It began 30 minutes before Helen Woodward left the amusement park. Once she arrived at her home, she ascended the stairs and fell onto her bed. Her children brought over-the-counter medication to her, but the excruciating headache was unrelenting. When she arrived at the emergency room several hours later, she learned that her blood pressure was 177/105.
The crisis experienced by Woodward, a native of LaGrange, Ga., and Spelman College alumna, made her one of nearly 77 million adult Americans who have high blood pressure. Rather than rely completely upon two prescription medications to improve her health, she did something uncommon– she took her doctor’s orders seriously and changed her lifestyle. A cornerstone of her doctor-prescribed plan was to reduce her intake of sodium.
“On my first visit to the grocery store following my release from the emergency room, I realized that I was on my own. How would I know if a food was low or high in sodium?” said Woodward. Frustration and determination to control her blood pressure led her to conduct extensive research to find foods low in sodium. Woodward’s search entailed reading more than 20,000 nutrition labels to find foods that meet the low sodium benchmark established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“It is very hard to find products on the shelves of the grocery store that are truly low in sodium,” said Woodward, a self-described problem solver. Over the past two years, Woodward authored a book, that she calls a grocery shopping manual, to help everyday people like her pull the low sodium foods right off the shelves. Her book, “Salt Is A Four Letter Word: Higher Consciousness To Lower Blood Pressure,” takes the guesswork out of healthy food shopping by charting the sodium content of hundreds of today’s most popular food brand items within the current U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. The book shows you in easy to understand detail which foods are truly low in sodium, those that are borderline, and those to avoid.
“High blood pressure patients need to know the products low in sodium. They need to know whether to buy Ken’s Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette Salad Dressing or Kraft Free Zesty Italian Salad Dressing,” said Woodward.
I asked Woodward about the results of her efforts. “I am no longer taking two prescription medications; only one and on average, my blood pressure is 118/79.
To learn more about Woodward and her book, visit www.helen-woodward.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since her diagnosis with high blood pressure, Woodward has spent her time searching for foods that are low in sodium, according to the criteria established by the FDA. A key part of her search was conducted in the nation’s popular grocery store chains, where she has read the nutrition labels of more than 20,000 items in order to identify the brands that are truly low in sodium. Woodward’s book easily navigates you to the low sodium foods sold by the nation’s grocery stores.
She is the daughter of the late Rev. and Mrs. Maurice W. Woodward Sr. and holds a degree from Spelman College and an MBA from Simmons School of Management. She has worked in pivotal roles in the consumer health and wellness industry. But most importantly, she is eager to enlighten others on how to manage high blood pressure, which has been called a neglected condition in the United States