About 29%, or 7.54 million, of Texans report being diagnosed with hypertension. That means about 41% of blacks, 34%of American Indians or Alaskan Natives, 32% of whites and 24% of Hispanics/Latinos have hypertension.

People with hypertension are at greater risk of developing conditions associated with the heart, including heart failure and heart attack, as well as stroke, chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes.

Hypertension, commonly referred to as high blood pressure, has a self-management component rooted in the foods we eat. Many people are encouraged by health care providers to adopt the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — or DASH — plan as part of a healthy lifestyle with an emphasis on foods that help lower high blood pressure, as well as adding physical activity into daily routines. The DASH eating plan is not intended to treat high blood pressure. However, following the eating pattern and lifestyle modifications has been shown to lower blood pressure.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the DASH eating plan requires no special foods but encourages people to choose heart-healthy foods with daily and weekly limits in mind. The DASH eating plan includes foods from the five major food groups. However, special attention is given to limiting foods with higher fat, sodium and sugar content. Some of the main recommendations are:

■ Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains;

■ Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils;

■ Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils; and

■ Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.

The typical American diet is so overly salted that the first few tastes of low-sodium foods can leave people unimpressed and unwillingly to make changes to their traditional diets. Thankfully, your taste buds can be “reprogrammed” by choosing to eat lower-sodium foods for two to three weeks. The longer you eat the healthier, low-sodium foods, the better they taste.

Rather than focusing on what you can’t eat, explore the new flavors of delicious heart-healthy recipes.

Not sure where to find reliable, healthy recipes? Check out the Dinner Tonight website at dinnertonight.tamu.edu, where all recipes listed meet the standard Dietary Guidelines for Americans and many are heart-check certified by the American Heart Association.

— Mandy Patrick is the family and community health Extension agent for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Gregg County. Email: Mandy.Patrick@ag.tamu.edu .