Diet and Hypertension
A low-sodium diet has been the key to lowering hypertension, or chronically high blood pressure for years. Recent research has changed that thinking process and today we know there are additional nutrients including vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and other compounds, that can have just as much of an impact on regulating pressure.
Here are just a few of the many healthy superfoods that may be beneficial for blood pressure:
Due to their high dietary nitrate component, beets and beet juice, have been linked to reducing systolic blood pressure by mechanism of forming a powerful vasodilator. Other high-nitrate foods include collard greens, cress, lettuce, arugula, and spinach.
Quick Tip: Beets can be added to fresh blended juices, salads, pureed into soups or roasted in the oven for a yummy side dish at dinner.
Chocolate not only tastes delicious but with a high amount of flavonoids, it has a strong protective role in cardiovascular health.
Quick Tip: The darker the chocolate the more health benefits it provides. Look for at least 60% dark chocolate when purchasing.
While data is mixed on demonstrating a clear link between nut consumption and healthy blood pressure, studies do find a slight connection. These crunchy, popular snack-time food, offer up high concentrations of healthy fats, magnesium, and potassium which promote vaso-dilation, or widening of blood vessels.
Quick Tip: Look for salt-free versions, and buy them pre-portioned to avoid excessive and exorbitant consumption.
Still controversial, calcium-rich dairy foods such as yogurt, milk, and cheese may help lower blood pressure. One theory is that calcium itself is responsible, while other possibilities include production of bioactive peptides that have vasodilative effects when released into circulation.
Quick Tip: While the jury is still out on fat-content, opting for reduced-fat or at light versions of cheeses, yogurts, and milks are still recommend.
Recent findings showed a strong connecting between flaxseeds and blood pressure reduction. Several nutrients found in these tiny little seeds, including fiber, omega-3’s, lignans, and arginine-rich peptides all work together as antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory agents.
Quick Tip: Buy them ground or grind them yourself with a coffee grinder before eating for better absorption.
Used in cooking ad as a flavor enhancer, this high polyunsaturated fat and antioxidant-rich oil may stimulate nitric oxide production resulting in vasodilation and decreased ICAM activity.
Quick Tip: Use sparingly as just 1 measly tablespoon can pack in nearly 135 calories and 15g of fat.
From black, to green, to white, tea contains a large amount of flavonoids which act as powerful anti-hypertensive agents. Research shows that black teas and green teas have the strongest effect.
Quick Tip: Drink it hot and fresh for the most health benefits.
With a variety of many nutrients including vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, the high amounts of flavonoids found in blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries was associated with significantly reducing risk of hypertension in studies.
Quick Tip: Blueberries showed the most promising results especially when consumed in at least 1/2 cup serving per week.