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Hypertension- Blood Pressure



Answers to 5 elementary — yet essential — questions about high blood pressure.

Q. Why did I develop hypertension?
A. Blood pressure is impacted by so many different factors, it’s usually impossible to pinpoint to a single cause of hypertension, or even be sure which combination of factors contributed to it.

According to current research, all of the following can play a role in the development of hypertension:

  • Family history of hypertension
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Increasing age
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Chronic stress
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • High cholesterol
  • A high-sodium diet
  • Too much alcohol
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Q. How can I be sure I have hypertension?

A: Hypertension is diagnosed when multiple blood pressure (BP) readings taken by a doctor or other qualified health professional show that your BP is consistently high. How high? People with hypertension have readings that fall into one of two categories — Hypertension Stage 1 or Hypertension Stage 2. 

In a clinical setting, the BP ranges below are used to diagnose hypertension:

These numbers take into consideration that most people’s BP is higher than normal at a doctor’s office or clinic. This is because stress temporarily raises BP — and you’re bound to be more stressed at the doctor’s office than you would be relaxing at home. 

Here are the BP ranges for hypertension, when adjusted for at-home monitoring:

Even if your at-home BP readings drop below the hypertensive range, it’s important to stay consistent with your current treatment plan until your next healthcare visit.What’s the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure?
Systolic pressure (the first number in a blood pressure measurement) reflects the pressure on artery walls when your heart beats. Diastolic pressure (the second number) reflects the pressure on the artery walls between beats.

What does “mmHg” stand for in a blood pressure measurement?
Blood pressure is measured in “mmHg” units, which are millimeters of mercury. What does mercury have to do with it? The first accurate blood pressure gauges contained mercury, and the measurement stuck.

How is hypertension treated, and what happens if I don’t follow a treatment plan?
The treatment for hypertension typically includes a combination of the following as recommended by your doctor:

  • Tracking blood pressure at home
  • Reducing sodium intake
  • Eating a nutrient-rich diet
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking medication to lower your blood pressure

Failure to follow through on treatment can result in increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, kidney disease, heart failure, kidney failure, and stroke.

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What’s Fantastic About Fiber



This indigestible carbohydrate does wonders for health and weight loss.

As a nutrient, fiber is unique because our bodies can’t digest it. But the common adage that fiber “passes right through you” doesn’t do this health-crusader justice. Fiber boosts your health in all of the following ways:

  1. Fiber helps protect your heart. Fiber lowers the amount of artery-clogging “bad” cholesterol in your blood and may reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Increasing your fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.
  2. Fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Insoluble fiber — which we’ll discuss later in this lesson — binds with glucose in the digestive tract, slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
  3. Fiber helps protect against cancer. Eating more fiber-rich foods may help prevent certain types of cancer.
  4. Fiber helps control hunger and weight. A high-fiber food usually contains fewer calories than the same volume of a low-fiber food yet takes longer to eat and leaves you feeling fuller. People who eat a generous amount of fiber every day are less likely to be overweight.
  5. Fiber helps improve bowel health. Fiber prevents constipation by boosting the weight and size of stools and making them softer, which moves things along. A high-fiber diet may also reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids and colon problems like diverticular disease.

On average, you’re probably not getting enough fiber. The daily recommended intake for fiber is 28g per day for women and 36g per day for men. On average, Americans only get about 16g. It’s time to fix that! This week, we’ll talk about getting more fiber from nutritious foods.


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High-Fiber Foods



Find out which veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds have the most fiber.

The best way to get more fiber is by increasing your intake of naturally high-fiber whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains (which we’ll discuss more on the next page) all contain fiber as well as many other essential vitamins and minerals.

Eating a mix of these foods will provide you with two types of fiber:

  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance in your stomach and intestines. This gel can bind with substances like glucose and cholesterol, carrying them out of your body. A high-fiber meal can reduce a blood glucose “spike” after a meal.
  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber does not dissolve in water. It adds weight and bulk to food, which helps it move through the digestive tract.

For maximum fiber and nutrients, aim to eat your fruits and vegetables instead of juicing/drinking them, and don’t skip the edible skin or peel — there’s loads of fiber in there!

With nuts and seeds, you’ll yield much more fiber if you snack on them in their whole form versus eating them as spreads (which are also likely to contain excess sugar and salt). Check out some especially fiber-rich options below.

  • Pile on the high-fiber veggies.

