Blood pressure is referred to as the rate at which your blood pushes against your arteries. Blood pressure varies throughout the day, however, there can be complications when it rises and falls from one extreme to the other. When your systolic blood pressure is 140 mmHg or higher, or your diastolic blood pressure is 90 mmHg, or both, it is referred to as hypertension or high blood pressure.
About half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have high blood pressure and only about 24% with hypertension have their condition under control. This is alarming because high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, heart failure, and stroke, which are all prominent causes of death in the United States.
High blood pressure is typically treated with medications, but certain lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in treating the condition. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, making healthy decisions, e.g., shedding extra weight, exercising regularly, reducing salt intake, and most importantly eating a healthy diet, can help regulate your blood pressure. These lifestyle changes can boost the effectiveness of blood-pressure-lowering medications and lower your chances of developing stroke and heart diseases.
Eating heart-healthy foods such as legumes, whole grains, fruits, and leafy green vegetables, especially those rich in potassium and magnesium can significantly lower blood pressure levels. Here are 5 foods that can help reduce high blood pressure.
Leafy green vegetables are a vital component of a healthy diet. Some leafy greens can be eaten raw by tossing them in a salad, while others may require cooking. These edible plant leaves are rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, and low in calories. Leafy green vegetables are also high in nitrate, calcium, and folate, all of which help to regulate blood pressure.
Potassium relieves stress in the walls of your blood vessels thus lowering blood pressure. You also shed more salt through your urine when you consume foods rich in potassium. Vegetables like spinach, Bok Choy, and swiss chard are some of the best sources of potassium. Spinach contains 1,180 mg per cup of potassium, while swiss chard provides almost 1,000 mg per cooked cup.
Integrating legumes and beans such as lentils, garbanzo beans, soybeans, and peas into your daily diet can regulate or even lower your blood pressure. According to new studies, a high-fiber diet can help battle the effects of type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Legumes and beans are rich in fiber and can also help prevent coronary heart disease. Beans are also loaded with magnesium and potassium, which are effective in reducing blood pressure and increase the effectiveness of antihypertensive drugs. Legumes and beans are versatile and easy to add to your diet, stir them into your soup or top your salads to enjoy their rich taste and nutrients.
Beet, its juice, and greens are known for their efficiency in treating high blood pressure. Because of its high dietary nitrate content, beet juice has been proven to significantly reduce blood pressure after only a few hours of consumption. Beetroot is a healthy source of dietary fiber (about 3.4 grams). Studies show that eating foods high in fiber can effectively reduce both systolic and diastolic in people with high blood pressure. Beet greens also pack a healthy amount of nutrients. They are rich in Vitamin K, manganese, iron, and calcium, all of which contribute to maintaining a normal blood pressure level.
Most berries are rich in healthy antioxidants and flavonoids. According to a recent study, flavonoids found in blueberries help decrease blood pressure by 20% and prevent hypertension. Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries contain high amounts of a flavonoid known as anthocyanin, which is known to widen blood vessels for easy flow of blood and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Enjoy berries as a great snack or pair them with meals to enjoy their delicious taste and reap their health benefits.
Tomatoes contain a phytonutrient known as lycopene. When consumed, lycopene can reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and help decrease blood pressure. According to recent research, adding tomatoes to your meals can help reduce your blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Add juicy cherry tomatoes to your meals or drink a glass of tomato juice to keep your blood pressure levels under control.
Other foods you might want to include in your diet are oats, yogurt, banana, unsalted seeds (pumpkin, pistachio, sunflower, and squash), dark chocolate, and garlic. Oats are rich in dietary fiber, yogurt contains a good amount of calcium, while banana and unsalted seeds are good sources of magnesium and potassium. Ginger and dark chocolates (with at least 50% to 70% cacao content) contain a high amount of flavonol. All these nutrients play important roles in managing hypertension.
Bear in mind that foods high in salt and calories can increase your blood pressure levels. Salt contains sodium, a mineral that constantly needs to be washed from your body. Your body holds more water when you consume a high amount of sodium, so this can cause your blood pressure to rise and put pressure on your blood vessels and heart. In place of salt, consider using lemon, vinegar, natural spices, and herbs to improve the taste of your food. Also, substitute regular dairy products with low-fat and low-salt alternatives.