JOPLIN, MO – Many of us suffer from a medical condition we may not know we have.

It’s called hypertension, more commonly, high blood pressure.

Left untreated, it puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke.

But there are measures people can take to improve, or even eliminate it.

According to the CDC, nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure, and are taking medication for it.

And of those who do, only about 1/4 of them have it under control.

“The more plant foods we can eat, the better, and the less crinkly packages we can partake of the better.” Says Karen King, YMCA Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer.

Karen King is a certified nutrition coach and personal fitness trainer at the Joplin Family Y.

She says exercising regularly and making better food choices are two ways to improve things.

There’s even a diet specifically designed for people who have high blood pressure.

“So the DASH diet actually stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, so it’s a really good place to go, it’s been around for a long time and is rated in the top three best diets by U.S. News and World Report.” Says King.

But salt intake isn’t always the root cause of hypertension.

“Contrary to popular belief, salt does not cause hypertension, the cause of hypertension are other things and um salt makes it worse, it just makes it hard to hard to control.” Says Dr. Jahan Zeb, Mercy Interventional Cardiology.

Zeb says weight gain brought on by eating and drinking too much of the wrong foods can be the trigger.

“Uh what happens is the blood pressure increases because of all those factors and as your weight increases from eating processed foods then uh your blood pressure rises as well.” Says Dr. Zeb.

Regardless of the cause of high blood pressure, eating as much fruits and vegetables as you can is one of the best treatment methods.

And if you’d like more information on the Dash Diet, click here.