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Blood Pressure Reduction: A Dietary Approach

Diet plays an important role in our lives. High blood pressure is one such area that diet can help some people reduce high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure Defined
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90. Often called the “silent killer” hypertension has no noticeable symptoms to alert you that you have the disease.

High blood pressure affects one in four adult Americans — approximately 72 million people — and only about 35 percent of them can control it. High blood pressure affects the heart, kidneys, eyes and brain functions. Studies have shown that factors such as excess body weight, alcohol abuse along with a diet high in sodium and low in potassium increase a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure. Consuming foods rich in potassium has been associated with a reduction in blood pressure by increasing sodium excretion from the body.

Diet Recommendations
The Institute of Medicine and the American Heart Association recommends 4,700 mg of potassium daily. While many American adults fall far below this amount, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help them meet their daily quota.

Food Item Amount Potassium Content
Banana 1 medium 555 mg
Green grapes 1cup 220 mg
Kiwi fruit 1 medium 252 mg
Orange 1 medium 237 mg
Peach 1 medium 234 mg
Brussels sprouts, cooked 1 cup 504 mg
Sweet potato 1 small 300 mg
Tomato 1 medium 366 mg
Peanuts, roasted 4 oz 404 mg

Reducing sodium intake to below 3,000 mg daily is recommended for the general population.  For patients who have high blood pressure many doctors recommend dropping sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,000 mg daily. Many Americans consume far greater than these amounts, averaging 4,000 mg or more each day.

Eliminating or greatly reducing the amount of salt you sprinkle onto food or to dishes you prepare is highly recommended due to the fact that 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. Eating processed foods — foods in a box, can or bag — potentially have a high sodium content because of added preservatives or other artificial ingredients. Eating foods in their most natural state is the best way to eat low sodium. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium and contain potassium in varying amounts.

Before you buy foods in a box, can or bag read the label and decide if that food is the best choice for you and your family.

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