Approximately 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure in the U.S. and about 7 out of 10 people who have a heart attack also has high blood pressure.
The cause is usually bad eating and poor exercise habits, coupled with high stress. And to help Americans avoid heart disease and other health problems, the U.S. Government releases updates to its dietary guidelines every five years.
Guidelines were updated recently with many of the new suggestions, such as lowering sodium intake, aimed at improving your heart’s health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
Here are three of the suggestions they made that will help improve your blood pressure and heart’s health:
Heart Healthy Changes to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines
1. Tighten the Reins on Your Sweet Tooth
In the latest dietary guidelines, the government advises added sugar in your diet only make up 10 percent of your caloric intake per day. More than 70 percent of Americans are exceeding the amount of recommended sugar.
Studies show the more sugar we consume, the higher the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Those who got 17 percent to 21 percent of their calories from added sugar were 38 percent more likely to die from heart disease than those who only got 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar.
Additionally, sugary foods tend to have more calories. If too many calories are consumed each day, it can lead to obesity, which also raises risk for heart disease.
Eating a well-rounded diet will provide you with enough sugar to push you through the day. An effective way to reduce the amount of sugar you’re consuming is to replace sugary drinks and candy with water or a flavored spritzer.
2. Step Away From the Salt
The government found that Americans are consuming far more sodium than they should. On average, 3,440 milligrams of sodium are being consumed each day, well above the recommended amount of 2,300 milligrams.
High levels of sodium each day can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can then lead to heart disease and heart attacks since the heart is strained and forced to exert more effort to pump blood through the body.
Sodium, like sugar, can be found in high calorie foods and in frozen and pre-made meals and mixes (even if they claim to be healthy). To be sure to avoid that mistake, try to cook more homemade meals so you can have more control over what goes in the food you’re eating.
3. Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains do your heart good. Whole grains are different than refined grains in that they contain the entire grain, like oatmeal, corn, quinoa, and popcorn.
They also have much more fiber than refined grains and also have less saturated fat and sugars.
Whole grains contain plenty of iron to help carry oxygen to the blood, helping everything flow smoothly. Whole grains are also rich in fiber, which helps nearly system in your body. Eating enough whole grains helps lower cholesterol as well. Lower cholesterol means less risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
A good, well-balanced diet is extremely important to overall health. Proper amounts of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and oils can truly help your body function to its best capacity.
If for some reason you can’t get all of those food groups in a day, consider taking multivitamins and taking L-Arginine to keep your blood pressure down and energy up.