Blood pressure is the force of blood against the arterial walls. Hypertension is the term used to refer to abnormally high blood pressure. You have high blood pressure, or hypertension, when your blood pressure is consistently at 149/90 millimeter of Mercury or higher. Normally the first number, or systolic pressure, should be less than 120 and the second number, or diastolic pressure, should be less than 80, though the value changes with age and sex. High blood pressure can be as a result of genetics (familial history), end organ diseases, stress, arteriosclerosis, body weight, exercise and diet. etc.
Natural foods can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of related complications. There are foods that you can eat as well as foods that you should avoid that can help reduce your blood pressure naturally.
Diet can play a key role in lowering your blood pressure and preventing potential damage to the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys. It is important to know which foods help in lower blood pressure and incorporate them in your menus daily.
Foods to Avoid
According to the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, it is important that you eat a plant-based whole foods diet, and minimize your consumption of all refined and processed foods. All refined carbohydrates should be completely avoided and this includes but is not limited to white sugar, white pasta, high fructose corn syrup, chips, pretzels, sugary breakfast cereals, white bread, bagels, muffins and croissants.
Drinks and Substances to Avoid
Other substances that should be avoided include coffee, cigarettes, margarine, alcohol, soda and recreational drugs. It is important to avoid these foods and substances because they are devoid of nutrients and they likely cause free radicals to form in your body. David Rowland, Ph.D., says in his book “The Nutritional Bypass” that free radicals cause the cells in your arterial wall to mutate and are likely the leading cause of heart disease.
Fats to Avoid
Reduce your consumption of saturated fats, which are found in animal products such as meat and dairy, to help keep blood pressure in check. In addition, trans fats and hydrogenated fats found in many packaged goods, as well as all fried and greasy foods, should be eliminated because they are well-known for their artery clogging properties.
It was sometimes recommended that you should try and avoid all sources of salt as this could be essential for lowering blood pressure, but The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition takes a more liberal approach and recommends keeping your sodium intake below 1.8 g daily.
Eat a high-fiber diet. Balch says that you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and make them a staple of your diet because not only are they a great source of fiber, they are also filling and very nutrient-dense, naturally low in sodium and low in calories. It recommended that eating brown rice, millet, lentils, buckwheat and oats for their high-fiber, high-nutrient content and that you should aim for a daily intake of between 30 and 50 g of fiber and suggests taking oat bran, ground flaxseed, pectin, guar gum or rice brain supplements in order to meet this requirement. Fiber is important because it will reduce free radicals in your body by promoting regular elimination. It will also help to keep you full longer, which is beneficial for obtaining the healthy weight that is necessary for an optimally healthy heart.
Ideally, sodium and chloride, which make up salt, should not be higher than potassium; the optimal ratio is five parts potassium to one part sodium and chloride. However, most people consume too much salt in their diets, which leads to an imbalance of electrolytes and fluid levels and, in some people, increased blood pressure. You should increase your potassium intake because potassium play an important role in regulating your blood pressure. To restore a healthy electrolyte balance, eat more potassium-rich foods. It shouldn’t be a difficult dietary change considering that many foods contain potassium. Some of the best sources include bananas, citrus fruits, avocados, lima beans, salmon and chicken. Most fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and tomatoes, spinach and broccoli are also excellent sources.
Foods that contain lycopene, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava, may also be beneficial for lowering blood pressure. In a study published in the “American Journal of Hypertension” in 2001, Israeli researchers found that lycopene significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 9 millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure by 7 mmHg. The researchers add that by reducing blood pressure, lycopene may also be able to reduce related cardiovascular problems.
Food Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These essential fatty acids found in foods and cold water fish such as sardines, salmon, herring, mackerel, walnuts, flaxseed, Coconut oil and olive oil can also help regulate blood pressure, according to the International Study of Macro- and Micro-nutrients and Blood Pressure published in the journal “Hypertension” in 2007, the researchers concluded that these nutrients may play a role in preventing and controlling blood pressure levels.
