Can I eat my way to a lower blood pressure?
Approximately one-third of Americans suffer from hypertension – the medical term for high blood pressure – and it is a similar figure in other countries that have a predominantly ‘western’-style diet.
Here is the science bit:
RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls and ‘high’ blood pressure is when the force is greater than 140/90 mm of Hg. High blood pressure over a long period of time can have dangerous, and even fatal consequences. Left untreated, it can damage the blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and eyes, eventually causing stroke or heart failure.
But here is the good news:
High blood pressure can be controlled through diet, in this case a diet that is rich in calcium, potassium, lean protein and low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
And here are the good guys – the foods that will help lower your blood pressure:
Spinach is a green leafy vegetable that is rich in fiber, heart-healthy nutrients like folate, potassium, and magnesium. It is low in calories and is an effective remedy to lower and maintain subnormal blood pressure levels.
An easy way to incorporate this amazing green is by filling a sandwich with fresh spinach leaves or by blending it into salads.
Magical (skimmed) milk
Skimmed milk is a great source of calcium and vitamin D – both important friends when it comes to a healthy heart. Skimmed milk can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 15 per cent and will reduce hypertension significantly.
Drink it on its own, in porridge or over a healthy museli.
Potassium is another big buddy when it comes to heart health. And bananas are full of it. This fruit is full of energy, which makes it a great snack or post-exercise food, and it helps control blood pressure.
Eat bananas on their own, in smoothies, or how about a retro-favourite banana sandwich.
There are so many different types of beans, and they all make for a nutritious meal. Haricot, white, butter, black, lima, navy, kidney, pinto – the list goes on.
The good news is, whatever your favourite bean it will be fully loaded with magnesium, soluble fiber, and potassium, all of which work to lower the blood pressure and to improve overall cardiovascular health. Serve beans in soups, salads, wraps, casseroles or with pasta. They are incredibly versatile, cheap and easy to cook.
Other super foods that will help lower blood pressure include: soybeans, which are rich in potassium and magnesium; unsalted sunflower seeds, also an abundant source of magnesium and baked potatoes, which are full of vital nutrients such as magnesium and potassium.
Say goodbye to excessive salt:
The biggest enemy to blood pressure is salt (sodium). While we need salt in our diet, many foodstuffs, especially ready-made meal, are very high in salt. Some foods will contain more than the recommended daily intake of salt in just one serving.
This is why a good balance of both potassium and magnesium in your diet is essential. The two minerals work together to create a sodium balance.
If magnesium levels in the body are too low, then you can suffer sodium retention, which can raise the blood pressure level; at the same time an adequate intake of potassium can help the body to get rid of excessive sodium.
By adding a little of these food groups to your diet, you really can make a difference to the health of your heart.
Written by: Dr Chaitre Shivaramaiah