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high blood pressure... what to eat?

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Old 08-19-2008, 09:17 PM   #1
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Default high blood pressure... what to eat?

well... i've been in trouble for it before, but my dr finally gave me an ultimatum - i have to lose 20 pounds between now and mid december, while eating in a way that will help lower my BP... or at 27, i may face BP meds (not an option!!!!)

when i've lost weight in the past, it's either been on WW (which concentrates on cal, fat and fiber) or on how my body feels (hunger scale) and i never paid any attention to the amount of sodium i consume. apparently, that was pretty dumb.

so i started paying attention to the amount of sodium that's in everything... and it's rediculous!! no wonder i have issues, lol. i have no idea what to eat, short of eating all fresh fruits and veggies, which is REAL expensive. can someone push me in the right direction, please?
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:37 PM   #2
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Hey! I am not a doctor, and of course you should limit your sodium intake if you have high bp now--but mild to moderate cardio exercise while losing weight is the best way to reduce blood pressure. Walking, biking, swimming...

I don't know of any specific dietary approaches other than watching salt. WW should be fine, as long as you limit your sodium. But don't go too low--restricting salt too much can be dangerous as well.

Good luck!

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Old 08-19-2008, 10:06 PM   #3
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Sodium doesn't affect everyone with high blood pressure, and for some whom it does, the effects can be lessened tremendously by just the simple act of drinking extra water.

I tend towards low blood sodium levels - part of it is that I was raised in a household that didn't use salt on the table, and always cut the salt in recipes by half - as a matter of course. I also don't eat a terrible amount of prepackaged foods, but my doctor says that still doesn't account for my low blood sodium levels - my body just doesn't hang on to sodium, usually (just another way I'm a freak, apparently). However, I retain water something fierce when I eat more sodium than I'm used to (that can raise blood pressure on it's own - so I drink tons of water when this happens).

That doesn't really necessarily apply to you, and I think as a principle avoiding high amounts of sodium is good. The problem is that it's not always clear how much is too much. You can make a lot of progress just in cutting back on what you're eating now. Cutting out and reducing the obvious sources of sodium in your diet. (Be aware of sodium-free salt substitutes, especially if you get on meds, ask your doctor about them, but I'm talking more about beware the taste. Some people don't taste the difference, but for those that do, the potassium chloride has a very unpleasant, metallic taste).

The DASH diet (google, tons of information) is the diet my doctor initially recommended for blood pressure control. But a lot of the principles are similar (I think) to the South Beach diet, which my current doctor is a good recommendation for both weight loss and blood pressure (though he personally advises many patients to skip Phase 1 - he's very leary of "too low" low carb diets).

Weight loss or exercise alone, often helps reduce blood pressure, so if you can start doing one or the other, or both... you've got a head start.

But as for food, you can start just by looking at things you normally buy, and see if there is a lower sodium version. Maybe the "savings" won't seem like much, and for one serving of one product, it may not be, but the effects will be cumulative.

For example, whenever I can find a low sodium canned veggies, I buy them, but I try to buy fresh or frozen with no added salt when I can. Although, I sometimes buy canned veggies (usually green beans are the only I do this with, because I don't eat many canned veggies), and before cooking I soak for a while in a large bowl of clear water. Even just rinsing, removes a lot of the salt, but I soak for 20 minutes or so, because it removes even more of the salt. I think they taste way too salty otherwise.

Another reason to cut back gradually, is because the impact on your tastebuds is a lot less. When you suddenly stop using salt, food can taste bland (hubby had this problem, he had to add salt to everything I cooked, because he was used to so much more salt than I used). If you cut back slowly, especially if you add in other seasonings, you don't even notice that you're losing your salt-tooth.

I found this out recently, as I eat healthier and healthier, I have less and less a taste for salt (and it was pretty low to begin with - I HATED all but a couple brands of potato chip). But... when hubby cooked for me, it was always too salty for me, but it was edible. In the last few weeks, I can't eat ANYTHING he cooks, because it's almost inedible to me. He says he isn't doing anything differently, and I believe him, especially since he's saying my cooking is getting blander and blander too him (and yet "too spicy," with other spices, not just hot ones).

Hope something in my rambling is helpful to you.
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:59 AM   #4
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One of the BEST ways to instantly lower BP is walking...a good brisk 30 min. walk. I also think that my cutting out ALL sodas helped...you don't realize how much sodium is in them. I stopped adding any add. sodium. I even ask for light sodium in rest; as they always add way to much..such as on grilled chicken and steak.

BP is nothing to play around with...I have a family member who works in the healthcare field...and she said that people always think that kidney failure is mostly due to being diabetic..but a good majority of people on dialysis had uncontrolled high BP.
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Old 08-20-2008, 01:27 AM   #5
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My doctor recently took my blood pressure and she said it was really good. She told me a lot of people would like to have that number or something like that. In a way it made me feel as if she meant because of my weight it was unusual. =/ So is sodium one major culprit of high blood pressure?
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:01 AM   #6
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my mother had the same problem....
she lost a lot of weight just by cutting out unhealthy and salty options....
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:41 AM   #7
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Whatever you do eat...DON'T eat licorice (the black kind). It can raise your blood pressure...in fact, they suggest you don't eat it while pregnant especially if you are prone to get PIH.

Me, while my BP looks fantastic now (usually around 118/68) it is extremely high for me and has been ever since my seizure medication made me fat. Back when I was healthy and running 5 miles most days my BP was 70/50 and that is while stressed, visiting the doctor. That is abnormal and generally considered inching close to death and scares nurses. I'm hoping though that getting in shape will get me closer to what was my normal abnormality. The fact that I had PIH and got to about 180/110 when pregnant...extra scary.

