Did you know that nearly one billion (yes, you read that correctly) people worldwide have high blood pressure?
Did you know that high blood pressure is the most common *preventable* risk factor for cardiovascular disease?
Did you know that high blood pressure also puts your brain and kidneys at risk of damage?
Did you know that high blood pressure is rightly termed a “silent killer” as most people don’t even realize their blood pressure is high (unless it is checked by a physician regularly) until they suffer a heart attack or stroke?
So, if you didn’t know the above listed sobering facts…you do now!
And, that means one thing: none of us are immune to the need of maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Here, we’ll learn how something as simple as our diet can help to lower blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure
First, what is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of the blood within your arteries and other blood vessels becomes too high.
A blood pressure reading with a systolic value (top number) of 130 mm Hg or more, and a diastolic value (bottom number) of 80 mm Hg or more, is labelled as high blood pressure (either number can be high, or both can be high to qualify as hypertension).
When your blood pressure is high, this makes your heart work harder, too hard in fact, which causes this life-sustaining muscle to become thick and stiff.
And, this change to your heart muscle can cause malfunctioning, increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure and kidney failure.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure often has no symptoms, meaning without a blood pressure reading, you may not even realize it when your heart is in danger.
So, how can you ensure your blood pressure levels are in a healthy range, or lower your blood pressure if it is currently high?
One way to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease is through your diet!
If you currently have high blood pressure, perhaps your doctor has already prescribed a change in diet and lifestyle, as such changes can be very effective at not only lowering blood pressure but improving your health overall.
Check out the many benefits of the following foods, and consider adding them to a balanced, nutritious diet to lower your blood pressure:
Bananas are a great source of potassium, a mineral known to reduce the effects of sodium on the body and decrease tension within the walls of your blood vessels, effectively working to lower blood pressure.
One banana has roughly 422 milligrams of potassium, roughly 10% of the recommended daily value for adults.
2- Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits are all loaded with vitamins and minerals that can lower blood pressure.
Even in juice form (as long as those juices aren’t filled with added sugars), citrus fruits are beneficial.
One study found that participants who drank two glasses of orange juice daily saw decreases in their blood pressure in just 12 weeks, compared to those who did not consume the citrus juice.
3- Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, a common fat proven to lower blood pressure.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation within the body, and they are able to lower levels of oxylipins, compounds that can cause constriction in blood vessels.
Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries contain a particularly beneficial type of flavonoid, an antioxidant compound known as anthocyanins.
Research surrounding this compound concluded those persons consuming the highest amounts of anthocyanins saw an 8% reduced risk of high blood pressure compared to those consuming low amounts of the compound.
The anthocyanins in berries have also been shown to increase levels of nitric oxide in the blood which is thought to reduce blood pressure.
Specific compounds in celery, called phthalides, are thought to help your blood vessels relax, thereby lowering your blood pressure, making this crunchy favorite a great addition to your diet.
Some studies even show a direct link between the consumption of celery and significantly lowered blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, yogurt may have a blood pressure lowering effect in women.
Low-fat dairy products are also a good source of calcium, a mineral known for its ability to control vascular smooth muscle cell contractility, which in turn regulates blood pressure levels.
Look for varieties of yogurt that don’t contain added sugars as unsweetened varieties of yogurt, including natural yogurts and greek yogurt, are thought to have the greatest benefits to blood pressure.
Studies have shown that consumption of tomatoes and tomato products can potentially reduce your risk of heart disease and heart disease related death by reducing blood pressure.
They contain potassium and lycopene, both of which are heart healthy, known for their ability to reduce blood pressure.
Pomegranates, specifically pomegranate juice, has been found to reduce high blood pressure in just a short period of time according to recent studies.
Researchers believe this fruit’s rich antioxidant content is responsible for its hypertension curing abilities. But, if you’re adding this to your diet, just be sure to choose pomegranate juice that doesn’t contain added sugars.
Beets are high in nitric oxide, therefore, like some berries, this root vegetable is a great blood pressure lowering food.
Research conducted surrounding the consumption of red beet juice showed those individuals with hypertension drinking one cup per day over the course of 4 weeks lowered their blood pressure levels significantly.
Pistachios have been known to lower blood pressure by lowering heart rate and reducing tightening within blood vessels.
One study found that consuming pistachios as part of a moderate-fat diet reduced blood pressure during stressful times. This benefit is thought to stem back to the reduction in blood vessel constriction.
11- Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, collard greens, and beet greens are all excellent sources of potassium, and we learned earlier of this mineral’s ability to reduce tension within the walls of blood vessels, aiding in blood pressure regulation.
Many leafy greens also contain magnesium, which helps reduce blood pressure by promoting relaxation of blood vessels.
12- Dark Chocolate
A review of several studies has found cocoa-rich dark chocolate to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension and prehypertension.
The flavonols in dark chocolate are also known to regulate blood pressure by working to make sure your blood vessels function properly.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are high in…
- Calcium, which is known to regulate blood pressure levels
- Potassium, known to decrease tension within the walls of blood vessels
- Magnesium, which increases production of nitric oxide, helping to relax blood vessels
- Vitamin C, which can act as a diuretic, removing excess fluid from the body, relieving pressure in blood vessels
Broccoli is also rich in antioxidants that work to improve blood vessel function.
14- Beans And Lentils
A 2014 study revealed foods like beans, peas, and lentils were effective at lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
These foods are also rich in magnesium and potassium, both working to release tension or relax blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin that is released when this vegetable from the onion family is either crushed or chopped.
Allicin is thought to inhibit the production of a compound known to raise blood pressure.
Concerning garlic extract, some studies have shown this to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressures in people with hypertension.
And, some research shows garlic increases the body’s production of nitric oxide in the blood, also resulting in lowered blood pressure.
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