Magazine article Success

By the Numbers: Feel Better, Look Younger and Live Longer: Keep Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol at the Proper Levels

Magazine article Success

By the Numbers: Feel Better, Look Younger and Live Longer: Keep Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol at the Proper Levels

Article excerpt

This month we answer your questions about blood pressure and cholesterol, key factors in overall health.

Q: My blood pressure has been a little high-130/80. I want to lower it with diet and exercise. What should I do?

A: Get. your blood pressure down to 115/75, the level at which you'll see the least aging. The ideal blood pressure is 115176, established in. 56 st tidies and 52 countries by studying more than 20 million people. It is the same in New Delhi and Tokyo as in Chicago.

High blood pressure (or hypertension), which has no symptoms, is the amount of force exerted by your blood on the walls of your arteries as it passes through. High blood pressure nicks your arteries, leading to plaques, which are deposits inside the vessels; they can be life-threatening because they block blood flow, break off as blood clots and create aneurysms.

High blood pressure is easily treatable with drugs or lifestyle changes, so everyone should have his or her BP measured. "lo get. the most accurate health feedback, it's best to check your blood pressure during your normal activities in the morning, during the day and at night. If your BP is high at any of those times, take steps to reduce it--and you'll also reduce what we call your "RealAge," how your body is actually aging (not by the calendar).


At 55 years of age, you are one year older in RealAge for every 5 units above the top ideal HP number and one year older for every 7 units above the ideal bottom number. So drop a 160/90 reading down CO the ideal, and you make your RealAge about 11 years younger; from 130/80 to 115/75 would reduce your RealAge about four years. Here's further motivation: High blood pressure magnifies aging and symptoms associated with diabetes; it also causes kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, memory loss, impotence, hormone-related conditions and skin wrinkles.

Commit to changes in diet and physical activity to get to 115/75. 11 they don't reduce your blood pressure enough, then take one of the many BP-lowering medications. Drugs will provide benefits outweighing their potential side effects. Weight loss will reduce your blood pressure and your risk of cancer and musculoskeletal diseases such as colon cancer and hip osteoarthritis.

We recommend these foods and exercises for getting that ideal BP:

* Follow our Rule of Five. Don't eat foods that list any of these ingredients among the first five on the label:

1. and 2. Simple sugars and syrups. Among these are brown sugar, dextrose, corn sweetener, fructose (as in high-fructose corn syrup), glucose, corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar and sucrose. Keep a little honey, maple sugar and table sugar in your pantry for recipes.

3. Saturated fats. They include most four-legged animal fats (including butter, lard and milk fat) and tropical oils (palm and coconut, for instance). These fats inflame arteries and increase "bad" LDL cholesterol, expand waistlines, raise blood pressure and increase the awful consequences of hypertension.

4. Trans fats. These are listed on product labels and are most likely to occur in partially hydrogenated fats, vegetable oil blends that are hydrogenated, and many margarines. (If you must have a buttery spread, use cholesterol-fighting products such as Promise and Benecol.)

5. Flours other than "100 percent whole grain" or "100 percent whole wheat." Avoid anything labeled with "enriched" white flour, semolina, durum and other wheat flours that aren't 100 percent whole wheat. Why? Your body absorbs processed/enriched flour quickly, rushing too much sugar into the blood, and the excess is stored as fat. This causes fluctuating blood-sugar levels, putting you at risk of diabetes and obesity.

* Eat the right kinds of fats. Focus on lean proteins such as skinless turkey and chicken, and excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids (which raise HDL cholesterol), including salmon, trout or unsalted nuts. …

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