Foods to Help Lower Blood Pressure
Most people know about the strong link between nutrition and disease prevention. But did you know that you can eat certain foods to lower high blood pressure?
Many foods and dietary factors affect blood pressure. You can control blood pressure, even if you are on medications by getting to and maintaining a healthy weight; reducing your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) if it’s high; limiting the salt in your diet; exercising; and adding calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and potassium to your diet.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure results from two forces. One is created by the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The other is the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow. This is why blood pressure is vital, and one of the first things that is checked in trauma. Optimal blood pressure is at or below 120/70.
Foods to Lower Blood Pressure
What are some nutrition tips to help control my blood pressure naturally?
- Learn to read labels. Ingredients are listed in order, so if you see salt at the top of list you probably want to move on. Be aware of some items labeled “reduced” sodium as they may still be loaded with salt. Always check the serving size. Many times we plan on eating a whole can of something that is actually considered three servings.
- Beware of vegetable drinks, canned vegetables and soups, frozen dinners, processed meat and packaged sauces or marinades.
- Cut back on foods that are rapidly converted to sugar, such as refined pasta and white bread, white rice and sugary cereals. It’s also a good idea to check cereal labels for sodium content.
- Load up on fresh fruits that contain high amounts of potassium. These include bananas, cantalope ,grapes, kiwi fruit, mangos, oranges or fresh orange juice, papaya, and peaches. The best source of potassium is from foods. You should not take supplements without first consulting with your doctor.
- Eating a wide variety of legumes, nuts, whole grains, and dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach or kale will help you meet your daily dietary need for magnesium. Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds are also good sources of magnesium.
- Dark chocolate – Eating just an ounce can reduce blood pressure as researchers have shown. This is because of the effects of flavonoids, the compounds which casue dilation of blood vessels.
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How does salt increase blood pressure?
When you eat too much salt, which contains sodium, your body holds extra water to “wash” the salt from your body. In some people, this may cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.
How much sodium is too much?
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake no more than 1,500 milligrams. (A teaspoon of salt has about 2,400 milligrams of sodium.) Most people greatly exceed these sodium guidelines.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture recommend that adults should not consume more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day; the recommendations also say that African-Americans, people with hypertension, and people who are middle-aged and older, should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.
The good news is that lifestyle changes can help over 85 percent of those suffering from hypertension. Develop an exercise plan with the help of your doctor that incorporates aerobic exercise and strength training. Reduce stress through yoga or meditation. And eat foods that lower blood pressure!
Controlling high blood pressure (hypertension) is important because left unchecked, it can cause heart disease or stroke. Hypertension often lacks noticeable symptoms, so it is important to have regular physicals. Having a healthy approach to nutrition and lifestyle is a basic component of preventative medicine; and also can be effective in corrective medicine for many common health problems. Always check with your physician before beginning a new diet. [/sws_green_box]
Try this Grilled chicken salad with mango, papaya, and avocado (from Cooks.com).