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Eat Right to Help Lower Your High Blood Pressure

What is high blood pressure?

It means that my heart has to pump harder than it should to get blood to all the parts of my body. This raises my chances for a stroke, and heart and kidney problems.

Does that mean you could have a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure?

Yes. But if you lower your pressure, you will lower your chances. You should ask about your blood pressure too.

You Can Lower Your Blood Pressure

If it is high, can you really lower it?

Yes, by following these instructions:

* lose weight, since I weigh too much.
* be more active.
* eat fewer foods high in salt and sodium.
* cut back on alcohol.

The doctor told me what foods to eat and gave me a booklet. This will remind me what to do - to eat some foods more often and others less often.

Lose Weight

First I need to lose weight. Here is what I need to do:

* eat less fat and calories. This is a good first step.
* cut back on foods high in sugar like soda and candy.
* eat smaller amounts of foods at meals.
* eat fewer snacks during the day.

My blood pressure will probably go down when I lose weight.

Foods High in Fat

Fats and oils (like butter, margarine, vegetable oils, lard, fat back, salt pork, meat drippings, gravy)

Fatty meats (like hot dogs, bacon, bologna, salami, corned beef, regular ground beef, ribs, sausage)

Whole milk, 2% milk, cream, ice cream

Most cheeses (like cream cheese, cheddar, American)

Many snack foods (like chips and nuts)

Fried foods (like fried chicken and french fries)

Most cakes, pies, and pastries

Many cookies

Most fast foods

To Be More Active Everyday

Take a walk
Use the stairs
Get off the bus one or two stops early
Park farther away from the store
Go for a bike ride
Work in the garden
Go dancing

Fix Foods The Low-Sodium Way

I need to cut down on salt and salty foods. Eating less salt and sodium also can help my blood pressure go down.

I know about salt. But what is sodium? I see it on labels all the time.

Sodium is a part of salt. It also is a part of mixtures used to flavor and preserve foods.

How can we fix good tasting foods with less salt and sodium?

Listen to these tips:

* Try to cook from scratch. Start with foods low in salt and sodium.
* Use herbs, spices, and fruit juices to season food.
* Do not add salt to your food when cooking or at the table.
* Rinse canned foods like tuna and canned vegetables to remove salty juices.

Shake On The Herbs And Spices

basil
bay leaf
chili powder
cinnamon
cumin
curry powder
dry mustard
garlic powder, not garlic salt
onion powder, not onion salt
oregano
paprika
parsley
pepper, black and red
poultry seasoning
thyme
no-salt spice blends (try the recipe for Hot 'N Spicy Seasoning)

Some of these herbs and spices sound good. Tonight, I will bake the chicken with some lemon juice and oregano. And in the rice, I will add lots of parsley instead of salt for flavor. Adding herbs will help us to cut back on sodium. And, the food will still be tasty so we won't miss the salt.

Fixing foods this way seems easy enough. I bet we can have some pretty good meals.

This recipe for Hot 'N Spicy Seasoning also sounds good. Maybe I will try it next week.

Hot 'N' Spicy Seasoning

1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix all of the above in a bowl.

Store in airtight container.

Tastes good on meat, poultry, or fish. Instead of salt, sprinkle some on the food and then cook it as you usually do. Or, mix some with plain bread crumbs and then coat the meat with the crumbs. If you like it very spicy, use more.

We could start packing our lunches and snacks for work. It is cheaper than buying lunch and this way we get what is good for us. A lot of food you eat out is high in fat, calories, and sodium.

Snack On...

Bagels, raisin toast, or English muffins with jelly and a little margarine
Air-popped popcorn with no salt or butter
unsalted pretzels and crackers
Low-fat cookies (animal crackers, fig bars, gingersnaps)
Fruits, vegetables
Fruit juices and drinks
Nonfat frozen yogurt, sherbet, popsicles
Hard candy, jelly beans

Instead Of...

Salted popcorn with butter
Salted pretzels and crackers
Salted chips
French fries
Pork rinds

What about breakfast? I know sausage, bacon, and biscuits are high in sodium and fat.

We can have some cereals, toast, and fruits for breakfast. They are quick to fix and easy to clean up. We could even have leftovers from dinner for breakfast.

Menu Ideas

Breakfast

Shredded wheat with banana
Skim or 1% milk
Toast with a little margarine
Coffee with skim or 1% milk

Lunch

Lean roast beef sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato (easy on the mayonnaise)
Fig bar cookies
Apple
Skim or 1% milk

Snack

Orange

Dinner

Spaghetti with turkey meat sauce
Steamed green beans with oregano
Green salad with cucumber, tomato, carrots, and a small amount of oil and vinegar dressing
Skim or 1% milk
Nonfat frozen yogurt

Snack

English muffin with jelly and a little margarine

Recipe

Spaghetti with Turkey Meat Sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 can (28 ounce) tomatoes, cut up
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound spaghetti

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add turkey; cook for 5 minutes, stir a few times. Drain fat.

Stir in tomatoes with their juice, green pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, and pepper. Boil; turn down heat. Put lid on pan and let cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Stir a few times.

