As you plan your summer fun, think also about adopting healthy habits that can help keep your blood pressure under control. When your blood pressure is consistently high — a condition called hypertension — blood flows through arteries at higher-than-normal pressures. This can cause serious health problems not just for your heart, but also for your blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and brain.
Hypertension affects women and men of all ages but making small lifestyle changes can go a long way toward prevention. Start with updating your summer menu with delicious, heart-healthy recipes, like this Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken.
Following a heart-healthy eating plan, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy and healthy oils, can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Developed through research by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), DASH focuses on reducing sodium and limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, including fatty meats, full-fat dairy and tropical oils.
Along with adding healthy recipes to your summer menu, NHLBI’s The Heart Truth program encourages these healthy habits that can help you control blood pressure:
Move more: Aim for at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of physical activity each week. Try keeping yourself on pace each week by shooting for 30 daily minutes of activity over five days.
Aim for a healthy weight: Research shows adults with overweight and obesity can lower their blood pressure by losing just 3-5% of their weight. Ask a friend or family member to join a weight loss program with you; social support can help you both stay motivated.
Manage stress: Reduce stress — which can increase blood pressure — with meditation, relaxing activities or support from a counselor or online group.
Quit smoking: Smoking damages your heart and blood vessels. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or find other resources available online.
Get your summer off to a heart-healthy start by talking to your health care provider about your blood pressure numbers and what they mean. To learn more about heart health and blood pressure, visit hearttruth.gov and find DASH-friendly recipes at healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov.
Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic (about 1 clove), minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 large breasts), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 24 cubes)
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, diced (about 24 pieces)
- 8 wooden skewers (6 inches each), soaked in water
To make sauce: Combine ketchup, soy sauce, honey, orange juice, garlic and ginger; mix well. Separate into two bowls and set aside.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Alternately thread three chicken cubes and three pineapple chunks on each skewer. Grill skewers 3-5 minutes on each side. Brush or spoon sauce from one bowl onto chicken and pineapple every other minute. Discard remaining sauce from first bowl.
To prevent chicken from drying out, finish cooking to minimum internal temperature of 165ºF in oven. Using clean brush or spoon, coat with sauce from remaining bowl before serving.