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Improving the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease.

MKC News

Controlling Your Blood Pressure Through Diet

Did you know that what you eat can affect your blood pressure? Managing your blood pressure is important for keeping your kidneys healthy. Follow these guidelines to help lower your blood pressure.

  • Cut back on salt. Eating foods with less sodium is one of the most important steps to lowering blood pressure.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Find ways to incorporate extra servings of fruits and vegetables into meals and snacks.
  • Eat smaller portions of meat. Did you know that one serving of meat is just three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards? You should aim for no more than six ounces of lean meat a day.
  • Limit your fat intake. When possible, choose low-fat or fat-free options, especially for milk and dairy products.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers more information about combatting high blood pressure, including a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating planpdf icon.

Do you have any tips on eating for heart health? Let us know!

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Family Reunion Success Story: Health Talk/Health Walk in Atlantic City

Two women, walking on the boardwalk.

As a heart disease researcher for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Cheryl Nelson knows the importance of being mindful of her numbers–blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, A1C, and BMI. So when she found herself on the Nelson Family Reunion committee, she decided to share what she knew with her family, too.

During the Nelson Family Reunion, held July 21-23 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Cheryl led an informal Health Talk/Health Walk with nearly 30 members of her family. She explained what it means to have hypertension (high blood pressure) and pre-hypertension, healthy ranges for cholesterol and glucose, and defined A1C and BMI. Family members shared tips and tricks for controlling these numbers–like being more physically active by taking the stairs instead of the elevator–and congratulated members of the family who took positive steps to improve their health by quitting smoking. After the talk, Cheryl led her family in a walk down the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Cheryl says her family loved the Health Talk/Health Walk so much that many of them mentioned wanting to do one at other family reunions they were attending. "It was definitely worthwhile to do," said Cheryl, "many members of my family did not know what their numbers were or their target ranges, so I'm happy to have gotten the information to them."

If you're thinking of holding a Health Talk/Health Walk at an upcoming reunion, Cheryl believes it's important to voice your concerns for your family's health. "I prefaced everything with, 'I'm concerned about your health and I want you to live a long, healthy life. I want to see you again at future family reunions," she advised. She also gave each participant a goodie bag with informational cards about blood pressure, cholesterol, nutrition, physical activity, and heart health to help them remember the session, their time at the reunion, and remind them to make healthy choices for their heart. "No one ever did this at my family reunion before," she said. "But I'm glad I did. It's important to share this information and make everyone aware of their health status." Cheryl says at her next reunion she plans to tie these numbers together once again and talk about kidney disease with the help of NKDEP's Family Reunion Initiative. "I wish I had discovered it sooner," she said, "it would have saved me so much time trying to decide what to present to my family."

We want to hear from you! Did you host or participate in a health talk at your last family reunion? Email us at, subject line "My Family Reunion Story", to tell us about it and we may feature you in a future eNewsletter!

Page last updated: September 4, 2013