Top 10 Ways to Control Your Blood Pressure
Simple lifestyle changes make a difference.
By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
1. Lose weight. Get your BMI (body mass index, a measurement of weight in relation to height) into the range of 18.5-24.9, and you will be doing your heart and blood pressure a favor. Think of it this way: Extra weight you carry around is like bricks in a backpack, putting pressure on every part of your body.
2. Eat plenty of whole grains. Have seven to eight servings per day of grains and grain products (these can include breakfast cereal, whole grain bread, rice, pasta, etc.)
3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Having at least eight to 10 servings of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables will ensure you get all the healthy antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need.
4. Dairy up. Consuming two to three servings daily of low-fat or nonfat diary foods will also help build strong bones and teeth, and enhance weight loss.
5. Limit meat, fish, and poultry to two servings a day. Move the meat off the center of your plate, and enjoy more grains and produce. When you do have meats, fish, and poultry, always chose lean varieties.
6. Go nuts. Incorporate four to five servings a week of nuts, seeds, and legumes into your diet. They provide plenty of protein and healthful fats.
7. Limit fats and oil to two to three servings per day. Fats are the most concentrated source of calories. Limiting them will help you control your weight.
8. Hold the salt. Limit your sodium intake to approximately 2,400 milligrams a day (a moderate level). This means eating fewer canned and processed foods, and more fresh foods.
9. Get off the couch. Exercising at least 30 minutes per day can significantly reduce blood pressure. Any form of physical activity, done most days of the week, will do the trick.
10. Drink in moderation. If you do it at all limit yourself to two drinks per day.
Originally published Feb. 9, 2004
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