax and practice self-care.
Take your meds. If you suffer from hypertension and are taking medication to control it, make sure you take your medicine as directed.
THE ROUND-UP: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, often has no symptoms but can lead to negative long-term consequences, making it something to keep an eye on. Testing your blood pressure regularly will help you do this. But, you can also make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent the onset of hypertension, as well as to manage it if you’re already dealing with it. If you need help getting started on making better food choices, check out Top Chef Meal’s low-sodium meals that are chef-prepared, then delivered for easy eating!