I have high blood pressure and I am worried about my cholesterol levels. Do you have any advice for me?

You have come to the right place! The best way to begin to make diet changes is to first take a good look at your current diet. Do you eat out a lot? Do you eat foods that come from a bag or a box or a can? Do you salt food before trying it? Do you eat ~5 servings of fruits and veggies daily? If you answer yes to these questions (and “no” to the fruit and veggie question) I would start by making small goals for yourself. Maybe first remove the salt shaker from the table. Then grocery shop with the goal of increasing plant based food intake. You may want to get on the American Heart Association’s website and find some good heart healthy recipes or check out a cook book from the library. Research says that it takes ~20+ days but if you can slowly reduce salt intake and focus on enjoying how the food tastes, you will end up avoiding foods that are heavily seasoned because they will taste too “strong”. It is the same adage with milk. If a person generally drinks whole milk, I never tell them to switch right to skim because the flavor difference is huge. If they can switch to half whole, half 2% for a week, then just 2%, then half 2%/1% etc. slowly their taste buds will adapt.

The other great way to help reduce blood pressure is exercise. Yes. I know that it is a struggle to work out after working all day…but the benefits of exercise are huge. Maybe get in the habit of getting up a little early and working out to a tape (or running when the weather improves). Get your spouse involved or find a workout buddy to keep you motivated.

By limiting the amount of processed or packaged foods, you will not only improve your blood pressure but your cholesterol will likely improve as well. Focusing on taking in more fruits and veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats like fish, avocado, olive oil will also help lower cholesterol. Also, remember to limit simple sugars (soda, desserts, candy) and saturated fats also (butter, red meat, full fat dairy).

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