February 25, 2023

One of the key components of heart health is blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, you are at higher risk of developing other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke. The good news is that there are some diet and lifestyle modifications you can make to help reduce your risk.

What is high blood pressure? As blood circulates, it presses against artery walls, creating pressure. Too much pressure forces the heart to work harder, potentially straining it. A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers: systolic pressure, measured as the heart pumps, and diastolic pressure, recorded between heartbeats. A resting blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg is considered normal. Prehypertension is 120-139/80-89 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg or higher is hypertension.

Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day; it tends to increase with exercise and strong emotions. But consistently high blood pressure is affected by many factors, including genetics, some medical conditions, diet, heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, stress and limited exercise.

When it comes to diet, high intake of sodium and low intake of fruits and vegetables may increase your risk for high blood pressure. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day and eating at least 1½ cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium and contain potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Also try to eat lean sources of protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish and beans. Consider whole-grain breads and pastas and look for lower-sodium versions of packaged foods.

Diet alone can’t completely cure or prevent high blood pressure, but it can help. Some factors are out of your control, such as a family history of high blood pressure or pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes and some autoimmune diseases. People over 40 should be tested annually – while those under 40 should get tested every 2 to 5 years. If you’re diagnosed with hypertension, work with a doctor to help manage it.

During the month of February 2023, you can get a free biometric screening at select Hy-Vee locations. A Hy-Vee dietitian will collect a blood sample from a finger prick to determine cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels. Resting blood pressure, weight, body fat percentage and waist and hip circumference are also measured. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Fasting for a period of 10 to 12 hours in advance is required. These screenings are made possible by these generous sponsors: RxSugar®, Perfect Bars, Sweet Loren’s Less Sugar Cookie Dough, Belgioioso Ricotta and Parmesan Cheese, and the National Peanut Board. Request your free screening by speaking with your Hy-Vee dietitian or follow this link.

Try out this twist on corn chowder the whole family will love. We made some ingredient swaps from the original recipe, such as using unsalted vegetable stock and frozen corn and reducing the amount of other higher-sodium ingredients, to help keep the sodium level under control.

Thai Corn Chowder
Serves 6 (1½ cups each)

All You Need:
1 (13.66-oz) can unsweetened coconut cream, divided
2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
1 (11-oz) can Hy-Vee Mexican style corn, drained; divided
½ cup chopped red onion
3 tbsp green curry paste
2 tbsp refrigerated lemongrass paste
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp sambal oelek chili paste
¼ tsp Hy-Vee salt
1 (32-oz) container unsalted vegetable stock
3½ cups frozen corn
Sliced green onions, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving

All you do:

  1. Cook ½ cup coconut cream and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat until heated. Add ½ can drained Mexican-style corn and red onion; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is softened.
  2. Add curry paste, lemongrass paste, lime juice, chili paste, remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and salt; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Stir in vegetable stock.
  3. Blend soup mixture with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Stir in frozen corn and remaining ½ can Mexican-style corn and coconut cream. Cook, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes or until soup is thickened, stirring occasionally.
  4. To serve, ladle soup into serving bowls. Garnish with green onions and serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Per serving: 290 calories, 16g fat, 13g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 920mg sodium, 32g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 13g sugar (0g added sugar), 4g protein. Daily Values: vitamin D 0%, calcium 0%, iron 6%, potassium 8%. Recipe source: adapted from February 2023 Hy-Vee Seasons magazine. Hy-Vee dietitians are available to help with your heart health all year long! Get started today with our complimentary On-Demand Heart Health Virtual Nutrition Store Tour where you will learn the basics of a heart-healthy meal plan! Plus, get shopping tips and product recommendations to help add more nutrition to your cart. Register for your on-demand tour today at https://www.hy-vee.com/health/hy-vee-dietitians/default.aspx. The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.