All vegetables contain fiber, but the ones below are especially high in this super-nutrient. Which could you eat more often?

  • Acorn squash: 9g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Brussels sprouts: 6g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Broccoli: 5g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Cauliflower: 5g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Collard greens: 5g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Cabbage, red: 4g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Spinach: 4g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Swiss chard: 4g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Kale: 3g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Zucchini squash: 3g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Get sweet on high-fiber fruit.

For a great hit of fiber, snack on the fruits below, and put them on your toast or add them to your oatmeal, yogurt, salads, or whole-grain cereal.

  • Avocado: 9g fiber in 1/2 a medium-sized fruit
  • Raspberries: 8g fiber in 1 cup
  • Blackberries: 8g fiber in 1 cup
  • Pear: 6g fiber in 1 medium-sized fruit
  • Apple: 4g fiber in 1 medium-sized fruit
  • Orange: 4g fiber in 1 medium-sized fruit
  • Blueberries: 4g fiber in 1 cup
  • Strawberries: 3g fiber in 1 cup
  • Banana: 3g fiber in 1 medium-sized fruit
  • Enjoy hearty high-fiber beans & legumes.

Chock full of fiber, beans and legumes are excellent in soups and salads or as a satisfying side dish. Choose lower-sodium options and rinse and drain before using.

  • Navy beans: 19g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • White beans: 19g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Lentils: 16g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Kidney beans: 16g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Black beans: 15g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Pinto beans: 15g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Green peas: 14g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Garbanzo beans: 12g fiber in 1 cup, cooked
  • Crunch some high-fiber, unsalted nuts & seeds.

Seeds (especially flaxseed) and chopped nuts can be sprinkled on just about anything to add fiber or have a handful as a snack

  • Flaxseed: 8g fiber in 1 ounce
  • Sunflower seeds: 6g fiber in 1/2 cup
  • Almonds: 4g fiber in 1 ounce
  • Sesame seeds: 4g fiber in 1/4 cup
  • Pumpkin seeds: 3g fiber in 1/4 cup
  • Pistachios: 3g fiber in 1 ounce
  • Walnuts: 2g fiber in 1 ounce

Peanuts: 2g fiber in 1 ounce

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Don’t Invite Hunger



Managing hunger makes it easier to carefully choose your party foods.

During parties and holidays, we tend to consume more sugary, high-carb treats like cookies, pastries, chips, and soda. These are all high in calories, yet low in nutrients like fiber and protein that help reduce hunger.

Even though you’re consuming all of the calories your body needs (and then some), you may not feel full — which can send you back to the cookies and chips.

To prevent that cycle, fill up on foods that are high in hunger-busting nutrients: protein and fiber. Below are some ways you can be sure to do that on special occasions.

Eat at regular mealtimes. Skipping meals may seem like a good strategy for “saving up” calories but is likely to lead to more snacking on low-nutrient foods — and increased hunger and cravings. Having balanced meals at the usual times is ultimately a better strategy for eating well and eating less.

Have a fiber-rich snack beforehand (or take one with you). Before heading to a party, consider snacking on a high-fiber food, such as a piece of fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, or some vegetables with hummus dip. That way you won’t arrive hungry and end up choosing from less-than-ideal options.

Pick nutritious party foods. At any meal, keep the balanced meal blueprint in mind; Plate- ½ Vegetables, ¼ Protein & ¼ Startch. Based on what’s available, how could you fill ½ of a 9-inch plate with non-starchy vegetables and ¼ with lean protein?

You might choose things like:

  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Chicken or beef and veggie skewers
  • Deviled eggs
  • Salad
  • Melon or asparagus wrapped in prosciutto
  • Lettuce wraps filled with veggies or protein
  • Fresh (not fried) summer rolls
  • Veggies and dip

Protein and fiber will help satisfy your hunger, stabilize your mood, and provide you with steady energy — all of which can help you make thoughtful choices about what else you want to eat.

The last ¼ of a balanced plate is usually reserved for whole grains or starchy veggies, but you may choose to skip that and enjoy a small, carb-rich treat.

Check in with your hunger. If you’re full and still eating, ask yourself why. Are you eating to be polite? Are you nervous? Bored? Frustrated? You may be turning to food as a solution to a problem that eating can’t fix. Consider what might really solve the issue.

Decide what’s worth it. Often party foods are just run-of-the-mill treats and snacks that you could find any day of the week at a grocery store. If you’re already full, consider whether a treat is truly something special or if you could easily enjoy it another day.

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