In America, 67 million adults are quietly living with high blood pressure—that’s one in every three adults. Approximately 30 percent of American adults have pre-hypertension—a condition that puts them at great risk of developing high blood pressure.
It’s a practically invisible disease with a few subtle symptoms. And even after you’ve been diagnosed, it can seem pretty harmless and easy to ignore. But, if not properly cared for, its progressive effects can put you at risk for heart disease, stroke even kidney disease.
African Americans develop high blood pressure more often, and at an earlier age, than whites and Mexican-Americans. More African-American women have high blood pressure than African-American men and they have higher rates of hospitalization.
What causes high blood pressure? Research shows that high salt and sodium intake plus low potassium intake—due to not eating enough fruits and vegetables—and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to developing high blood pressure.
DASH to a Better Diet
For that reason, lifestyle changes such as those in the DASH eating plan have been shown to significantly help control high blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. In fact, the DASH eating plan is recognized as the diet of choice for preventing and managing high blood pressure in African Americans. The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products, and is low in fats and cholesterol.
Theoretically, DASH should be an easy fix. But according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center, DASH is easier said than done—at least for African Americans. In a recent study, Duke researchers were interested in determining what factors predicted who would adhere to the DASH eating plan. African-American participants in the study were less likely than white participants to follow the DASH eating plan.
Why? Because traditional African-American food choices and cooking methods weren’t taken into consideration. The good news is, if you can’t phantom the idea of giving up your traditional food there are still steps you can take to lower sodium in your diet.
How Salt Makes You Fat
Ditching the salt shaker is an obvious and great first step, however contrary to popular belief, the salt shaker is the least of your worries.. In fact, 77 percent of sodium in the diet comes from packaged and restaurant foods.
Salt makes you hungrier, thirstier and it increases cravings. Plus, it seems that [salt] may cause your fat cells to hold more fat. Reducing sodium is as good for your waistline as it is for your blood pressure. So get started today!
The Five Worst Foods
1. Processed meats: Any meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting or with the addition of chemical preservatives fit into this category, including ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and luncheon meats.
2. Sugar-sweetened beverages: We tend to associate excess sugar with higher blood sugar and diabetes.. However, excess sugar intake has been linked to high blood pressure levels as well.
3. Canned and pickled vegetables and vegetable juice: While a great substitute when fresh is not available, canned and pickled vegetables are typically laden with preservatives or sauces and seasonings that add extra sodium. A cup of canned cream-style corn may contain 730 milligrams of sodium.
4. Bouillon, canned and instant soup: On average, a cup of canned chicken noodle soup contains as much as 760 milligrams of sodium. Eat the entire can—which makes two-and-a-half servings—and you’ll get 1,800 milligrams of sodium.
5. Canned tomato products and tomato juice: One cup of tomato juice contains 680 milligrams of sodium. One serving of spaghetti with meat sauce has more than 1,300 milligrams of sodium.