Hypertension, which is another term for high blood pressure, is one of the most (if not the most) dreaded diseases the world over. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in three Americans suffers from hypertension.
Normally, blood pressure should read 120 (systolic pressure) over 80 (diastolic pressure), but if your reading is consistently high on both counts, then you should pay your doctor a visit.
Hypertension is called the “silent killer,” which indicates one of the most dangerous aspects of the disease – you may not be aware that you have it.
Many factors and foods can affect blood pressure. Armed with this knowledge, you should resolve to prepare your own “blood pressure diet plan” by giving importance to foods rich in antioxidants. Here are some of the so-called superfoods (foods with supposed health benefits) known to be effective in preventing hypertension:
One of the most common superfoods associated with hypertension is garlic, which is antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial in nature. Aside from its capability to make our food more aromatic, garlic is also widely used by patients in many parts of the world because of its blood pressure lowering effects.
One of the most essential functions of this superfood is that it stimulates the development of hydrogen sulfide and nitric oxide in the body, which are known to dilate the muscles of the blood vessels, helping these relax. A substance found in garlic known as adenosine, is said to lower high blood pressure.
Garlic is composed of allicin (a bioactive compound that is responsible for its strong taste and smell) and hydrogen that helps a lot in minimizing cholesterol levels and alleviating high blood pressure. Aside from those benefits, garlic also helps in keeping blood platelets from sticking together, therefore reducing the risk of blot clots. Some studies say it may also have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and even cholesterol-lowering effects.
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach have many benefits in the body because it provides many essential nutrients such as protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. Spinach is typically low in sodium, making it a healthy option for people who need to lower their blood pressure and those who suffer from diabetes. High sodium content in food results in an increase in high blood pressure. Therefore, high potassium content found in spinach is highly essential to those with high blood pressure because it helps negate the effects of sodium in the body. So remember, people with hypertension need high potassium and low sodium diet.
Aside from potassium, another nutrient found in spinach which also helps to improve blood pressure and help relax blood vessels is folate. Other benefits of spinach besides helping lower blood pressure is that it also prevents cancer and asthma, helps in managing diabetes, and promotes healthy skin, hair, and bones.
Calcium and vitamin D are two nutrients that work together as a team to lower blood pressure by 3-10%. Skim milk happens to be an excellent source of these two nutrients. Among all the types of milk in the market, skim milk is the best option for health conscious individuals because it contains less fat. Thus, drinking a glass of skim milk every day increases your chances of having reduced blood pressure. Plus, it also aids in weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight.
In fact, researchers have discovered that individuals who consume low-fat milk have less chances of developing hypertension as compared to people who consume fewer dairy products.
Aside from Calcium and vitamin D, skim milk is also rich in protein, other vitamins, and minerals, but not a lot of fat. These are all equally important in maintaining not just a lowered blood pressure but the overall health condition of the body.
The Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) requires 3 cups of dairy products each day. Just make it a point to choose non-fat dairy products to avoid artery-clogging saturated fats.
When it comes to home remedies, lemon is probably one of the most readily available products in your kitchen. It has a wide range of uses from cleaning to curing illnesses.
Lemons are packed with folate, potassium, and natural citrus bioflavonoids that have important roles to fill in keeping you healthy and supporting your metabolism. Hence, it should always be included in your daily consumption. It has about 326mg of potassium, which is popularly known to reduce blood pressure. Its other siblings, orange, and lime, are likewise great sources of calcium, vitamin A, potassium, folate, and phosphorus.
Daily consumption of orange juice daily delivers potassium. Experts recommend a daily cup of orange juice because it provides at least 100 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements.
To obtain the best effects of lemon in the body, experts suggest drinking a glass of warm lemon water each day on an empty stomach. This is done by mixing lemon juice in warm water, without salt or sugar for best results.
You call a food versatile when you find so many uses for it. It’s something you can cook, mix, add, or boil with just about anything. Beans are very versatile and nutritious at the same time. Whether it be lima, black, white, or kidney, they are excellent sources of fiber, magnesium, and potassium.
Potassium and fiber are both known to lower blood pressure. Beans contain a chockfull of these nutrients, and that’s why beans can enhance overall heart health and treat hypertension.
