Healthy Eating to Control Your Blood Pressure

Healthy Eating to Control Your Blood Pressure
Sue Mah

By: Sue Mah

Registered Dietitian,
in collaboration with Dairy Farmers of Canada

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Over five million Canadians have high blood pressure. Here's what you can do to prevent hypertension and lower your blood pressure.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. From apples and bananas to watercress and zucchini, all vegetables and fruit are naturally rich in potassium and low in sodium. According to Health Canada, a healthy diet containing foods high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Today's tip: Have at least one vegetable or fruit at every meal and snack. Aim to get seven to 10 servings every day.

Enjoy milk products. Many people with hypertension are advised to follow the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Along with a focus on vegetables and fruit, the DASH Diet recommends two to three servings of low-fat dairy products, which is the same number of servings recommended in Canada's Food Guide. The combination of nutrients found in milk products - such as calcium, magnesium and potassium - seem to work together to help lower blood pressure.

Today's tip: Know what a serving size is and get enough every day. One serving is: 250 mL (1 cup) of milk; 175 g (¾ cup) yogurt or kefir; 50 g (1½ oz or about 2 slices) cheese; 125 mL (½ cup) grated cheese.

Cut back on sodium. Eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure. Over 75 per cent of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods such as deli meats, pizza, sauces and soups. Healthy adults only need 1,500 mg of sodium per day, but most of us are eating more than double that amount.

Today's tip: Read food labels and choose foods that are lower in sodium. Make meals and snacks using herbs and spices instead of cooking with salt.

Watch your alcohol intake. If you do drink alcohol, limit it to no more than two drinks a day for women and three drinks a day for men.

Today's tip: Find healthy ways to manage stress without alcohol. Try exercise, meditation or massage.

Remember that a healthy lifestyle is key to good health. Be smoke-free. Enjoy moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 150 minutes every week. Aim to reach and maintain a healthy weight - if you are overweight, losing five per cent of your weight can help to reduce blood pressure - and that's a good start!

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