If blood pressure is elevated, the heart must work harder to pump an adequate amount of blood to all the tissues of the body. Ultimately, the condition often leads to kidney failure, heart failure, and stroke. In addition, high blood pressure is often associated with coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, kidney disorders, obesity, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and adrenal tumors. Because high blood pressure usually causes no symptoms until complications develop, it s known as the "silent killer". Warning signs associated with advanced hypertension may include headaches, sweating, rapid pulse, shortness of breath, dizziness, and visual disturbances. Blood pressure is usually divided into two categories, designated primary and secondary. Primary hypertension is high blood pressure that is not due to another underlying disease. The precise cause is unknown, but a number of definite risk factors have been identified. These include cigarette smoking, stress, obesity, excessive use of stimulants such as coffee or tea, drug abuse, and high sodium intake. Because too much water retention can exert pressure on the blood vessels, those who consume foods high in sodium may be at a greater risk for high blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure is also common in people who are overweight. Blood pressure can rise due to stress as well, because stress causes the walls of the arteries to constrict. Also, those with family history of hypertension are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Recommendations: Follow a strict salt-free diet. This is essential for lowering blood pressure. Lowering your salt intake is not enough; eliminate all salt from your diet. Read labels carefully and avoid those food products that have "salt", "soda", "sodium", or the symbol "Na" on the label. Some foods and food additives that should be avoided on this diet include: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) Baking Soda Canned Vegetables Commercially prepared foods Over-the-counter medication that contain ibuprofen Diet soft drinks Foods with mold inhibitors, preservatives, and/or sugar substitutes Meat tenderizers Softened water Soy sauce Eat a high-fiber diet and take supplemental fiber. Oat bran is a good source of fiber. Note: Always take supplemental fiber separately from other supplements and medications. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, asparagus, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, eggplant, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, melons, peas, prunes, raisins, squash, and sweet potatoes. Include fresh "live" juices in the diet. The following juices are healthful: beet, carrot, celery, currant, cranberry, citrus fruit, parsley, spinach and watermelon. Eat grains like brown rice, buckwheat, millet and oat. Drink steam-distilled water only. Take 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil daily. Avoid all animal fats. Bacon, beef, bouillons, chicken liver, corned beef, dairy products, gravies, pork, sausage, and smoked or processed meats are prohibited. The only acceptable animal foods are broiled white fish and skinless turkey or chicken, and these should be consumed in moderation only. Get protein from vegetable sources, grains, and legumes instead. Avoid foods such as aged cheeses, aged meats, anchovies, avocados, chocolate, fava beans, pickled herring, sherry, sour cream, wine, and yogurt. Avoid all alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. If you are taking an MAO inhibitor, avoid the chemical tyramine and its precuror, tyrosine. Combining MAO inhibitors with tyramine causes the blood pressure to soar and could cause a stroke. Tyraminecontaining foods include: Almonds Avocados Bananas Beef or chicken liver Beer Cheese (including cottage cheese) Chocolate Coffee Fava beans Herring Meat tenderizer Peanuts Pickles Pineapples Pumpkin seeds Raisins Sausage Sesame seeds Sour cream Soy sauce Wine Yeast extracts (including brewer's yeast) Yogurt In general, any high-protein food that has undergone aging, pickling, fermentation or similar processes should be avoided. Over-the-counter cold and allergy remedies should also be avoided. Keep your weight down. If your are overweight, take steps to lose excess pounds. Fast for three to five days each month. Periodic cleansing fasts help to detoxify the body. Get regular light to moderate exercise. Take care not to overexert yourself, especially in hot or humid weather. Caution: Consult with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise regimen, particularly if you have been sedentary for some time. Be sure to get sufficient sleep. Have your blood pressure checked at least every four to six months. Because hypertension often shows no signs, regular blood pressure checks by a professional are important, especially if you are in a high risk category. Do not take antihistamines except under a physician's direction. Do not take supplements containing the amino acids phenylalanine or tyrosine. Avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), which contains phenylalanine. As much as possible, avoid stress.