BIG Nutrition: New blood pressure guidelines impact nearly half of the American population


BIG Nutrition: New blood pressure guidelines impact nearly half of the American population

Just before the Thanksgiving Holiday, several health organizations announced new guidelines for blood pressure (BP) including the reclassification of what constitutes elevated blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is considered <120/<80 mm Hg.

Many more American may now meet the criteria as having elevated BP or high blood pressure. Nutrition modification is integral treatment for everyone identified with BPs above normal.

Impact supported by scientific evidence:

  • Adoption of a DASH diet eating pattern—intake that is high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein and low in fat, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. This pattern of eating is heavily plant-based with 9 servings of vegetables and fruits per day and includes low fat dairy, lean meat/fish, beans/peas/lentils, healthy fats, nuts, and whole grains.
  • Weight loss, if overweight.
  • Reduction of sodium intake if elevated blood pressure or hypertension are present.
  • Calcium supplementation is recommended if individuals do not meet
  • Consumption of enough potassium through vegetables and fruits is important.
  • Inclusion of regular physical activity (3-4 times per week) as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Reduction in alcohol intake (up to 1 drink/day women and 2 drinks/day for men…sorry, they cannot be saved for consumption throughout a week).

Possible impact, but scientific evidence is not sufficient presently:

  • Adequate intake of Vitamin D and magnesium through food are linked to health, but have not been shown to be linked to BP. Further investigation is needed.
  • Supplementation of potassium, Vitamin D, and magnesium if intake through food is not sufficient and recommended by a registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist.

Interestingly, the goals for nutrition for those with elevated BP or hypertension, fit nicely with the goals of eating well for athletes.


Nutrition Challenge Winner…..

Will be announced on Saturday, December 9 at the BIG Holiday party! See you there!

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN


Questions about food during the holidays? Contact me at [email protected]