High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, has been dubbed the “silent killer” because there are usually no warning signs or symptoms. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day; however, if it remains high for extended periods of time, it can lead to serious health issues such as stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 75 million American adults, a whopping 29 percent of the adult population, have hypertension. With numbers like this, it’s easy to see why you need to do something to prevent yourself from becoming part of these statistics. First and foremost, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
Food Can Be Your Ally
One recommendation often given in the fight against high blood pressure is to eat a healthy diet. But you can go one step further by choosing to add foods that lower your blood pressure into your diet on a regular basis.
The CDC recommends the consumption of a diet low in sodium and rich in potassium, magnesium and fiber to help control blood pressure. With that in mind, let’s look at ten foods you can easily add to your diet that will help you prevent and fight hypertension.
Olive oil is a staple in the diets of those living in the Mediterranean, which happens to be where people are living longer and healthier than here in the United States. Olive oil is an antioxidant-rich cooking oil that can be used in most recipes without affecting the flavor.
Studies have shown that diets using extra virgin olive oil help combat cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure or hypertension.
A 2015 Spanish study proved that “extra virgin olive oil significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease” and suggests that the use of extra virgin olive oil in your diet can have a positive impact on much more than just blood pressure.
Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seed oil, which is used in the preparation of many Asian dishes, is another cooking oil with many heart-healthy properties. Traditionally, it has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
Studies have shown that sesame seed oil helps with hypertension as well as providing protection against cardiac hypertrophy – a thickening of the heart muscle, often caused by high blood pressure.
A study concerning hypertensive diabetics found that using sesame seed oil as the only edible oil in a diet was effective in lowering blood pressure and positively affecting plasma glucose. Another study showed positive benefits of both short and long-term use of sesame seed oil by hypertensive men.
Additionally, some of these same studies found that sesame seed oil increased potassium levels and reduced sodium levels in the blood, both important for heart health.
Not only are tomatoes filled with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, they offer a plethora of other health benefits. Several studies have shown tomatoes to have blood pressure lowering capabilities, sometimes reducing or even eliminating the need for prescription medications. Lycopene also assists in the prevention of several cardiovascular diseases, myocardial ischemia and atherosclerosis.
Additionally, lycopene has been associated with a lower mortality rate for people dealing with metabolic syndrome, a combination of disorders that eventually leads to heart disease.
Not only does 100 percent pomegranate juice have the ability to lower blood pressure naturally, it’s also one of the healthiest juices you can drink. Several short and long-term studies back this up.
In other studies, pomegranate juice has also been shown to reduce blood pressure in patients dealing with diabetes and carotid artery disease.
Celery and celery root have been used by doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than a century.
Dr. Mark Houston, a physician and medical director of the Hypertension Institute of Nashville at Saint Thomas Hospital, regularly recommends celery to his patients. He says four stalks per day may be all it takes to naturally lower blood pressure.
Research has shown that celery seed can lower blood pressure. One study discovered that cooked celery may be more effective than raw celery in lowering blood pressure. Celery also acts as a natural diuretic.
Coriander, also referred to as cilantro or Chinese parsley, adds a unique flavor to many different types of cuisine. Some people find its flavor distasteful and describe it as having a soapy taste; while others absolutely love the flavor it imparts to food.
It has been used traditionally to treat a number of medical conditions, and a recent study found that it has a positive impact on blood pressure, plus many other health benefits.
Leafy greens are a great source of potassium. Potassium assists your kidneys in eliminating sodium from your body through your urine, which in turn lowers blood pressure. Avoid canned greens, which often contain added sodium. Fresh or frozen are your best choices.
Bananas are another great source of potassium, and they are also high in fiber. By blending bananas, leafy greens and almond milk into a green smoothie drink, you’ll create a potent elixir for cardiovascular health.
Although not a specific food, fiber cannot be ignored in the fight against hypertension. In fact, researchers tallied the results of 25 studies and found that a high fiber diet was associated with a significant decrease in blood pressure levels of hypertensive individuals.
Check out the Mayo Clinic’s High Fiber Foods Chart to add more fiber to your diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
After pooling data from 70 randomized clinical trials, it’s confirmed that omega-3 fatty acids support brain function, reduce inflammation and enhance cardiovascular health. The results also determined that omega-3s may be more beneficial than salt restriction for lowering blood pressure.
Omega-3 rich foods should be consumed several times a week. See WebMD’s list of the seafood and dairy products you should be adding to your shopping cart.
Closing thoughts …
By adding these foods to your diet, and by implementing other lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity, reducing salt intake and limiting alcohol consumption, you’re sure to see positive changes in your overall health. Be sure to check with your doctor before making any drastic dietary or lifestyle changes.
At The Vista, our motto is ‘Live Well. Stay Well’. It’s our belief that exercise and nutrition, and therefore a healthy body, are important keys to living a rich life, and we hope this information will have a positive impact on your diet. If you would like to learn more about the active lifestyle planned at our community, please give us a call.