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The Facts About Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:




mm Hg

There are several categories of blood pressure, including:


• Normal: Less than 120/80

• Prehypertension: 120-139/80-89

• Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159/90-99

• Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above/100 and above People whose blood pressure is above the normal range should consult their doctor about methods for lowering it. 


Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in your blood. Your cells need cholesterol, and your body makes all it needs. But you also get cholesterol from the food you eat.


 If you have too much cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries (Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.) This is called hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. It is usually a slow process that gets worse as you age. To understand what happens, think about how a clog forms in the pipe under a kitchen sink. Like the buildup of grease in the pipe, the accumulation of cholesterol narrows your arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow through them. It reduces the amount of blood that gets to your body tissues, including your heart. It can lead to severe problems, including heart attack and stroke. 



There are several categories of cholesterol, including:


• High cholesterol is 240 or above

• Borderline-high is 200 to 239

• Best is less than 200


What Are The Different Kinds Of Cholesterol?

• LDL is the “bad” cholesterol, the kind that can clog your arteries.

This cholesterol you need to lower if you have high cholesterol.

• HDL is the “good” cholesterol. HDL helps clear fat from your blood. A high level of HDL can help protect you from a heart attack.

• Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. If you have high triglycerides and high LDL, your chances of having a heart attack are more elevated.

• An LDL of 190 mg/dL or more is very high.


It is crucial to “Know Your Numbers” concerning blood pressure and cholesterol. All four forces the heart to work harder to pump adequate blood throughout the body. This extra work causes the muscles of the heart to enlarge, and eventually, the enlarged heart becomes inefficient in pumping blood. An enlarged heart may lead to heart failure, in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.


Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body, and it contributes to the hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis and the development of heart failure. 



The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).


The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).


Let’s face it, a low-sodium diet is not our first choice, but it is excellent for the heart. Sodium is just another word for salt.


It is crucial to decrease the amount of sodium you eat because it can affect the heart. Sodium causes extra fluid to build up in your body. The excess fluid makes your heart work harder.


The typical American diet is very high in sodium. Even if you do not add salt while cooking or do not use the salt shaker at the table, you are probably added sodium. That is because we eat processed foods, like frozen dinners, boxed noodles, and rice dishes, canned soups, and canned vegetables. Most processed foods are high in sodium.


There are three sections of low-sodium. Sodium free is less than 5mg sodium per servings. Very low-sodium is no more than 35mg sodium per servings, and low-sodium is no more than 140mg sodium per serving.


I have provided some low-sodium spices, herbs, seasonings, and condiments to help you live a healthy lifestyle with a strong heart. Trader Joe’s has an excellent selection of low-sodium spices, herbs, seasonings, and sauces. I have provided a list below:


Garlic Powder



Bay leaves

Heart To Heart No Salt Seasoning

Lemon juice

Black pepper

Low-sodium ketchup [limit to 1-2 tbsp.]

Cayenne pepper

Mrs. Dash Nutmeg

Celery powder

Mrs. Dash Products (any variety of Mrs. Dash spices/herbs)

Chili powder

Onion Powder







Cocoa powder

Pimento Cumin

Red pepper




Tabasco pepper sauce [1 tbsp. OK]

Dry mustard

Thyme Flavored extracts [vanilla, almond]

Fresh garlic