5 Food Tips to Help Lower Blood Pressure
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD/
Mar 30th, 2017
Can you believe about 73 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure and hypertension and some might not even know it? And less than one third of those people have the condition under control? Also known as “the silent killer,” high blood pressure shows no signs and forces your heart to pump harder, causing the arteries to be under increased pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can even lead to injury of the artery walls, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease or an increased risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Okay, enough of the scary stuff. The good news is there are ways to avoid high blood pressure and all the risks associated with it! Experts agree maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and not smoking are three of the best ways to manage blood pressure but below you will find five more foods to eat (or not eat) that may help you avoid “the silent killer!”
The Tale of Two Minerals: Potassium & Sodium
Most people know limiting sodium and salt to less than 2,400 milligrams per day is recommended but Americans tend to overlook their lack of potassium. People who meet the daily requirements for electrolyte potassium reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and its risks factors! Get more potassium by adding dark green leafy vegetables to your diet and other fruits and veggies like bananas, oranges, papayas, cherries, kiwi, tomatoes, avocado, cantaloupe, watermelon, artichokes, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Try this Artichoke Half with Restaurant-Style Hot Spinach Dip or Sweet or Spicy Yam Chip recipe for high potassium snacks!
The Three Amigo Minerals: Potassium, Magnesium & Calcium
Now that we are familiar with the power of potassium, it’s time to start thinking about potassium’s two blood pressure busting sidekicks– magnesium and calcium, all three of which are vital in the improvement of blood pressure. Luckily, at least two (and sometimes three) of these minerals can be found together in foods. While the star of the show, dark leafy veggies, boasts all three minerals, other foods, like low fat dairy, nuts, beans and peas, seafood and whole grains can help lower blood pressure when consumed regularly. Shrimp & Sweet Potato Spring Rolls and Maple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowls are two mineral-packed recipes you must try!
Let the DASH Diet Inspire You
The DASH eating plan features many of the foods noted above and has lowered blood pressure like what is commonly achieved when using medications. Along with a lower sodium intake, this tested eating plan encourages 8 to 10 servings of veggies and whole fruit daily, as well as 2 to 3 servings of low-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and no more than 6 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish. This Bang Bang Shrimp recipe meets all the DASH Diet requirements and is DELICIOUS!
Include Extra Virgin Olive Oil in your Daily Diet
New research suggests there may be blood pressure-lowering benefits in extra virgin olive oil when added to your daily diet! Along with favorable monounsaturated fats, extra virgin olive oil adds 30-plus plant compounds, many of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in the body.
Dark Chocolate & Cocoa Helps Crush High Blood Pressure
Dark chocolate– now that’s a health benefit we can get behind! Dark chocolate and unsweetened cocoa are loaded with antioxidants and improve blood pressure, blood lipids and arterial flexibility leading to overall vascular health. Stick to .33 ounces of dark chocolate or 1.5 tablespoons of cocoa powder at least 3 to 4 times a week to reap the benefits!