Among people with high blood pressure, only about half have their blood pressure under good control. Whether you have high blood pressure and hope to improve control to reduce the toll it takes on your health, or hope to delay or avoid development of high blood pressure, the good news is that changes in your eating habits can help.
Even better news: if you’re not up for a major overhaul of your diet, research has identified ways in which we can “tweak” eating habits with relatively small changes that can add up to make a difference for a healthier blood pressure and improve overall health at the same time. Tweaks that cut sodium are part of this, but let’s make sure we consider the big picture of how eating habits affect blood pressure.
What’s the big deal? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure makes you four times more likely to die from a stroke, and three times more likely to die from heart disease.
In the United States, about 1 in 3 adults – or about 2 in 3 age 60 and older — has high blood pressure. Another 1 in 3 has prehypertension, above-normal blood pressure between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, not high enough to classify as hypertension, but now recognized as high enough to increase risk of heart disease and stroke. Your blood pressure can be high for years without causing any symptoms, even though it is damaging your heart, blood vessels and kidneys.
Let’s consider three places you can look for ways you might tweak your current eating habits for healthy blood pressure….