Foods to Help Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a problem faced by many adults, with attendant symptoms like headaches, nausea, and chest pain making life difficult for those who suffer from hypertension. Of course, there are also heart attack and stroke to worry about if the condition goes untreated. And while you can certainly opt for medication as a means of bringing blood pressure to a manageable level, you should know that in most cases, there is a better alternative. For most people, it was food that caused the problem in the first place, and so it is fitting that the items you consume may also help you to get your cardiopulmonary system back on track, lowering your blood pressure and improving your overall health for good. Here are just a few key foods you can add to your diet to reduce hypertension.
- Bananas. Okay, so it’s not bananas in particular that lower blood pressure, but rather all foods that naturally contain high levels of potassium. In fact, papaya, guava, figs, and cantaloupe all contain more potassium per serving than a banana (although not all are as readily available). However, consuming any of these tasty fruits as a part of your regular diet is bound to help you improve your heart health. Chard, yams, avocados, and certain beans (lima, pinto) are also good options for those who prefer veggies.
- Garlic. If you thought an apple a day kept the doctor away, wait until you see what a clove of garlic can do. Studies have shown that adding the equivalent of one clove of garlic to your diet each day (most easily accomplished with a supplement) can lower your blood pressure almost as much as some prescriptions. The only drawback, of course, is the smell.
- Spinach. Not only does this leafy green contain essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that all of us need to enjoy a healthy life, it also contains potassium (which we have established as helping to lower blood pressure). Additionally, it offers heart-healthy magnesium and nitrates. If you have ever taken medication for you heart, it likely contains these same nitrates (but wouldn’t you rather obtain them through diet?).
- Extra virgin olive oil. This healthy oil is frequently used as part of a Mediterranean diet, which has proven to be one of the best in terms of heart health (showing the lowest levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, and so on). In addition to providing you with the healthy oils you need for proper digestion and other bodily functions, it has also been shown to reduce the need for prescription blood-pressure medication, cutting dosage in some patients by half when 3-4 tablespoons per day were added to the diet.
- Celery. This crunchy crudité often gets a bad rep for having little nutritional value, but it turns out that including it in your diet could help you to reduce your blood pressure by as much as 14%. Heart-happy phthalides that have been shown to reduce hypertension in rats can have the same effect on your system by causing the muscles around your arteries to relax, thereby decreasing pressure. Finally – a good reason to add this veggie to your shopping list (other than it makes a great snack when paired with peanut butter).
Although adding these items to your diet will certainly help, you should keep in mind that it is also essential to cut back on certain foods, particularly those that contain massive amounts of sodium and chemical additives and preservatives. If you’re still unsure about what you need to do to reduce hypertension and the risk of heart disease, contact your physician, a cardiac specialist, or even health testing centers in your area to secure the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your diet and your overall heart health.