by Megan Callahan, Hy-Vee Corporate Dietitian
If high blood pressure has you down, do yourself (and your heart) a favor and fight for better readings. According to the American Heart Association, almost half of American adults live with this condition, yet don’t even know it.
A reading of 130/80 and higher is considered elevated, and since symptoms can be silent, it’s often left untreated. In turn, this can cause severe damage to our circulatory systems and lead to serious issues, such as a heart attack or stroke.
Many of us can bring our blood pressure within a healthy range without conforming to a boring diet. Remove the images of unseasoned egg whites and limp steamed veggies from your mind. Bringing your blood pressure into a healthy range is more than just doable – it’s downright delicious. Fortunately, some of the most flavorful foods that regulate a healthy blood pressure are filled with cold-fighting vitamins and great for weight management, too. (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?) Let’s break it down.
Fish: Most high-fat foods won’t make the blood pressure fighting meal plan, yet fatty fish, like salmon, is a major exception to that rule. Loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fats, salmon has been shown to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure, making this lean source of protein a must-eat for anyone who has seen blood pressure creep up into a concerning range. Aim for two servings of seafood per week, or ask a Hy-Vee dietitian for help in selecting a suitable supplement.
Potatoes: Put spuds on your grocery list and lower your blood pressure at the same time. Both white and sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium – a triple threat in fighting hypertension. Need a quick cooking tip? Poke a potato with a fork and microwave for seven minutes. Serve with a lean piece of protein and a side of veggies for a delicious, nutritious dinner that will make not only your tummy happy, but your heart, too.
Fruit: Replace those sugar-heavy treats for a naturally sweet pick, like fruit, and watch your blood pressure fall into doctor-approved territory. Snack smarter by choosing a high-fibrous fruit such as cherries, citrus, apples or strawberries, and lower your readings – and your chances of a sugar crash – in one fell swoop.
Leafy Greens: Make like Popeye and add spinach to your daily routine to blast your blood pressure numbers back to normal. Spinach is one of the easiest foods to “sneak” into every dish. From smoothies to eggs to casseroles and sauces, this green produce pick should be a go-to for even the pickiest of palates. With an ample amount of potassium, folate and magnesium packed within its leaves, it’s a recipe for success when spinach makes the plate.
Whether you’ve been newly diagnosed with this condition or are just being proactive, keep in mind the importance that diet plays in managing high blood pressure. Colorful produce, fewer salty snacks, and more filling fibrous foods make for a tasty day. In turn, you’ll be pleased with your blood pressure numbers.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Megan Callahan is one of your Hy-Vee Corporate Dietitians. She is dedicated to helping people live healthier and happier lives. Megan received a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Missouri State University. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she also received her Master of Science degree in dietetics and nutrition. Megan has been working with Hy-Vee full-time for 10 years. Megan lives in Lee’s Summit with her husband Matt, and their 2 children Kennedy (4) & Carsyn (2).