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Notes on Nutrition: Under pressure? How to lower high blood pressure
Stephanie Vande Brake
Feb. 10, 2023 6:30 am
One of the key components of heart health is blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, you are at higher risk of developing other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke. The good news is that there are some diet and lifestyle modifications you can make to help reduce your risk.
What is high blood pressure? As blood circulates, it presses against artery walls, creating pressure. Too much pressure forces the heart to work harder, potentially straining it.
A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers: systolic pressure, measured as the heart pumps, and diastolic pressure, recorded between heartbeats. A resting blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg is considered normal. Prehypertension is 120 to 139/80 to 89 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg or higher is hypertension.
Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day; it tends to increase with exercise and strong emotions. But consistently high blood pressure is affected by many factors, including genetics, some medical conditions, diet, heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, stress and limited exercise.
When it comes to diet, high intake of sodium and low intake of fruits and vegetables may increase your risk for high blood pressure. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day and eating at least 1 1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium and contain potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Also try to eat lean sources of protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish and beans. Consider whole-grain breads and pastas and look for lower-sodium versions of packaged foods.
Diet alone can’t completely cure or prevent high blood pressure, but it can help. Some factors are out of your control, such as a family history of high blood pressure or preexisting medical conditions, including diabetes and some autoimmune diseases. People over 40 should be tested annually — while those under 40 should get tested every two to five years. If you’re diagnosed with hypertension, work with a doctor to help manage it.
During the month of February, you can get a free biometric screening at select Hy-Vee locations. A Hy-Vee dietitian will collect a blood sample from a finger prick to determine cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels. Resting blood pressure, weight, body fat percentage and waist and hip circumference are also measured. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Fasting for a period of 10 to 12 hours in advance is required. Request your free screening by speaking with your Hy-Vee dietitian or visit www.hy-vee.com/health/healthy-bites/dietitian-biometric-screenings.aspx.
Try out this twist on corn chowder the whole family will love. We made some ingredient swaps from the original recipe, such as using unsalted vegetable stock and frozen corn and reducing the amount of other higher-sodium ingredients, to help keep the sodium level under control.
Stephanie Vande Brake is a dietitian at Hy-Vee.
Thai Corn Chowder
Serves 6 (1 1/2 cups each)
All you need:
1 (13.66 ounce) can unsweetened coconut cream, divided
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
1 (11-ounce) can Mexican style corn, drained; divided
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons green curry paste
2 tablespoons refrigerated lemon grass paste
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sambal oelek chili paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (32-ounce) container unsalted vegetable stock
3 1/2 cups frozen corn
Sliced scallions, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving
Cook 1/2 cup coconut cream and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat until heated. Add 1/2 can drained Mexican-style corn and red onion; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is softened.
Add curry paste, lemon grass paste, lime juice, chili paste, remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and salt; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Stir in vegetable stock.
Blend soup mixture with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Stir in frozen corn and remaining 1/2 can Mexican-style corn and coconut cream. Cook, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes or until soup is thickened, stirring occasionally.
To serve, ladle soup into serving bowls. Garnish with scallions and serve with lime wedges, if desired.
Per serving: 290 calories, 16 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 920 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 13 g sugar (0 g added sugar), 4 g protein. Daily Values: vitamin D 0%, calcium 0%, iron 6%, potassium 8%.
Source: adapted from February 2023 Hy-Vee Seasons magazine