Healthy Fast Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

Written by nikki jardin
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Healthy Fast Foods That Lower Blood Pressure
Some fast food is beneficial to the diet. (fast food image by FotoWorx from Fotolia.com)

A busy and productive lifestyle occasionally demands stopping in at a fast food restaurant for a meal. For people who need to eat foods that lower blood pressure, good options are available on the go. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “You can reduce your blood pressure by eating foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetable and low-fat dairy foods.” Even the most prominent fast food chains have choices on their menu that can meet these demands.

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Choose Less Fat and Cholesterol

Taco Bell offers customers the option to order foods “fresco,” which means salsa is added instead of cheese and sauce. A fresco Burrito Supreme has 340 calories, 2.5 g and 25 mg of cholesterol compared to 390 calories, 5 g of saturated fat and 40 mg of cholesterol in a regular Burrito Supreme. Eating foods that are lower in saturated fats and cholesterol will help to lower cholesterol and, in turn, blood pressure. Other ways to cut fat and cholesterol are to skip the extra burger patty, added bacon and “special sauce,” and avoid all deep-fried foods. Consider ordering a leaner chicken or turkey patty instead of beef, and opt for fat-free milk or water to drink instead of a milkshake or syrupy soda.

Eat More Vegetables

Keeping blood pressure in check means eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit. In the booklet “Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure,” the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommend eating four to five servings of vegetables and fruit every day. At the fast food restaurant, ask for extra portions of lettuce, tomatoes, onions or other vegetables offered on the burger or sandwich, or choose to eat a vegetarian meal two or three times a week, such as a stir fry bowl or meatless pasta dish.

Low Sodium Options

University of Maryland hypertension expert Dr. Elijah Saunders states, "A high sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure," and adds that "the human body requires only about 500 mg of sodium a day." Many fast foods are loaded with sodium, but selections are available that lessen the amount of salt in a meal. A side salad only has 10 g of sodium, but adding the dressing can increase your salt intake quickly. One packet of McDonald’s-featured Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette has 730 mg of sodium, compared to 290 mg in 85 g (3 oz.) of the salsa dressing. Use only half the packet to lower salt intake.

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