When diagnosed with high blood pressure, most individuals are given strict orders to improve their diet and start exercising. When blood pressure is very high, the doctor may wish to start the patient on blood pressure-lowering medications. While eating healthy can help lower blood pressure over time, there are specific foods you can eat that will target high blood pressure and may quickly reverse the condition. Eating these foods will have the added benefit of aiding in weight loss, which in turn, will help lower blood pressure as well.
1. Whole Grains
Whole grains are grains that are still completely intact and have not undergone a refining process to remove the bran and germ components. Whole grains retain the entire grain kernel, making them higher in fiber and other nutrients than refined grains. One of the many health benefits associated with whole grains is a decrease in blood pressure. The high level of potassium and magnesium in whole grains is linked to lower blood pressure. Whole grains are believed to help with weight control because they keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. Examples of whole grain foods that are recommended for lowering blood pressure are oatmeal or oat bran muffins for breakfast, and healthy sandwiches made on whole grain bread for lunch.
2. Low-Fat Dairy
Dairy products are high in both calcium and vitamin D. These two nutrients boost each other’s health benefit and are more powerful at lowering blood pressure when consumed together. Calcium is not just recommended for children. Adults still need to maintain adequate calcium levels, and a calcium deficiency can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Eating dairy products that are low in fat, such as skim milk or fat-free yogurt, can help lower blood pressure significantly. To incorporate low-fat dairy into your meals, add skim milk to whole grain cereals for breakfast. For a healthy snack, add some fresh fruit and granola to a cup of fat-free yogurt.
Chock full of magnesium and folate, spinach is a powerful tool in the fight against high blood pressure. Not only can magnesium help lower blood pressure, but consuming it on a regular basis can help maintain healthy blood pressure and keep the number in check. Spinach is also a great choice for maintaining a healthy weight because it is so low in calories. Whether fresh, pre-packaged or frozen, spinach can be added to your diet in a variety of ways. For breakfast, add some fresh spinach leaves to an egg white and turkey wrap. Add fresh or packaged spinach leaves to just about any lunch salad and replace lettuce on sandwiches with fresh spinach leaves Toss some spinach leaves with other fresh veggies and add them to pasta dishes for a healthy dinner entree.
4. Nuts, Seeds and Beans
Also full of magnesium, unsalted sunflower seeds and other nuts are key ingredients in the fight against high blood pressure. Be sure to stay away from any salted varieties, as they are higher in sodium, a known risk factor for high blood pressure. Beans, including soybeans, are also high in potassium and fiber, and the combination of nutrients found in beans make them an excellent dietary choice for treating high blood pressure naturally. Nuts, seeds and beans can all easily be added to salads, soups and sandwiches. Edamame, soybeans that are still in the pod, can be boiled in minutes and taste great eaten straight out of the pod.
Known for being an excellent source of potassium, bananas can significantly impact blood pressure levels. When potassium levels in the body dip below recommended levels, the body will hang onto sodium, which in turn will raise blood pressure. Conversely, when potassium levels are high, the body will release stores of sodium, and lower blood pressure along with it. Eating bananas is a quick and easy way to keep potassium and sodium levels in a proper balance. Add sliced bananas to whole grain cereal or oatmeal for a heart healthy breakfast. For a healthy mid-day snack, add top whole grain bread with some peanut butter and banana slices or add frozen bananas to a fresh fruit and fat-free yogurt smoothie.
6. Baked Potatoes
Potatoes have gotten some bad press over the years. Known for being high in carbs, many people avoid this white vegetable for fear of gaining weight. If consumed in the proper context and properly prepared, potatoes can be a nutritious addition to a healthy diet plan. Potatoes are fat-free and cholesterol-free, and are a rich source of magnesium and fiber. Much like bananas, baked potatoes pack a whopping punch of potassium into every serving. Eating baked potatoes can help lower blood pressure by helping to keep potassium levels high and sodium levels low. Enjoy baked potatoes alone, or with a spoonful of fat-free sour cream. For added flavor, add some fresh minced garlic or freshly chopped chives.
7. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is gaining recognition in the world of health food. Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is very high in antioxidants and vital nutrients. Just one ½ ounce serving of dark chocolate a day may help to bring blood pressure levels back down to the normal range. Although the connection between dark chocolate and lower blood pressure has not been established, it is believed that the antioxidants in the chocolate can help eliminate free radicals in the body, thereby improving overall heart health. It is important that only a small amount of chocolate should be eaten each day, as it is a high calorie food that can lead to weight gain if too much is consumed. Nibble on dark chocolate bars or try grating some chocolate shavings over fat-free yogurt, fat-free ice cream or your favorite cup of decaffeinated tea.
Salmon is an excellent lean protein choice that can help lower blood pressure numbers. In addition to being high in protein, salmon contains a large amount of vitamin D. Salmon is also low in fat, and the fats that are present are the healthy kind. To maintain all of the health benefits of Salmon, it is important to remember to select healthy preparation techniques such as grilling, broiling or baking. Add flavor without adding sodium by brushing on some olive oil and adding a sprinkling of black pepper.
9. Green Tea
Though there are not a lot of studies to prove the theory, many natural health practitioners recommend drinking green tea to help lower blood pressure. Not only is it believed to help lower blood pressure, but there are some promising studies that suggest regular consumption of green tea can help keep blood pressure levels in the normal range. The theory is that the polyphenols in tea are high in antioxidants that help protect the heart and fight off free radicals that can elevate blood. Try a cup of hot green tea in place of your morning coffee. Because green tea is low in caffeine, enjoy a cup after dinner to help unwind.
Much like potatoes, in the past, avocadoes were labeled as a high fat food to avoid. Avocadoes are high in monounsaturated fat, which is the healthy fat that we all should be consuming in moderation. Heart healthy monounsaturated fats are high in antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin B6, magnesium and folic acid. Another surprising fact most people don’t know is that avocadoes contain more potassium than bananas. This combination of nutrients is what makes avocadoes a healthy blood pressure lowering food. Add fresh avocado slices to salads, sandwiches and wraps. Mash up some avocadoes and add some fresh diced tomatoes, fresh chopped garlic and a splash of fresh lime juice to make a healthy guacamole dip.