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May 29

Know Your Numbers

High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. One in three Americans has high blood pressure, and only half of them have it under control. You have the power to lower your blood pressure and live a healthy, full life. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, raises your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and damage to your eyes. Knowing your numbers can help you live a longer, healthier life. Blood pressure is typical given in two numbers upper /lower. 

Systolic (upper):  This is the amount of pressure it takes for the heart to squeeze blood to the body. Diastolic (lower): This is the amount of pressure when the heart is relaxed and filling with blood. Normal blood pressure is lower than 120 and less than 80. Pre-hypertension is between 120-139 and 80-89. High blood pressure is 140 or higher and 90 or higher.

Eating less salt can help lower your blood pressure. Salt is also called sodium on food labels. Try to eat no more than 1500mg of sodium a day. One teaspoon of salt is equal to 2300mg of sodium. Don’t add salt to food while cooking or eating. Pay attention to food labels and check the serving size, the number of servings per container, and how many mg of sodium are in a single serving.
Compare food labels to help reduce your sodium intake.

Foods to avoid:

  • Fast food like pizza, tacos, burritos, cheeseburgers, fries, and fried chicken
  • Ham, bacon, corned beef, hot dogs, sausage, salt pork, packaged meats, and cheese
  • Salty foods in cans and jars like pickles, sauces, dips, salad dressings, soups, and broths
  • Packaged foods like salty snacks and chips, mixes for sauces, rice and noodle meals
  • Frozen meals and foods that contain soy sauce or are marinated, smoked, or cooked in broth

Healthy steps you can take:

  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables (make half your plate fruits and vegetables).
  • Cook with fresh herbs and spices or use vinegars and lemon juice for flavor.
  • Rinse canned foods like vegetables, beans, and tuna with water to remove salty liquid.
  • For salads, choose oil and vinegar. When eating out, ask for dressing on the side.
  • When shopping, choose reduced sodium, low sodium, light sodium, or sodium free foods.

For additional tips to lower your salt, see 10 tips.