Why be concerned about high blood pressure? Because it increases your risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack or heart failure. Research shows that even having a high-normal blood pressure reading of 130/85 mmHg increases one's risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the next 10 years by 1.5 to 2.5 times. The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk. High blood pressure is clinically defined as anything over 140/90 mmHg; optimal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg or lower. While both numbers in the reading are important, the bottom number (diastolic pressure) is generally considered more carefully among people under the age of 50 and the top reading (systolic pressure) becomes more predictive of problems with hypertension in people over the age of 55.
A study at Johns Hopkins found that there are a number of lifestyle changes that have been shown to be effective in reducing blood pressure as well as helping to prevent it in the first place. These include the following.
• Aim for a healthy weight. If you're overweight, even small amounts of weight loss can make a big difference in helping reduce and prevent high blood pressure.
• Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. The subjects in the John Hopkins study followed the DASH diet, an eating plan that places special emphasis on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds and whole grain products. The DASH diet also is low in sodium.
• Choose foods lower in salt and sodium and higher in potassium, calcium and magnesium. Processed foods tend to be highest in sodium. Dairy foods are good sources of calcium; fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium; and whole grains, green leafy vegetables, unsalted nuts and dry beans are good sources of magnesium.
• Be physically active every day. Get involved in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, most days of the week. You can even do this in three 10-minute segments during the day.
• If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and lead to chronic high blood pressure. For overall health, the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" recommends that men limit their alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one drink per day.
• If you are a smoker, quit smoking. People who smoke are two to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who do not smoke.
Source: Colorado Cooperative Extension
Lemon Roasted Potatoes
2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
1 medium lemon, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan coated with nonstick spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes or until potatoes are golden and tender.