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"What foods incresae high blood presure?"


My dad is in his 60s, and he was just diagnosed as having high blood pressure. We're working together to get him on a better diet, but we don't know where to start. What foods exacerbate high blood pressure?


Congratulations to you and your father on taking the first steps toward improving his diet. Keep the following three goals in mind: to decrease sodium intake, decrease body fat, and eat a "healthful" diet (fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, chicken, fish, nuts; less red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages). A brief explanation of the cause of high blood pressure may be helpful.

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Most commonly, high blood pressure is due to abnormalities in multiple systems: hardening of large blood vessels with aging, abnormal hormone levels, and dietary factors. High levels of sodium in the blood cause increased fluid retention in the blood vessels and increased tone or "tightness" of the blood vessels, both of which lead to higher blood pressure. The majority of patients with high blood pressure have trouble excreting sodium in the urine, which makes the problem worse. Therefore, your father should eat foods that are low in sodium; the daily limit should be 1.5 grams (1500 mg) sodium. Many packaged foods, fast-food, and restaurant menus are high in sodium, so you should be sure to read the nutrition labels and plan meals with the 1.5 gram daily limit in mind. Canned soups are notoriously high in sodium, as is tomato juice and some canned vegetables. Always opt for the "low sodium" version of these products, but still read the nutrition label because they still may contain a significant amount of sodium. Alcohol also increases blood pressure and should be limited to no more than 2 drinks a day for men, and 1 drink a day for women (one drink is defined as 12 oz. beer, 5 oz. wine, or 1.5 oz liquor). Here are a few tips for how to make these choices easier: When you are grocery shopping, stick to the periphery of the supermarket, where fruits, vegatables, and dairy products are located. Your father should eat out in restaurants 1 time per week at most; by preparing food at home, you will have better control of the sodium content (found in table salt, Kosher salt, and sea salt). Try using citrus juice, vinegar, and herbs instead of salt. Supermarkets sell a salt-substitute product that contains potassium instead of sodium; however, you should not use this product until your father has seen a physician who checks blood tests (specifically, kidney function and potassium levels). A regular exercise schedule will also help to lower his blood pressure; your father should speak with a physician in person and have a physical exam prior to starting an exercise program to ensure that it is safe for him.

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