Research has been conducted to find out if there is a significant effect of eating a cup of legumes (190 grams) daily in lowering blood pressure. The results showed that the group of people who ate a low–glycemic diet plus one more cup of legumes daily had a significantly lowered blood pressure compared to the group who had a healthy diet with whole-wheat foods. However, both groups experienced benefits in blood glucose, blood fat and hemoglobin A1C levels.
Just like other fruits mentioned previously, banana is also considered a superfood because of the long list of benefits it gives to people. Just like spinach, bananas contain high amounts of potassium (more than 400mg in an average-sized banana) and low in sodium (only 1 mg) which makes it a good choice for people who needs to lower their blood pressure. Aside from lowering blood pressure, potassium together with sodium, aids in regulating heart function and fluid balance in the body.
Experts suggest eating two bananas daily improves blood pressure level. It is a cheaper and more readily available alternative to expensive drugs and their side-effects. According to a study conducted in India, the results showed that blood pressure level dropped by 10% in people who ate two bananas daily for just one week.
Moreover, hypertension isn’t the only thing that bananas can treat. Regular consumption of bananas can lower the risk of asthma and cancer, too.
Again, another healthier option for reducing blood pressure is oats. Doctors have long recommended oats or oatmeal as a good solution in lowering cholesterol. Apparently, a diet high in fiber and whole grains helps keep blood pressure in check, and oatmeal happens to satisfy both dietary requirements.
A blood pressure reading has two numbers as you notice, for example, 120/80. The first number is your systolic pressure while the second number is your diastolic pressure. Daily consumption of oats helps lower systolic pressure by as much as 7.5 points and the diastolic pressure by as much as 5.5 points.
The USDA National Nutrient Database reports that there are about 10 grams of fiber, 352 milligrams of calcium, and 359 grams of potassium in every 100 grams of fortified oats. All three work together to effectively lower blood pressure numbers.
Try to include oats in at least one of your three meals a day. You can add low-fat milk like skim-milk but avoid adding sugar as much as possible. Opt for a healthier alternative, which is honey. If not, you can just add different fruits to add some flavor.
Melons are sure a hit during summer, maybe because it is truly refreshing. But did you know that aside from being one of the best fruits of summer, they also provide amazing health benefits? Melons contain 267 mg of potassium in every 100 grams (7% daily value). This amount is relatively high, which is good because it helps a lot in reducing blood pressure.
Recent studies show that watermelon (also a type of melon), reduces blood pressure levels in overweight individuals. These people are vulnerable to heart attacks. Good news because watermelons could also cut down the risk of heart attacks. Watermelon effectively reduces high blood pressure even when the person cold. Blood pressure tends to increase m ore when the person is cold because the hearts gets to work harder.
Additionally, melons are an excellent source of folate, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Even bitter melon is known to treat high blood pressure and is an alternative medicine for diabetes.
9. Flax seed
Flaxseed is known to be one of the best alternatives and inexpensive dietary addition to help decrease hypertension. It contains alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that slightly helps in lowering blood pressure. The alpha-linolenic acid relaxes blood vessels to allow blood to move freely, thereby preventing clogged arteries (which usually triggers hypertensive episodes).
Some Greek researchers held a 12-week study of 59 middle-aged men. They had the men consume flaxseed oil, and at the end of the research period, the men had significantly lower blood pressure readings.
Aside from improving levels of blood pressure, flaxseed is also used to treat conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract such as ongoing constipation, diarrhea, inflammation of the lining of large and small intestines and the stomach. It also aids in weight loss as well as improving kidney functions.
Hence, if you want to save yourself from hypertension, consider adding flaxseeds or flaxseed oil to your diet.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, and according to research, regular consumption of lycopene consistently reduces systolic blood pressure and risk of heart disease also decreases. Moreover, cholesterol levels in the body improve when lycopene is taken in excess of 25 milligrams per day.
A study in Israel was conducted involving patients who are being treated for hypertension but are not very well responsive to the medications. They had their patients take a supplement containing tomato extracts. The results showed a change in the blood pressure of the patients, which decreased significantly in just four weeks.
Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, calcium, and gamma-amino butyric acid, which are known to lower blood pressure levels. Try to add tomatoes in your diet as much as possible. There are lot of ways on how to include tomatoes in your diet. If you love salads with fresh cherry tomatoes, then you’re definitely not missing out.