If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), your doctor may have recommended some lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise, stress reduction and compliance with medication are all part of the plan. If you are already physically fit, you may be wondering how else you can improve your cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.
Diet and Blood Pressure
You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Often people think “weight loss” when they hear the word “diet”. DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) however is not about weight loss, it’s a therapy for heart health and lowering blood pressure (hypertension). Dietitians call this type of diet a “therapeutic diet”. That is, it is part of the therapy to treat the disease of high blood pressure (which may also include medication and other approaches).
And it really works! If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian who can provide you with personalized nutrition advice (called Medical Nutrition Therapy).Diet therapy for hypertension is as important as maintaining fitness and being compliant with medications and doctor's visits. Click To Tweet
One of the dietary treatment goals for high blood pressure (DASH Diet) is working on your intake of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and low fat dairy foods. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks includes the fruit you slice onto whole grain cereal, the veggies you add to a pasta dish, and the extra fruits and veggies you add to a salad. It all adds up to the 8 to 10 servings daily. You also want to consume less salt and saturated fat (avoid or limit most deli meats, bacon, sausage and other cured meats, salty snacks, added salt). When possible, look for “reduced sodium” on package labels of items such as canned beans or canned soups. By rinsing canned beans, you can further reduce sodium by about 40 percent.
Sodium in Processed Bread Products
A surprising source of salt is processed bread. While carbohydrate foods aren’t an issue, the amount of sodium in processed breads, bagels and buns provide can add up. Compare brands and read the Nutrition Fact panel to check for sodium across different brands. Choose the brands that are lower in sodium and keep your bread intake to about 4 servings a day.
Store bought baked goods are also often higher in sugar, lower in nutrition, and higher in saturated fat. Why not bake your own? This quickbread is easy to make and requires minimal skill. It’s so much more delicious than anything store-bought and is another great way to be sure you don’t waste the bananas ripening on your counter.
This Ricotta Banana Berry Bread is a delicious way to get some extra fruit and dairy into your diet!
Ricotta Banana-Berry Bread
- 4 very ripe bananas
- 1 Large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fresh washed blueberries
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan (or 3 mini loaf pans) with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper for easy release.
- Mash the bananas in a large bowl.
- Whisk the egg, vanilla and oil into the bananas.
- Add the sugar and ricotta and mix well for 1 to 2 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend dry ingredients together
- Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and fold in until just combined. Don’t overmix.
- Fold in the blueberries (the mixture will be fairly thick).
- Spoon mixture into prepared pan and place on center rack in preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).