Vegetables provide magnesium, potassium and fiber, which are important nutrients when trying to lower your blood pressure. Choose 4- to 5 cup servings daily from a variety of vegetables including broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, tomatoes and squash. If you consume vegetable juice, make sure you choose the low sodium variety.
Choose from a variety of fruits to help meet your magnesium, potassium, and fiber needs. Bananas, apples, berries, melons, peaches, pineapples, mango, and citrus fruits are good choices. Consume four to five servings each day. Choose fruit over juice to make sure you are getting fiber and controlling your calorie intake. If you choose juice, make sure it does not have added sugar.
Calcium has also been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Calcium is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation. Dairy products are a rich source of calcium, including low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt. Eat two to three servings per day, including 1 cup of milk or yogurt and 1 1/2 g of cheese. If you do not consume dairy products, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.
Consume six to eight servings of whole grains each day. Whole grain provides fiber, which can help to lower blood pressure. It’s been reported that replacing refined carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar, with any type of whole grain, including brown rice, whole grain cereals and breads, barley and oats, will reduce blood pressure.
Protein is an important nutrient to lower blood pressure, but the type of protein is an important consideration. Fatty fish, like salmon, provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are reported to be slightly hypotensive according to the American Heart Association. It suggests consuming a variety of fish twice a week.
Nuts, legumes and seeds are rich sources of fiber, energy, protein and magnesium. It is suggested to consuming four to five servings a week. A serving consists of ½ cup of cooked dried beans or peas, 1 1/2 oz. of almonds, hazel nuts, walnuts or peanuts, 2 Tbsp. of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, or 2 Tbsp. of nut butter.
Sodium causes blood vessels to narrow, which increases blood pressure. Replace your salt shaker with a variety of fresh and dried herbs and spices to add flavor to food. Talk to your doctor about using salt substitutes if you are on medications or have kidney disease.
Tomatoes can be enjoyed raw or lightly cooked, and even from the can they are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene. Tomatoes contain more than 1 g of potassium per 100 calories — about 3 cups — and are excellent sources of the vitamins A, C and K. Just don’t season your pasta too heavily with salt, lest you reverse potassium’s blood pressure-lowering effects.
Consumption of mushrooms lowers blood pressure because it provides potassium which qualifies it as an excellent source of mineral.
Spinach is a third source of potassium that qualifies as excellent. One cup provides roughly 25 percent of the daily value. Spinach is excellent steamed, boiled or mixed into salads and eaten raw.
Lettuce is more than 90 percent water by weight, but it is packed with nutrients. Two cups of lettuce contain only 15 calories but provide 325 mg of potassium, which helps to reduce the effect of the sodium included in many commercial salad dressings that season most salads.
Have a glass of milk with your cereal each morning, and drink milk at meals throughout the week. The American Heart Association recommends replacing full-fat milk and dairy products with non-fat or low-fat counterparts to keep your daily calcium intake high while reducing the total amount of fat you eat. Milk is high in calcium with about 300 to 350 mg per one-cup serving, and calcium works in conjunction with potassium and magnesium to lower blood pressure. Non-fat yogurt and low-fat cheeses are also good sources of calcium.
Try eating a baked potato as a meat substitute once or twice a week. Potatoes are extremely high in potassium, with more than 900 mg in one medium spud. Its reported that potassium cooperates with modest amounts of sodium to regulate healthy blood-pressure levels and reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. High-fat foods such as sour cream, bacon and butter can contribute to raising blood pressure, though, so try eating your potatoes with vegetables and a small amount of margarine. Go easy on the salt, too, since people who eat higher amounts of sodium generally have higher blood pressure.
Use soybeans and soy products as meat substitutes in meals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that a one-cup serving of soybeans has almost 900 mg potassium, as well as more than 40 percent of the recommended daily allowances of magnesium, calcium and fiber. Fiber is an important component of a healthy eating plan to lower blood pressure.
Eat salads that contain raw or cooked leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collards orchard. You can also incorporate these green leafy vegetables in stir fries or casseroles. The Leafy greens serves as a good sources of calcium and magnesium, and eating them regularly helps hypertension patients reach the eight to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Culled from joy bauer & Mayo clinic