As for good salt free things to eat. What do/don't you like? I'm trying not to use salt on pretty much anything right now unless I just can't stand it. I broiled some chicken that was fantastic IMHO. I just sprayed the broiler pan with some pam, sprayed the chicken (you have to use something or it will totally dry out) and sprinkled yellow curry powder and some ginger on it...did the other side and called it good. Fantastic if you like mild curry...add more ginger and it isn't so mild. I have always been more excited with the stronger curries like green or panang, but with broiled chicken I loved it. For salmon I used lemon and garlic on it...no salt, was nice. I've been using lots of lemon juice and ginger. They both have strong flavours and I think if you find flavours you like and keep them fairly strong...you don't miss the salt. I used to use tons of salt...seriously. I'd season food so that the family would like it and then add quite a bit more to my food. I haven't missed it really. For chicken we just go to Costco and get a bag of frozen breasts. I'd like to be able to get the organic, and I might just end up going ahead and doing it for my kids at least (arsenic content...you don't wanna know) but it is so much more expensive. Anyway, a chicken breast is about 6 ounces of chicken when you get it that way so it is fairly easy to figure out what your portion size should be. It doesn't really end up being that expensive. If you do like spicy curry..get a nice paste, a couple cans of low fat coconut milk (don't know the sodium content, sorry) and load it up with veggies and with that, 2 chicken breasts can easily go to feed 4-6 people. Put it on some brown rice and you are good to go. We always add some fish sauce (or did before I started dieting...I do still for the boys) but it is very salty...lime or lemon juice is a good addition and you can use low sodium soy sauce.

There are always ways to make food that won't be terribly expensive but can be very healthy.

Last edited by CaffeineIV : 08-20-2008 at 02:42 AM.
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:52 AM   #8
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Continue to do what you are doing... Like looking at the back of things to see how much sodium is in it. That will help you a lot! I recommend writing the amount of sodium you eat every day. May help you to eliminate some of the higher sodium substances. I also agree that working out and drinking more water will help! Good luck!!
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:55 AM   #9
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I'm 26, and I just started blood pressure meds (Norvasc) at the beginning of the month. When I went for my physical in January, my blood pressure was 160/110 and I weighed 274. (I was going through a high-stress period, as my father had just passed away) For the next three months, I hemmed and hawed over even trying to lose weight. Sure, I was "trying", but in reality, I didn't care. Come March, after another 2 doctor's appointments, my blood pressure went down a little (145/105), but was still ridiculously high. My doctor pretty much sat me down and told me I had to do something about my weight and the high BP now, because it could kill me. And thank god for that slap in the face.

At my first appointment after I started WW, I had lost about 20 pounds, and my BP was still high. My doc and I dicussed meds (again), but I decided to hold off until I lost my magical 10% number. After all, 10% is where you see all those amazing health benefits. When I went back on August 1st, I have lost about 45 pounds, and my BP was still 135/105. So, after 6 months of major diet change and 45 pounds lost and daily cardio, it was still high. Our decision was to try me on the Norvasc for a few months, while I continue to lose more weight. The medication is not something I plan on taking forever, but I also figured that my health is too important to ignore.

My BP is now around 118/90, and it dropped to that level the day after I started taking the meds. Granted, I carry a lot more weight than you do, but I found at this point, it was something I could not control solely through diet and exercise.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:33 AM   #10
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SilentBlue, sodium does not cause high blood pressure, but it will raise blood pressure by making a person retain water. If you already have high blood pressure, it's important to limit salt intake. But it can't be omitted entirely because we need salt to stay alive.

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Old 08-20-2008, 09:45 AM   #11
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Dr. Ozz was on Oprah yesterday talking about blood pressure and he said that foods high in potassium help. Like bananas and potatoes...I think one of the other posts suggested calling the Dr. and asking which foods might make a difference. My suggestion is to ask for a referal for a dietation. Most doctors are really not into neutrition.
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:56 PM   #12
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You mentioned that fresh fruits and vegetables were expensive. To cut down on expenses eat fresh produce in season. You should be able to get some really good produce this time of the year at a really reasonable price. Later on in the year frozen vegetables and fruit are very reasonably priced. Just make sure you're just getting the fruit or vegetable in the bag. Some frozen vegetables have a sauce or are seasoned and you don't want those. Some fruits will have sugar added and you don't want them. Go for the plain and add your own salt-free seasonings yourself. Good luck on lowing you BP.
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Old 08-20-2008, 01:06 PM   #13
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I just wanted to mention a salt substitute called AlsoSalt. It contains potassium instead of sodium, so not only do you lower the sodium, you increase the potassium at the same time. It works best with foods you can mix it into a bit--in other words, it's not so great for popcorn or something like that--but it tastes fine!

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Old 08-20-2008, 01:32 PM   #14
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Just a few quick suggestions as I have to get back to work...

1. Try using Mrs. Dash or spices to flavor your foods,

2. Make your own frozen meals. Cook a huge pot of soup or pasta and freeze in single meal servings.

3. Plenty of water!

4. Try to get as many natural clean foods as possible. Stay away from man made processed foods.
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Old 08-21-2008, 05:31 PM   #15
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I was put on BP meds earlier this year (before I re-dedicated myself to getting healthy). I really didn't eat anything specific to lower my BP but I tried to watch my sodium.

Basically I started watching my calories and exercising and due to my weight loss this year (25 lbs so far) my BP has dropped back into the normal range. I stopped taking my meds 2 weeks ago and have been taking my BP twice a day and not once has it been over the 120/80 mark.

Long story short: Your doctor is right, try to lose about 20 lbs in the next 6 months and you will most likely avoid the meds.

Also as an aside, I had heard that Hibiscus tea helps lower BP but never tried it myself.
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