High blood pressure, or hypertension, is estimated to be responsible for 7+ million deaths every year worldwide. According to research, Western-style dietary habits are the number one reason for essential hypertension. Think about it: People living in rural areas of China, Brazil, and Africa show no signs of hypertension, even with advanced age. There are foods that can help this condition and then there are foods that should absolutely be avoided. Read on to find the foods that improve your blood pressure!
Top 3 Foods to Choose:
You should eat a balanced array of fresh wholesome fruits and vegetables of all colors every day. The foods below will bring your blood pressure extra benefits.
Fish - Of all animal products, fish is the healthiest, owing to its high protein and low fat content. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish, along with other nutrients, protect blood vessels from plaque, reduce inflammation, and prevent high blood pressure. Flaxseeds, like fish, are full of omega-3 fatty acids that protect your blood vessels from plaque.
Celery juice - A time-tested Chinese remedy for high blood pressure is celery juice, which can be made with a blender or a juicer. Two to three 8 oz glasses a day for a month can help prevent high blood pressure or restore it to normal levels. In addition, celery is known to prevent gout and other arthritic conditions. Studies have found that this stalk is packed with over a dozen anti-inflammatory agents, including apigenin, a cox2-inhibiting compound similar to some anti-inflammatory drugs. Who knew celery was more than just a garnish?
Olive oil - Olive oil, long a staple of the Mediterranean diet, has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood lipids and may also lower blood pressure. According to a recent study, "Olive oil intake is inversely associated with both systolic and diastolic blood pressure." Translation: consuming more olive oil is linked with lowered blood pressure. Use olive oil for cooking and on salads.
Top 3 Foods to Avoid - And What to Choose Instead
In general, for healthy blood pressure cut back on salt, caffeine, white flour, alcohol, deep-fried food, nicotine, preservatives, sugars, and artificial flavoring and coloring. Specifically, here are the main offenders to avoid:
Salt - Sodium has long been implicated in chronic ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. Additionally, recent studies have shown that increased salt intake is proportional to an increase in cancers of the stomach, esophagus, and bladder.
Swap for: Herbs and spices - Your best choices are fennel, garlic, ginger, oregano, black pepper, basil and tarragon, all of which possess active ingredients that are beneficial for hypertension. Vinegar is another flavorful option.
Coffee - For people who don't consume caffeine on a regular basis, caffeine can cause a temporary but sharp rise in blood pressure. Exactly what causes this spike in blood pressure is uncertain. Some researchers have suggested that caffeine narrows blood vessels by blocking the effects of adenosine, a hormone that helps keep them widened. Caffeine may also stimulate the adrenal gland to release more cortisol and adrenaline, which causes your blood pressure to increase.
Swap for: Green tea - Scientific studies point to green tea as a food that can help reverse some of the risk factors associated with heart disease, including high blood pressure and abnormal blood clotting. Much of the research on green tea has been conducted in Japan, where men and women drink a high daily intake of green tea, and also have one of the lowest incidences of heart disease in the world.
Refined Sugar - The average American consumes nearly 240 pounds of sugar per year. Most of the excess sugar ends up being stored as fat in your body, resulting in weight gain and elevating your risk of heart disease and cancer. Sugar makes blood pressure rise, especially in people who are overweight.
Swap for: Honey - Honey contains vitamins and minerals that are lacking in refined table sugar, making it much healthier for you. Instead of refined sweets, go for the natural delicious flavors of fresh fruits and berries.
Turn to nature for support of optimum blood pressure and heart functions. High blood pressure is a condition with serious consequences; don't stop taking any prescribed medications and work with your physician before making drastic changes to your diet.