What foods will lower my blood pressure without raising my A1C?
I loved this question because eating a healthy diet and including/excluding various foods can certainly help both blood pressure and diabetes. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately one-third of the adult population (an estimated 76 million Americans), and 73% of those with diabetes (almost 20 million), have high blood pressure. It affects so many of us. Many times physicians will immediately put people on blood pressure medication but studies have shown that implementing lifestyle changes will have the most positive effect on blood pressure. I would recommend having someone meet with a registered dietitian to help you follow a diet that will naturally lower blood pressure and help control blood sugar levels.
The gold standard recommendation for lowering blood pressure is the DASH diet. It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This lifestyle modification focuses on increasing whole foods and low-fat dairy while reducing intake of total and saturated fat (red meat, butter, whole milk, fried foods). The DASH diet is very high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and legumes, nuts and low fat dairy. I would recommend that you review what you typically eat and drink during the day. Try to count how many servings of fruits and veggies that you consume and if you are not consuming at least five servings, try your best to increase your intake. Add additional vegetables stir fry meals and pack fruits and veggies as snacks throughout the day. Next slowly start to substitute lean poultry like boneless skinless chicken breasts in place of red meat (steak, roast beef, ham) and make as many starch servings “whole grain”. This step is very important for you in regards to diabetes. You will achieve better blood sugar (and blood pressure) control and help to lower your A1C by making sure that your grains are high in fiber. Select whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, faro, brown rice etc. instead of white bread/rice and enriched pasta.
The DASH diet is one that is naturally low in sodium. Another important way to help reduce blood pressure is by reducing overall salt (sodium) intake. Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and reduces the ability of your kidneys to remove excess water in your body. A low sodium diet is absolutely essential to reducing blood pressure. You should try to limit your sodium intake to 1,500mg and 2,400mg each day. The first step in following this diet is to remove the salt shaker from the table. Now go through your refrigerator and pantry. Look at the amount of sodium on the foods’ labels. In general, foods with more than 300 mg of sodium may not fit into your meal plan. Try to stay away from purchasing boxed or canned soups, seasoned rice, high sodium condiments and sauces.
Bottom line? Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less red meat and fat. And definitely start to read labels and try to choose products low in sodium!