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April 2019

Foods that Help Lower Blood Pressure & the Sodium Link

Approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke, heart and kidney disease.  According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, research has shown a direct link between sodium intake and high blood pressure.  Cutting back on sodium will help reduce blood pressure and there are foods that are linked to lowering blood pressure.

Where Is the Sodium Coming From?
Salt (sodium chloride) occurs naturally in food, although most salt in food is added.  It can be added during processing, when cooking, or at the table.  While most sodium is from processed foods there may be some surprising sources. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) has identified six popular foods that can add high levels of sodium to your diet.  The “Salty-Six” foods are:

1) Breads & Rolls   4)  Cold Cuts & Cured Meats
2) Pizza   5)  Soup
3) Sandwiches   6)  Burritos & Tacos

To help identify where sodium is coming from, read the Nutrition Facts label.  Be sure to check the serving size, since the information is based on that portion.

Try to limit sodium to 1500 mg or less each day.  Your health will benefit from even a modest reductionin salt intake.  Just 1 teaspoon of salt has 2325 mg of sodium!

Foods that Help Lower Blood Pressure
These foods may help to lower blood pressure!  Try to include some in your diet daily.

  • Eat the Rainbow – include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.  They are rich in antioxidants which may decrease the risk of high blood pressure.
  • Choose Fish – the omega-3 fats in fish can work to maintain a healthy blood pressure.  Salmon, sardines, herring and trout are excellent sources of omega-3s.
  • Cultured Dairy Products – such as Greek yogurt and kefir contains potassium, calcium and magnesium.  These three minerals can help regulate blood pressure.
  • Legumes – are an excellent source of potassium which can off-set the adverse effects of sodium on blood pressure.  Navy, black, soy, pinto and lima beans are especially rich in potassium.
  • Additional Vegetables to Consider – Beets, arugula, spinach, celery, parsley and watercress may help blood vessels dilate thereby reducing blood pressure.

The Bottom Line – Cut back on salt and include the key foods noted above.  Be sure to eat whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean meats each day.  Cut back on sugar and saturated fats.

Managing stress and avoid smoking will help to minimize spikes in blood pressure.

An active lifestyle along with eating healthy aides in maintaining a healthy body weight and supports good health and blood pressure.


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