healthy assorted foods surrounding the word "dash"

Is your blood pressure naughty or nice? When Santa Claus finally takes a day off to get his blood pressure checked, he’s probably in for a surprise. All those cookies, eggnog, extra pounds, and sitting in the sleigh are bad for the heart.

If your blood pressure (or your belly) looks anything like a jolly, old elf you’ll need to make some changes.

You’re on the Naughty List if…your blood pressure is 120/80 or higher. In case you’re wondering, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure.1

High blood pressure: 7 reasons to stay off the Naughty List

So what’s the big deal with high blood pressure? It’s called the ‘silent killer,’ because there are often no symptoms, even though high blood pressure can take a toll on your body.

Left unchecked, high blood pressure can increase the risk for:

  • Damage to the circulatory system
  • Stroke
  • Vision loss
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney damage
  • Sexual dysfunction

But you can change that with the DASH diet…Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

Research shows that the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure by 5 points or more in just four weeks.2 That could be low enough to put you on the Nice List!

DASH diet food guidelines

Ready to DASH away high blood pressure? Start by improving your diet. Here’s how:

  • Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Include healthy proteins like fish, poultry, beans and nuts
  • Use healthy oils for cooking (like olive oil or avocado oil)
  • Limit foods high in saturated fats like fried food, red or processed meats, or full-fat dairy products
  • Avoid or limit sugary drinks and snacks.

Making changes to your diet can help lower blood pressure and improve your health.
But don’t stop there. Regular exercise helps control blood pressure, too. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. And you may be on the Nice List soon.


  1. American Heart Association. (2023). The facts about high blood pressure. From:
  2. Juraschek, S., et al. (2017). Effects of sodium reduction and the DASH diet in relation to baseline blood
    pressure. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70: 23. From:

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