Decrease the Risk of Hypertension With Life Choice Changes

By: Melissa Chow

Too many people believe that heredity or fate determines whether they will get high blood pressure and that there is nothing that they can do about it. But changes in your lifestyle can have a dramatic effect on your blood pressure.

According to the Lancet medical journal, hypertension or high blood pressure could affect over one billion people world wide by 2027. There's more than enough medical literature available to begin to reverse that trend, starting with changing our lifestyle habits. Here are changes you can make today to dramatically lower the chance of you getting high blood pressure and helping to lower it if you already have it:

1. Eat more soluble fiber. Studies have consistently shown that fiber, particularly soluble fiber, results in the lowering of blood pressure. Soluble fiber helps to balance the cholesterol in your body. Soluble fiber also shows signs of providing protection from Type 2 diabetes symptoms and Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Foods that are high in soluble fiber include - oats and oat brand, barley, beans and peas, soy, sweet potatoes, beets, mushrooms, bananas, and too many more to list here.

2. Reduce the amount of saturated fats that you eat. The human body needs fat to be at it's most efficient, but eating saturated fats will increase your cholesterol levels and put you at greater risk for vascular disease. Even though it probably won't be easy, you can reduce your cholesterol levels dramatically by dropping the amount of saturated fats from your diet. Them main sources of saturated fats in the American diet come from meat and milk products.

3. Replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. These types of fats help to reduce your cholesterol levels. The more saturated fats you can replace in your diet with these types of fats, the healthier you will be. Olive oil and canola oil are good sources of monounsaturated fat. Vegetable oils and fish are good sources of polyunsaturated fats.

4. Don't drink alcohol to excess. There is a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and high blood pressure. Under two drinks a day is ok but anything over that and every drink you take increases the chance that you will get hypertension.

5. Increase the potassium in your diet. Although not conclusive, new studies seem to suggest that eating a variety of foods high in potassium may offer some protection against getting high blood pressure. Reducing salt intake is always suggested as a means of lowering your blood pressure, but just as important may be keeping your body's potassium and sodium levels in harmony with each other. Foods rich in potassium include lima beans, sweet potatoes, oranges, and bananas.

6. Get your blood pressure checked periodically. This is one of the simplest things you can do, and yet many people never do it. It's always better to stop a potential problem before it can turn into something worse. Even though foods can help to control high blood pressure, some people will have such an extreme case of hypertension that they will have to take prescription medication to control it.

If you are already taking medication for your high blood pressure, never stop unless the doctor gives you the ok. When the doctor sees the results reflected in the lifestyle changes you have made, he can make the decision as to whether your prescription dosage can be reduced or even if you can go off of medication completely - but let him or her make the decision.

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