Take off cover; cook on low heat for 15 minutes more.

In another pot, cook spaghetti in boiling water for 15 minutes. Do not add salt. Drain well. Serve sauce over spaghetti.

Buy Foods Low in Sodium

Most of the foods in these meals are easy to find in the store. But, we will need to change some of the foods we buy.

How do you know if foods are high in sodium?

Sometimes you can taste it. And sometimes you cannot. Your food will have more sodium if you add salt to it. Also, foods that you buy already made can be higher in sodium, like some TV dinners.

I know foods like lunch meats and cheese are salty because I get thirsty after I eat them. They are also high in fat.

When I shop, I always try to buy the food that has the least amount of sodium. I look on the label for the words sodium or salt. The food may be high in sodium if these words are listed first or a couple of times.

Ingredients: wheat flour, salt, sodium sulfate, malt

Also, the amount of sodium is listed on the label.

Nutrition Information

Serving size......................
calories..........................
fat...............................
sodium............................50 mg

Foods marked no salt added, low sodium or reduced sodium are good to buy.

Buy More Often...

Chicken and turkey (take off skin)
Fish
Lean cuts of meat
Skim or 1% milk, evaporated skim milk
Cheeses lower in fat and sodium (like low-fat cheddar, part- skim mozzarella)
Low-fat or nonfat yogurt
Margarine, vegetable oils, vinegar
Fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
Fresh, frozen, or no salt added canned vegetables
Plain rice and pasta
English muffins, bagels, loaf breads, tortillas, pita
Cold (ready-to-eat) cereal and cereals cooked on the stove
Spices and herbs

Buy less often...

Fatty cuts of meat
Smoked foods
Lunch meats, bacon, and sausage
Buttermilk
Most cheese spreads and cheeses
Most salad dressings
Fat back, salt pork
Toppings and sauces (like ketchup, mustard, butter, gravy, and barbecue, soy, and cheese sauces)
Regular canned soups, instant soups
Regular canned vegetables
Instant hot cereals
Pickles and olives
Salty crackers and salty snack foods
Garlic salt, celery salt, and onion salts

Cut Back On Alcohol The most I can have is 1 or sometimes 2 drinks a day. A small glass of wine, one can of beer, or a shot of liquor counts as one drink. I really do not mind. Lowering my blood pressure is more important than having a beer.

You May Need Medicine

What if your blood pressure does not go down?

The doctor said I will have to take medicine everyday to help lower my pressure. The medicine will work better if I lose weight, eat right, and be more active.

I heard that the medicine can make you feel sleepy.

If the medicine bothers me, the doctor can either change it or change the amount.

Will the medicine cost a lot?

There are many kinds. I can ask the doctor to give me one that works for me and costs the least.

Speak Up and Ask

When the doctor gives any medicine for high blood pressure, ask about:

* when to take it.
* what to eat or drink with it.
* what other medicine is OK to take at the same time.

Expect Your Blood Pressure To Be Lower

It seems like you have a really big role in lowering your blood pressure. You can eat foods lower in sodium, lose weight, be more active, cut back on alcohol, and take your medicine.

And my doctor can help me too. I will have my blood pressure checked again in a few weeks to see how I am doing. I may have to make more changes if it is not low enough. I think I am well on my way to lowering my blood pressure.

Get More Help

Ask your doctor, dietitian, or nurse for more help in choosing foods and fixing meals.

You can also get more information from:

National High Blood Pressure Education Program
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105

Foods To Choose When You Shop

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits (like oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, berries, prunes, peaches, melon, fruit cocktail)

Fresh, frozen or no salt added canned vegetables (like green beans, carrots, greens, zucchini, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, squash)

Fresh, frozen or canned fruit juices

Breads, Cereals, Pasta, Rice, Dry Peas and Beans

Sliced breads (like wheat, rye, or white)

Sandwich buns, dinner rolls, pita breads, English muffins, bagels

Taco shells, plain tortillas

Unsalted low-fat crackers (like graham crackers)

Cooked hot cereals (not instant)

Rice

Pasta (like plain noodles, spaghetti, macaroni)

Dry peas and beans (like split peas, black-eyed peas, chick peas, kidney beans, navy beans, lentils, soybeans)

Herbs and Spices

Foods To Choose When You Shop

Print this list and take it along when you shop. Choose these foods more often.

Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Shellfish

Chicken or turkey

Fish

Lean cuts of meat

Beef: round, sirloin, chuck arm, loin
Pork: leg, shoulder, tenderloin

Lean ham and extra lean ground beef

Dairy Products

Skim or 1% milk

Low-fat or nonfat yogurt

Cheeses lower in fat and sodium

Fats and Oils (Use only small amounts)

Margarine (liquid, tub, stick, or diet)

Oils (like canola, corn, safflower, olive, peanut, or sesame oil)

Sweets and Snacks

(Don't choose these too often, if you are watching your weight. Some may be high in calories)

Popsicles, frozen yogurt, sherbet

Angel food cake

Fig bar cookies, gingersnaps, animal crackers, vanilla wafers, jelly beans, hard candy

Information provided by the NIH.