Hypertension, more popularly known as high blood pressure, affects millions of Americans. It’s a persistent problem that only seems to get worse with growing access to highly processed, high-fat, and high-salt fast foods.
The good news is that there are many healthy foods that can help us bring down our blood pressure levels and overcome hypertension. So, don’t despair if your doctor tells you your blood pressure is too high—just look for these foods at your local grocery store…
Blueberries aren’t just a delicious, sweet addition to your morning cereal or fruit salad—they’re also packed with antioxidants that can help in the fight against serious illnesses, including cancer.
But that’s not all! Blueberries, along with raspberries and strawberries, contain anthocyanins that have been shown to help in the fight against hypertension. In fact, studies have shown that fruits containing anthocyanins help people with hypertension significantly lower their blood pressure levels.
The potato is one of the most durable and—when prepared correctly—delicious and healthy foods in the world. But did you know that this veggie can actually help to lower your blood pressure and help you overcome hypertension?
Potatoes are packed with potassium and magnesium, according to the American Heart Association, minerals that can help in the fight against hypertension. Many older adults fail to get enough of these minerals (particularly magnesium) in their diets, compounding the problems associated with high blood pressure. So, next time you’re looking for a healthy side, bake a potato (just keep the butter to a minimum)!
Most of us begin our lives with steady and consistent access to milk—first, through our mothers, and later, through cow’s milk purchased at the local grocery store. Unfortunately, too many of us cut back our milk consumption as we get older and this can be a problem for people with hypertension.
Here’s the thing: studies have shown that individuals who consume lots of high-calcium and low-fat dairy products (i.e., yogurt to cottage cheese and skim milk) significantly reduced their risk of developing high blood pressure.
Studies, like this one from WebMD.com, show that a diet featuring high-fibre, whole-grain foods can help lower cholesterol and reduce the health consequences of hypertension. Cereal is a great way to get that fiber.
Of course, the key is finding a high-fiber cereal. Many types of cereal contain lots of sugar, but very little fiber. Make sure to check the nutritional information before taking that box of cereal home with you.
Beets: you either love them or you hate them. But regardless of where you stand on their taste, there’s no denying that beets are great for lowering blood pressure and the health threats associated with hypertension.
In fact, a recent Queen Mary University of London study published by an American Heart Association journal showed that the nitrate found in beet juice can have a direct and significant effect on blood pressure.
6. Dark Chocolate
Rarely will doctors recommend their patients eat candy bars, but that’s actually the case when it comes to dark chocolate. You see, the flavonoids in dark chocolate can help to lower blood pressure, making this a very healthy snack for people struggling with hypertension.
Of course, this shouldn’t be seen as a blank cheque to go eating copious amounts of chocolate. Also, the flavonoids that do the good work are really only found in dark chocolate and not the (arguably) more popular milk chocolate.
A key part of reducing blood pressure involves stepping up the intake of potassium. And what readily available and affordable food contains loads of potassium? Bananas, of course.
Of course, it’s important to recognize that bananas do contain a significant amount of (natural) sugar and calories, so don’t over-indulge in them. Try adding banana slices to your morning cereal or eating one as dessert after a meal.
Avocadoes are all the rage, what with the healthy monounsaturated fats packed underneath their thin outer skin. And no wonder, research has shown that a diet high in this type of fat can help lower blood pressure and reduce the health risks associated with hypertension.
Avocadoes make an excellent addition to just about any kind of savoury dish, from sandwiches to salads. Given their creamy texture (at least, when they’re ripe), they make an excellent substitution for mayonnaise.
9. Fatty Fish
We’re often recommended to eat lean proteins to reduce the amount of fat we consume in our diets. When it comes to reducing hypertension, it’s actually the opposite – in terms of fish! An article published in the journal Hypertension, Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure in people who are overweight or obese who consume these types of fish twice times a week.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to reduce inflammation and lower triglycerides. You can also take omega-3 supplements but it’s always best to consume nutrients naturally in food.
Research has shown that garlic is a great food that you can eat to naturally reduce blood pressure if you suffer from hypertension. This is because garlic contains allicin which is a sulphur compound that is formed from it being crushed, chopped or chewed, which assists in lowering supine systolic blood pressure and mean supine diastolic blood pressure. However, to obtain the maximum benefits of garlic to lower blood pressure, it is recommended that it be eaten raw.
Garlic is a great way to add flavour to your meal! Add some crushed up or minced garlic to oil and vinegar in a salad dressing, or with some cut up tomatoes in a fresh salsa.
11. Olive Oil
A great addition to add to your diet to assist with lowering blood pressure is olive oil – specifically extra virgin olive oil. Oils and fats are essential to cooking and to our daily diet so if you’re not already cooking with olive oil, it’s an easy switch to make!
A study published in the Clinical Nutrition Journal concluded that virgin olive oil helped reduce hypertension in elderly people. The studied showed that virgin olive oil reduced LDL cholesterol and reduced the systolic pressure of hypertensive patients. Olive oil, like the majority of healthy fats, stabilizes blood sugar levels. It also consists of antioxidants called polyphenols which is thought to be responsible for the drop in blood pressure for people suffering from hypertension.