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    Lowering Blood Pressure: It's a 2-Step Process

    Making the right choices is key

    continued...

    Remember, though, that the salt shaker is usually responsible for only about 15% of the sodium in your diet. Most comes from processed and canned foods, so pass up these foods in favor of fresh ones -- usually those located around the perimeter of the grocery store.

    Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables

    Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease, research has found. The healthy antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables work to help control blood pressure. It's probably the abundance of potassium and the decreased sodium that comes with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that makes the difference.

    Not only will fruits and vegetables help your blood pressure, but, according to The American Cancer Society, five servings of them a day can help prevent cancer. Clearly, fruits and vegetables are good for you in more ways than your mother ever dreamed of!

    The Eating Plan

    So if your blood pressure is a concern, the bottom line is to select from a wide variety of foods within your eating plan, limit alcohol, and get five servings a day of fruits and vegetables -- and, of course, keep salt to a minimum.

    Here are more tips for keeping your salt intake down while following your eating plan:

    • When making choices within food groups, select fresh or frozen instead of canned foods whenever possible.
    • Use low-sodium versions of canned foods and other packaged foods such as sauce mixes.
    • Avoid canned, smoked and processed meats, like cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages.
    • Use herbs, spices, vinegars, fruits, and vegetables to add extra flavor to your food.
    • Avoid condiments high in sodium, like soy sauce, pickles and olives.
    • Select frozen entrees with less than 800 milligrams of sodium.
    • Avoid salty snacks like potato chips, nuts, and crackers.
    • Check the labels on processed cheeses, and choose lower-sodium varieties.

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