If you know that high blood pressure runs in your family, consider yourself lucky. You now have a clear warning sign to prompt you to take steps to avoid developing hypertension yourself, such as changing your eating habits.
You see, high blood pressure is often called “the silent killer”. Most people with hypertension have no recognizable symptoms, even when a blood pressure check reveals that your blood pressure is dangerously high, according to the Mayo Clinic. So knowing that a parent, uncle, aunt, or other family member has high blood pressure, you know that you may also have a genetic predisposition to developing high blood pressure.
But don’t blame the genes alone. Families tend to share the same eating, exercise, and other lifestyle habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. This means that examining your own eating habits and the lifestyle habits of your family members can tell you what changes you may need to make if you want to avoid the same fate. And there’s good reason to take the time to investigate, as high blood pressure tends to lead to serious chronic conditions like heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke.
How to change your health trajectory through your diet.
You can’t stop aging or change your genetics, but you can adjust your lifestyle habits, like what you eat every day, to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
A study in Trafficthe Journal of the American Heart Association, determined that lifestyle modification is a powerful tool for avoiding hypertension, even in people in high genetic risk groups.
Researchers analyzed 314 studies involving more than 2 million people with no history of cardiovascular disease and scored participants based on lifestyle factors such as body mass index, diet, sedentary behavior, alcohol consumption and smoking.
Comparing people with healthy lifestyles to those with poor eating habits and other negative behavioral factors, researchers found that those with healthy habits had a 31% lower risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. cardiovascular disease, even when they had a family history of hypertension.
The takeaway is that you can play a significant role in altering your health trajectory, even if high blood pressure and heart disease run in your family. And you can start by making improvements to something you have ultimate control over: your diet.
Start lowering your risk of high blood pressure by adopting these key eating habits, and for more on how to eat healthy, watch The Best Juice to Drink Every Day, According to Science.
By doing it regularly, you automatically reduce the amount of salt in your diet. And sodium has a big impact on your blood pressure.
When you eat too much salt, it’s harder for your kidneys to remove water from your body. Fluid builds up and raises your blood pressure. the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating about 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, which is enough if you only use salt to season your meals. “Most Americans consume far more than 2,300 mg, mostly from fast food, processed foods, canned foods, and frozen foods,” says a registered dietitian nutritionist. Su Nui Escobar, RDNwith Evolving Dietitians.
She says making the following four steps a habit can dramatically improve your heart health:
- Taste your food before using the salt shaker; you’ll likely find the food to be tasty without the added salt.
- Limit the number of fast food meals you eat.
- Dramatically reduce your intake of prepared foods, such as processed foods and frozen dinners, which are loaded with sodium.
- Choose fresh foods over frozen and canned foods. Even canned vegetables contain a lot of sodium as a preservative. Rinse with water before eating.
This advice applies to everyone but especially people with a family history of high blood pressure.
“Limit meat consumption at meals to a 3 ounce serving – about the size of the palm of your hand – treat heavily marbled red meats and fried foods as a rare treat, cut the fat from all cuts of meat, choose low-fat dairy products, and significantly increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and fiber you eat daily,” says a dietitian nutritionist Rebecca Schilling, RDN, LDNContributor to United States RX.
“Foods high in saturated fat create the perfect storm of heart health issues, clogging arteries, raising bad (LDL) cholesterol and contributing to high blood pressure,” Schilling adds.
If you can’t give up your red meat, at least choose leaner cuts like sirloin, round, or extra-lean ground beef.
RELATED: Food habits to avoid to lower cholesterol after 50, dietitians say
Not only are processed meats like sausages, bacon and deli meats high in saturated fat, they’re loaded with sodium and other preservatives that are unhealthy for your heart, says Melissa Mitri, Dt.P.dietitian for edge of well-being.
“Get into the habit of limiting your processed meat intake as much as possible,” she says. Clinical research shows that doing this can have an impact. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate more than five servings of processed red meat per week had 17% higher rates of high blood pressure than women who ate less than one serving per week.
“We have a really good idea of two diets that are doing a really good job (at lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease) in randomized clinical trials,” says Anthony Kaveh, MDdoctor of integrative medicine and anesthesiologist who writes the Medical secrets revealed Blog. “These are the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.”
The Mediterranean diet is based on traditional foods from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and focuses on plant-based foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, herbs, some fish, poultry and dairy products. Olive oil is the main source of fat. He mainly avoids processed foods, sweets and red meats.
HYPHEN stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is a heart-healthy diet designed specifically to avoid high blood pressure. The DASH diet incorporates many of the same low-sodium foods of the Mediterranean diet, but specifies daily and weekly nutritional goals.
Dietitians and doctors routinely suggest both eating styles for patients with high blood pressure, but these diets aren’t surefire cures because “medicine is never one-size-fits-all,” says Dr. Kaveh. “We can go through a long list of all the foods in the DASH and Mediterranean diets, but if they don’t align with the patient’s cultural values or what they like, and it’s not sustainable, it’s a waste. time,” he said. “The ultimate tool is for patients to know themselves and experiment to find healthy foods they enjoy.”
READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the DASH diet
The essential mineral potassium relieves tension on the walls of your blood vessels, which in turn lowers blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. It helps your kidneys remove sodium from your body through urination. It is therefore important to have enough potassium in your diet to prevent hypertension.
“The best way to eat enough potassium is to make sure you eat fresh vegetables and fruit every day,” Escobar says. Major sources include beans, lentils and other legumes, bananas, leafy greens, broccoli and nuts.
READ MORE: Popular foods with more potassium than a banana
Processed snacks in a bag such as chips and cookies, and baked foods like pastries and bagels are very high in sodium, calories, sometimes saturated fat and added sugars, all of which can contribute to metabolic disorders such as heart disease. But there’s another thing these foods do that’s detrimental to healthy blood pressure. “They are very appetizing, so they encourage overeating and increase the risk of weight gain,” says Mitri.
And weight gain, especially obesity, is a strong risk factor for hypertension. You can add club soda to the list of high-sugar, high-calorie foods that play a big role in obesity and, subsequently, high blood pressure, says Mitri. Replace soda with these best drinks to reduce visceral fat.