Discover the secrets of obtaining optimal health and nutrition!
High Blood Pressure or HBP is a modern-day lifestyle disorder that affects a high proportion of the adult population in almost all countries around the world. For instance, in USA, roughly 70 million adults suffer from hypertension which represents approximately 29% of the total population. Simply put, out of every 3 individuals, 1 person is beset with HBP in the North American nation (1). If you’re someone who has been diagnosed with high systolic/diastolic pressures that lie within the 120/80-139/89 range, then there’s a lot you can do to bring back your BP to normal levels.
Apart from taking the appropriate dosage of medications (as prescribed by the physician or GP) at fixed intervals, you can bring about wholesale or large-scale changes in your food habits. You may be knowing that what you eat has a significant bearing on whether your blood pressure stays normal or shoots up to abnormally high levels. We’re all leading extremely fast-paced lives that results in stress which contributes to the escalation of blood pressure in a big way thereby making us hypertensive (2).
Then again, undue or excessive stress causes us to indulge in bingeing on fast foods or processed foods that are laced with sodium and preservatives. Then again, a great majority of those who’re hypertensive tend to drink and smoke so as to cope with stress. Unfortunately, unwarranted smoking and drinking only exacerbates stress making the individual more anxious and ultimately making his or her blood pressure shoot up (3).
Consuming too much of table salt, red meat, foods processed from animal protein, sugary foods, and fried food items also acts as catalysts towards spiking up normal blood pressure. Sodium chloride or table salt is the main culprit which boosts your BP and is closely followed by sugar that excites extra insulin production for the sake of glucose breakdown. More often than not, you unknowingly take in more sugars than your body needs on a daily basis through your impulsive snacking habits (4).
Different varieties of fast and/or processed foods contain an anomalously high amount of artificial sugars like dextrose, maltose, sucrose, glucose and fructose. Even stepped-up production of insulin is unable to convert these artificial sugars into the form that the body can ingest and release into the bloodstream. Unconverted sugars get deposited in the body as fat that line up on your waist and thighs thereby making you overweight or obese.
Fat accumulation can gradually lead to hardening and narrowing of the arterial walls forcing the heart to work harder to pump the blood out ultimately resulting in the hiking up of blood pressure. Trans-fats and saturated fats are two other unhealthy elements that have an adverse impact on your blood pressure. So, it can be safely asserted that reducing or forsaking the consumption of foods or food items that jeopardize your health can go a long way in helping you to keep your blood pressure under control.
Get into the habit of consuming natural, plant-based foods items that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables as well as dishes prepared from them will adequately meet your body’s diurnal requirement of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K as well as minerals, especially potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Following are some nutritious and wholesome natural foods that individuals with HBP can start introducing into their regular diets on a gradual basis.
A cupful of plain yoghurt can work wonders for your health and at the same time keep your blood pressure within bounds. One cup of yogurt from which the fat has been skimmed off, supplies you with 18%, 12% and 49% of your body’s every day need of potassium, magnesium, and calcium respectively. Yoghurt is not only rich in nutrients but also delight your taste-buds hugely. You can have yogurt with your breakfast comprising freshly diced fruits, two slices of brown bread, and one soft boiled egg.
Alternatively, you can add this milk byproduct to salad dressings and entrees or blend the same with two cupfuls of boiled rice or with corn flax. As a matter of fact, there are near endless ways of integrating yogurt to your daily meals. Though, you’ll come across a few plain yogurt brands in your local supermarket, you’ll be much better off preparing it in your home. That way, you’ll be able to ensure that fat-free yogurt is going inside your mouth (5).
White beans, again are a good source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Munching into a cupful of white beans will furnish you with 24%, 30%, and 13% of the body’s need for magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Alternatively, you can blend white beans in appetizers, entrees, soups, and side dishes. White beans are a very rich source of protein and is therefore a favorite food of vegans (6).
Consuming leafy vegetables including but not limited to turnip, kale, lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, collard, and parsley will help to maintain the mineral balance in your body. Eating more of leafy veggies will help to flush out excessive or superfluous sodium from the body and help maintain a steady blood pressure in the long run. Buy and stock fresh veggies in the refrigerators so that you can prepare a quick curry or a salad dressing during the weekend. Avoid purchasing canned veggies as these are laced with sodium and preservatives (6).
Blueberries along with strawberries and raspberries are laden with a special type of natural compound called anthocyanins that is classed under their parent molecules known as flavonoids. A bunch of blueberries would be enough to bring down your blood pressure considerably within the space of 4-5 days. Other foods that are rich sources of anthocyanins are Norton grapes, Concord grapes, cherry, blood orange, black raspberry, purple corn, and red cabbage (7).
You can make out tilapia by its mild whitish appearance that is available throughout the year in fish markets and supermarkets. You can either procure the tilapia fresh from the market or buy the frozen packets. 4 ounces or roughly 112g of tilapia contains 8% of potassium and magnesium that your body needs on a daily basis. There are so many ways in which your savor this fish-sauté it, bake it or roast it, and thereafter add seasonings or garnishing to make it more appealing for your palates (8).
This is one delectable fruit that you can either tuck into by slicing it up or make a lip-smacking smoothie and gulp down the entire glass at one go. Nectarines are laden with potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Cereals can help to contain your galloping blood pressure as well as assist in reducing it substantially provided you consume them on a routine basis. Make it mandatory to feast on a bowlful of cereals every morning during breakfast. There are numerous cereal options you’ve including oatmeal, shredded wheat, bran flakes, and cornmeal. Borderline hypertensive individuals can greatly bring down their chances of having HBP if they consume a bowlful every week. Topping the cereal bowl with helpings of raspberries or blueberries will be an extra incentive (9).
