You can take control of your health and lower your blood pressure through lifestyle changes including proper diet and exercise.
Thank you to Omron Healthcare for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I’ve teamed up with Omron Healthcare to take the Going for Zero Pledge (check out the post HERE). It’s a national campaign to help raise awareness about the importance of knowing your blood pressure. Because of recent changes in the scientific guidelines for blood pressure by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, more than 103 million Americans are now classified as hypertensive. This increases their risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The good news is that getting your blood pressure under control doesn’t necessarily require medication. In many cases, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke through lifestyle changes including diet and exercise. Basically, you can take control of your health! And I can’t think of better timing for this post as May is National Stroke Awareness Month, an observance that highlights the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke.
The first step in taking control of your health is knowing your blood pressure numbers. Omron is working towards educating the public on the importance of monitoring your blood pressure at home. With greater awareness of your numbers, the incidence of one’s first encounter with hypertension will hopefully not be a life-threatening cardiac event. I’ve been monitoring my blood pressure once or twice a week with my Omron EVOLV wireless blood pressure monitor.
It’s light, portable and easy to use and lets me store my blood pressure readings in an app on my smartphone. Fortunately I’ve had normal readings but it’s something that I have to keep a close eye on as I have a strong family history of hypertension.
I mentioned lifestyle changes to help lower blood pressure. These include maintaining a healthy body weight, following a nutritious diet, increasing aerobic physical activity, quitting smoking, and keeping alcohol intake under control. When it comes to diet, the DASH Diet is widely regarded as the gold standard of eating plans for hypertension.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet is a plant-focused diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat and non-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, heart-healthy fats, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In addition to being low in sodium, the diet is high in fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The DASH diet plan was developed to lower blood pressure in research sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health. The first DASH diet research showed that it significantly lowered blood pressure in those with normal blood pressure, prehypertension and hypertension. The biggest drop in blood pressure occurred in those with hypertension- the diet worked about as well as some common blood pressure medications!
Since then, numerous studies have shown that the DASH diet not only reduces hypertension but also reduces the risk of many other diseases, including some kinds of cancer, stroke, heart disease, kidney stones, and diabetes. It’s an effective way to lose weight and become healthier at the same time.
Isn’t that amazing? Talk about using food as medicine! If I told you that you had to be on blood pressure medication for the rest of your life, you’d probably be pretty bummed. But what if I told you that by following a well-balanced eating plan, exercising, and making a few lifestyle modifications you could reduce your blood pressure and possibly avoid taking medication? Which one would you choose? I know what I would choose!
I’ll be posting more about the Omron Going For Zero Pledge in the upcoming weeks as I go through this journey and learn more about my heart health along the way. Want to get started with some DASH friendly recipes? Here are a few recipes from the blog to get you started!