I am a runner with a perfect BMI. I am about as fit as I have been in my entire adult life, I quit smoking almost a decade ago, and I don't have more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a week.
Despite all that, I have hypertension. Boom. Genetics are a you-know-what.
My maternal grandmother died of a stroke when she was in her mid-forties. I am in my mid-forties.
I had my first known brush with high blood pressure a few years ago, about a year after the birth of my first child. Since I had not other known health conditions and I was in good physical shape, my doctor decided that I should stop taking the pill and take a low dose diuretic. My blood pressure went down to normal and I stopped taking the medication. My blood pressure stayed normal when I was pregnant with my second child and I didn't give it another thought.
I recently noticed that my heart rate was higher that recommended when running, so I went to get a check up. Again, everything checked out, except my blood pressure. Back on meds - this time an ACE inhibitor.
I have been eating a relatively clean diet, but I had not been paying that close attention to salt or fat. I burn so many calories a week that I don't necessarily see the negative impact. Sure, I've replaced so-called "bad" fat with "good" fat, and white sugar with honey and maple syrup, but clearly the impact has been minimal. Why? Because, at the end of the day, fat is fat, and sugar is sugar, and salt is definitely salt. Whether it's organic. or artisan, or bespoke, it'd better be low in salt, sugar, and fat, or it could do more harm than good.
Taking the salt, fat and sugar out of soul food and having it taste good ain't easy. I've tried enough dry chicken and bland serving of greens to appreciate that. But living a flavor-less, totally chilled out existence isn't for me.
Luckily, it is now a lot easier to get fresh and more wholesome foods than ever before. Plus, there are a lot of folks out there that have developed techniques and hacks for cleaner, flavorful eating and a more relaxed existence.