Controlling Your Blood Pressure! — Low Sodium Choices

Now that I’m in my 50’s, the hereditary blood pressure has kicked in.  I used to have low BP as a rule, so this took me by surprise!  It shouldn’t, since my parents both have high BP (or hypertension).

After a hospital visit and follow-up doctor visits, I was placed on a minimal dose of medicine to control my blood pressure.  After the scare of wondering if I was having a heart attack, I gladly do what I can to make sure I don’t have one! I want to stick around and watch my family grow!

The medicine is doing its job, but I need to be responsible and do mine! Watching the sodium/salt in what I eat and drink is important and easy!  At first it seems hard to find low sodium foods, because there is so much salt added to prepared food products and restaurant menu items.

FIRST———————

  • I researched!  Be informed about what you are eating and drinking.
  • Read Labels!  If sodium content is listed as 5-10% or lower, then it’s probably okay if you realize that 10 items of 10% sodium is considered the total intake for the day.   If you already have high BP, your goal should probably be less than that.  If something has 30-40% sodium, walk away!
  • Easy online searches reveal sodium content in all kinds of foods, including soft drinks, condiments, canned foods, soups, and most packaged mixes.   I found these 2 sites helpful.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.lowsaltfoods.com                                                                 http://www.nutritiondata.self.com
  • Check out the restaurants you visit.  Most now have menus online that show nutrition content, and some have items identified as “healthier” or “heart friendly”.
  • Medical lab work showed that I had low potassium, even though I was already eating a pretty good diet, with fresh fruits and vegetables. But changes as you age affect those levels as well.  So it was recommended to add a banana every day.  Potassium levels apparently have an effect on how your body processes the sodium, so this is one of several things that can help regulate your BP!
  • I learned more about foods that provide protein, potassium, and other essential nutrients to maximize good food without increasing how much I eat.
  • Controlling my weight and increasing exercise also need to be higher on my priority list.

NEXT —————————

  • I acted on what I learned!  I could not ignore what I needed to do – mostly simple steps.
  • I started depending less on prepared, canned, boxed and frozen foods. I simply started using more fresh options, and NOT adding extra salt!  Other spices can add lots of flavor.
  • I read labels on everything I pick up in the store!  It has become an easy habit, and very eye-opening.  Many grocery stores have been adding more items that are labeled “lower sodium” or “no salt added”.  You still need to check the percentage of sodium.
  • My doctor’s advice as I walked out the door was:  Eat a banana every day, and don’t touch the soft drinks!  I also drink more water, like we all should.

So far, so good!  So………in summary, what has worked for me:

  1. Read labels.
  2. Cut out soft drinks.
  3. Don’t touch the salt shaker.
  4. Eat that banana, alone or with cereal.
  5. Check restaurant nutrition.
  6. Drink water and increase movement.
  7. See the doctor regularly to monitor any changes.

Disclaimer:  Remember!  I am not an expert, and definitely not a doctor. These are suggestions that have worked for me.  Hypertension/High Blood Pressure is not something to mess around with.  Please see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment that is best for you.  Check your blood pressure regularly, and see a doctor for regular checkups, especially if you are in your 40’s and 50’s.  Lots of changes occur and sneak up on you, even if you lead a healthy lifestyle!

 

Next time, I will share some ways to add flavor to foods without the salt! Check out my previously posted recipes, since most of them are already light on the salt!

 

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