Hypertension or “high blood pressure” increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and peripheral vascular disease, but is often preventable. So why do nearly half of all American adults suffer with it?
High blood pressure (HBP) is defined as blood pressure over 140/90. Or specifically, a Systolic blood pressure (SBP) higher than 140 and a Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) higher than 90.
Around 108 million Americans (45% of adults) suffer from high blood pressure. And despite its manageability, only one in four of those adults have their hypertension under control. Why? When high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart attack but is largely manageable?
Medications like ACE Inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers are effective at reducing high blood pressure and are available for those who require them. However, significant improvement in blood pressure can be made through lifestyle changes including a healthier nutrition plan that directly and indirectly helps manage blood pressure. And even if you do end up on blood pressure pills, your doctor is going to recommend these nutritional changes then as well, so you might as well start getting used to them. It’s your health we’re talking about. Many doctors in fact believe that so-called “essential hypertension” is due to insulin resistance, so a low-carb high-fat diet is best suited to lower blood pressure.
Here are the best foods to eat to begin calming hypertension and giving your body what it needs to manage your blood pressure at healthy levels.
All citrus fruits, including oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and mandarins give you citric acid which is known to lower systolic blood pressure (SBP). Drinking lemon juice in water and regular exercise have been demonstrated to reduce blood pressure.
FISH HIGH IN OMEGA-3
Salmon, cod, herring, light tuna, and sardine are all known to give your body omega-3 which reduces inflammation and eliminates oxylipins which raise blood pressure by constricting blood vessels.
Chard is a great source of fiber, magnesium, and potassium, all nutrients that promote heart health and reduce hypertension. Magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker and thereby helps relax blood vessels.
In addition to being a great source of potassium and magnesium, pumpkin seeds also give you arginine, an amino acid that helps relax blood vessels.
BEANS AND LENTILS
Not only do beans and lentils bring hypertension-calming magnesium and potassium, beans also give you fiber, another ingredient important to heart health and blood pressure management. Replacing some meats with beans and lentils has been shown to significantly lower SBP And average BP in both people with and without high blood pressure.
Berries reduce a number of heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure. The anthocyanins in berries increases nitric oxide in the blood which relaxes blood vessels.
Pistachios are high in several nutrients useful to both blood pressure management and heart health, including potassium. Among all nuts, pistachios had the strongest effect on reducing both SBP and DBP.
Tomatoes and tomato products are rich in many nutrients that benefit the heart and hypertension, including potassium and lycopene. Lycopene has been highly correlated with heart health – a review of 21 studies concluded that tomato products improve blood pressure and reduce heart disease related deaths.
Onions, especially yellow onions containing prostaglandins have been shown to lower blood pressure.
Garlic often contains more than 7 dipeptides that inhibit angiotensin 1 converting enzyme and will lower blood pressure.
WHOLE STEEL CUT OATS
Whole steel cut oats – not instant oats – have been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the need for hypertensive medications.
Pomegranate juice is thought to work by increasing nitric oxide (NO) levels and has been shown to also improve erectile dysfunction.
Consumption of 100 grams per day of dark chocolate, which is rich in polyphenols, significantly decreases essential hypertension.
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