May is High Blood Pressure Education Month! This month, we want to raise awareness about blood pressure. High blood pressure is a dangerous health problem that can affect nearly everyone. It’s important to regularly get your blood pressure checked – millions of Americans have high blood pressure but don’t even know it.
Evidence has linked excess sodium to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease. Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, cutting back on excess salt can be beneficial. Blood pressure naturally increases as people get older, but cutting back on sodium can limit or delay that process. By one estimate, 90 percent of all American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure in their lifetime.
So, how can you prevent high blood pressure? One way is to reduce how much sodium you are eating with a heart-healthy eating pattern. One example is the DASH diet, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
Did you know that you can eat less sodium with the DASH diet because it includes more fruits and vegetables into your diet? Find out more about changing the way you eat to lower blood pressure.
Fruits and vegetables are stars in the DASH diet. The 2,000-calorie/day version of DASH calls for 4-5 servings each of fruits and veggies per day. That might sound like a lot, but it’s really not too daunting. An example of a serving is one medium piece of fruit (about the size of a baseball) or ½ cup cut-up raw or cooked veggies or 1 cup of leafy greens. Next time you’re serving up fruits or veggies, measure out ½ cup. I bet it won’t be as much as you think!
Some of our favorite ways to add fruit and vegetable servings are:
- Breakfast: Add sliced bananas or berries to oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. Add chopped onions and bell peppers to scrambled eggs.
- Lunch: Add tomato and avocado slices to a sandwich. Serve with sparkling or tap water.
- Snacks: Dip sliced apples or peaches into fat-free or low-fat yogurt. Scoop up hummus with fresh green beans or jicama slices.
- Dinner: Make chunky marinara sauce by adding sautéed Portobello mushrooms and broccoli florets to low-sodium marinara sauce. Add sliced grapes or berries to a green vegetable salad.
Want to make a difference today? Tell your friends about how sodium can be sneaky!
What are your tips for getting more fruits and vegetables into your day?