Your Weight And High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure - also known as hypertension - is one of the top causes of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
Did you know that there is a strong relationship between being overweight/obese and developing hypertension, especially when you're young? That's why it's important to make every effort to get to a healthy weight.
For the past 40 years, the Centers for Disease Control has been interviewing and examining the diets of tens of thousands of Americans. This national survey is called The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The data represents a cross sample of Americans of all ages, race and ethnicities, and both genders. NHANES data was last collected between 2005 and 2006.
Researchers, looking at NHANES III data from the late 1990s, found that for people aged 25 years or older, extra weight was associated with an increase in hypertension. In fact, for both men and women, high blood pressure was the most common health condition related to being overweight or obese.
Inactivity, stress, sleep apnea, high-sodium and high-fat diets all contribute to weight gain and hypertension. Smoking and alcohol consumption also play a major role.
If you drink, the recommended daily limit is 2 drinks per day for a man and 1 drink per day for a woman. An alcoholic drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits, or 5 ounces of wine. Studies have shown that the more alcohol you consume, above 2 drinks per day, the higher the blood pressure. Three or more alcoholic drinks per day approximately doubles your risk of having hypertension. Remember, alcohol provides empty calories and can affect your self-control around food.
The Way We Eat
Do you eat a lot of fat, saturated fat, sodium, and overall calories? Is your usual intake high in animal fats like bacon, cream, whole fat dairy products, butter, and desserts? Do you eat fried and processed foods? Do you eat out often?
Excess dietary fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories can lead to overweight/obesity and hypertension. A poor quality diet can lead to caradiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain types of cancer too.
On the other hand, having a plate that is 2/3 full of plant-based foods like vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruit can help prevent hypertension. So can choosing low or non-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat. Use heart-healthy oils like olive, canola, and peanut. To prevent hypertension, stay within the Recommended Daily Allowance for sodium of 2,400 milligrams a day. To treat hypertension, decrease sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. That will mean choosing fewer processed foods like frozen entrees, boxed side dishes, canned soups, and condiments.
- Cushman WC. Alcohol consumption and hypertension. J Clin Hypertens 2001; 3:166-170.
- Must A, et al. Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity JAMA.1999; 282: 1523-1529.
- Brown CD, et al. Body Mass Index and the Prevalence of Hypertension and Dyslipidemia. Obesity Research 2000; 8:605-619.