If you have high blood pressure, you've most likely been told to eat less salt (sodium). You can use the food labels on canned, packaged, and frozen foods to help you choose foods that are low in sodium.
Food labels also tell you how much fiber is in a serving. Eating plenty of fiber has many nutritional benefits.
What to Look For
Look for sodium and fiber under "Nutrition Facts".
Sodium. This number tells you how much sodium is in one serving. Choose foods with the lowest number for sodium. Or look for foods that say Low-Sodium or Sodium-Free.
Fiber. This number tells you how much fiber is in one serving. Look for foods that have the most fiber.
Eat Less Sodium
If you have high blood pressure, your health care provider may tell you to eat 2,400 mg or less of sodium a day. This can help lower your blood pressure. Here are some tips to help you:
- Buy fresh food whenever you can, or buy plain frozen food.
- Take the salt shaker off the table and the stove. Instead, season with herbs, spices, lemon juice, or vinegar.
- Limit your use of soy sauce, steak and chili sauce, onion and garlic salt and packaged seasoning mixes.
- Before you try a salt substitute, ask your doctor if it's safe for you.
Words That Mean A Lot of Sodium
Under "Nutrition Facts", you will also find a list of ingredients. Any of the following words near the top of the list warns you that the food is high in sodium:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- Pickles or pickled
Eat More Fiber
Eating enough fiber can help lower your risk of heart disease. One kind of fiber, soluble fiber, helps lower cholesterol. Both soluble and insoluble fiber may also help you control your weight. That's because foods that are high in fiber make you feel full for longer.
Try to eat 20 to 35 grams (g) of fiber a day. Most people eat about half that much. Start by adding fiber to your diet slowly. This will help prevent gas. And be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
Reading food labels will help you find foods that are high in fiber.
Good sources include:
- Fruits and vegetables (eat at least five servings a day)
- Whole-grain breads and cereals (make them the main part of your meals)
- Legumes such as beans and lentils (try them in soups, stews and salads)
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