Skip Navigation

Keeping Blood Pressure Under Control

November 2020

Karen Ensle EdD, RDN, FAND, CFCS
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

The Surgeon General issued a call to action on hypertension on October 7, 2020, that recommended making hypertension control a national priority for public health, and optimizing patient care and building communities that help people control high blood pressure. The report is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said although 108 million American adults have hypertension, only 1 in 4 have it controlled. The full story is in Cardiology Today (10/7).

Here are some tips:

  • Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that includes: a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils rather than butter.
  • Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
  • Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. Limit intake of processed food.  To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further. If you can’t meet these goals right now, even reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day can benefit blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and no more than two drinks per day if you’re a man.
  • When you eat out,  watch your portion sizes.
  • A diet recommended to lower blood pressure is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. Most healthy eating patterns can be adapted based on calorie requirements and personal and cultural food preferences.
  • If you are trying to lose weight, don’t eat more calories than you know you can burn up every day.
  • Increase the amount and intensity of your weekly physical activity to burn more calories. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (or an equal combination of both) each week.
  • Try building short bursts of activity into your daily routine, like parking farther away and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Ideally, all lifestyle activity should be spread throughout the week.  Take these small steps to keep your blood pressure in check and your lifestyle and health positive.