A Meal Plan Proven to Lower Your Blood Pressure
How’s your blood pressure? If you don’t know – or if it is elevated – you may want to pay heed and take steps to ensure it falls into the proper range.
Health experts estimate high blood pressure affects more than a billion people— and that number is rising.
Hmmm, if only there was a diet to let you eat your way to healthier numbers and lessen your need for medications. Oh wait … there is. It’s best-known as the DASH Diet – and we here at Meal Plan Map have a tasty variation we have branded the Hypertension-Friendly Plan.
Our Hypertension-Friendly Plan automatically populates your meal plan calendar with delicious recipes created by culinary experts and analyzed by registered dietitians. The meals are based on your personal goals and preferences. The end result is a lower weight and a better blood pressure.
According to Healthline.com: “The number of people with high blood pressure has doubled in the last 40 years — a serious health concern, as high blood pressure is linked to a higher risk of conditions such as heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.”
The DASH diet was designed to reduce high blood pressure. Followers eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, while restricting their intake of red meat, salt, added sugars and fat. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
It’s a proven way to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
And, once again, this healthy eating plan sits atop U.S. News Best Diets Rankings.
Some scientists believe that one of the main reasons people with high blood pressure can benefit from a DASH-like diet is due to a reduction in salt intake.
In case you didn’t know, blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:
Systolic blood pressure (the first number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
Diastolic blood pressure (the second number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.
The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:
Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.
Hypertension Stage 1
Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension Stage 2
Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
**The AHA warns that if your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 and you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.
A DASH-like diet actually offers a number of potential benefits, including weight loss. If you have high blood pressure, odds are you’ve been urged to lose weight.
Other potential benefits for following a DASH-like diet:
- Decreases cancer risk
- Lowers metabolic syndrome risk
- Lowers diabetes risk
- Decreases heart disease risk
ScienceDaily.com recently noted Americans are concerned about their weight, but don’t quite understand its link to heart conditions.
“Most Americans understand abstractly that being overweight or obese is not good for your health, but it seems we are not grasping that the leading causes of death and disability – stroke, cancer, coronary artery disease – are all adversely affected by increased weight,” said Steven Nissen, MD, chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
February is Heart Month. Check your blood pressure. If it’s high, take steps to lower it. Our Hypertension-Friendly Plan can help.
John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.