Bananas are one of the richest sources of potassium and so you can have a banana or two during breakfast or even after your lunch. Though a whole lot of banana supplements are available both online and offline, it is better to steer clear of these. There is no alternative to fresh yellow Chiquita bananas and consume the same before these turn blackish brown. You can make a glass of smoothie by peeling the skin, freezing the fruit, and then churning it in a food processor (10).
Potatoes are richly endowed with magnesium and potassium as well as infused with fibers that promote metabolism and prevent constipation. Magnesium and potassium are two minerals that can aid in keeping blood pressure within controllable levels. Eat a whole baked potato by de-peeling it partially and garnish the same with processed butter or cheese or table salt. However, you can add tomato puree or salsa for rendering it palatable or layer it with dollops of yogurt.
It may sound incredible but it’s true that if you down a glass of beetroot juice can bring down your blood pressure within 3-4 hours! Beetroot has an ample proportion of nitrate that has a becalming affect on your nerves. Sipping on a glassful of beetroot juice is tantamount to taking nitrate tablets or pills minus the side effects. You can source the juice from large grocery stores as well as from supermarkets that have shops stocking health foods. You can have your fill of other nitrate-rich foods including carrots, cabbage, lettuce, and spinach (7).
Oatmeal perfectly qualify as a low-fat, low-sodium, and fiber-rich natural food that can be extremely effective in lowering your blood pressure. Have a bowlful of oatmeal almost every day at breakfast time. Oatmeal might not appeal to your taste-buds because of its blandness. However, you can make it more palatable by adding milk and sugar and top it up with frozen or fresh cherries or raspberries.
Dairy products that are abundant in fats like butter and cheese do more harm than good, making you plump in the long run. So, it is time you replaced these high-fat dairy foods with low-fat or fat free skimmed dairy milk, yogurt, and curds. Skimmed, low-fat milk is good source of calcium that can help keep your bones and teeth strong as well as help you to keep your blood pressure under control.
As far as women are concerned, consuming dairy products that have a low fat content can considerably bring down their risk of becoming hypertensive.
According to a study conducted in 2000 on about 30,000 women, those females who consumed the maximum amount of dairy products that had a negligible or low-fat content like low-fat cottage cheese, plain yogurt, skimmed milk had a lesser likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
If you love munching into dark chocolates laced with cocoa, then you’d be delighted to know that these contain flavonoids that can help curb blood pressure. Just munch on a 1-ounce or 28g block of dark chocolate on a daily basis to keep your systolic or diastolic readings normal. Cocoa is endowed with flavonoids that function as super vasodilators keeping the blood vessels flexible and elastic enough for blood to pass smoothly through them. Go for dark chocolates that are laced with cocoa up to 70%.
Kale is one leafy vegetable that’s regarded as a super-food owing to its high content of alpha-linolenic acid and antioxidants. The antioxidants in kale are extremely effective in removing dead skin cells and repairing damaged ones by flushing out toxins and free radicals. Alpha-linolenic acid is beneficial, plant-based fat that prevents and reduces inflammation. Take about a handful of kale for blending in salad dressings or you can pulverize it for adding it to smoothies (12).
Broccoli is an incredibly nutritious veggie that’s packed with a range of vitamins and minerals which are essential for keeping yourself in the pink of health. Broccoli is highly effective in preventing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation and works as an excellent detoxification agent as well. Broccoli also keeps your cardiovascular system in sound health that in turn keeps your blood pressure normal (13). Broccolis are best consumed by preparing side dishes and cooked entrees or blending with salad ingredients (14).
A medium-sized sweet potato provides you with 15%, 8% and 4% of your daily requirement of potassium, magnesium, and calcium (without peeling the skin off). Sweet potatoes are rich in pressure-assuaging minerals and vitamins, and beta-carotenes that keep your heart in perfect condition. It goes without saying that a healthy heart can pump out blood more effectively than a weakened one. Consuming healthy portions of sweet potatoes will let you stay fit and trim.
If you’re diagnosed with HBP, then your everyday meals should be made up of dishes that have low trans-fat and saturated fat, less natural or artificial sugars, low cholesterol and salt.
One can have such meals (regardless of whether one is hypertensive or not) in order to remain healthy throughout the lifetime. So that your four square meals a day have the perfect balance of all healthy and nutritious food items, you can abide by any one of the following dieting plans or schemes (15).
Most hypertensive or HBP patients are recommended to follow the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) plan that emphasizes on heart-friendly food items and/or foods endowed with proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Again, such food items contain very low or negligible proportion of trans-fats or saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium. A DASH dieting scheme usually comprise of the following foods:-
The DASH food plan at the same time, suggests you to bring down your consumption of red meats, lean red meats, sugary beverages, processed and packaged foods containing a high percentage of sodium, sugars or preservatives. The above plan is for an adult who’s on a dieting program consuming at least 2000 calories per day (16).
Deaths occurring due to heart attacks and strokes are significantly lower in the Mediterranean and Iberian regions than demises in North American and mainland European nations. Following a Mediterranean dieting program is one of the factors that contribute to people in the abovementioned regions remaining healthier and suffering less strokes or heart attacks. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or EVOO sourced from the first pickings during the harvesting season is extensively used for sautéing, frying, cooking, and dressing salads.
Closing up, it can be confidently inferred that besides taking your medications regularly as per your physician’s recommendations and following a healthy lifestyle, making dietary changes is imperative for reining in high blood pressure. What you choose to eat on a daily basis can make a big difference to your systolic and diastolic pressures.