Diet

The Best Diet for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension refers to the force of blood pushing against your artery walls as it runs through your body. Too much of this type of pressure on the arteries can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke. Normal blood pressure is defined as LESS then 120 over 80. High blood pressure often produces no symptoms until some type of complication occurs. In fact this is the reason this health condition is sometimes called, “the silent killer”. The only symptoms that might occur are ones in people with extreme readings, which would put a person in a hypertensive crisis. These may include severe headaches, severe anxiety, shortness of breath and nosebleeds. These would only be in extreme cases and emergency medical treatment would be necessary. The only way for most people to know for sure if they have high blood pressure is to visit their doctor and have it taken on a regular basis. ALL people should know their blood pressure numbers.







Factors that can contribute to Hypertension:
• Smoking
• Metabolic disorders
• Over 55 years of age
• African American
• Stress
• Obesity/overweight
• Family history of hypertension, heart disease and/or diabetes
• High sodium intake
• Excessive consumption of alcohol
• Over consumption of fast food and other foods containing saturated fats
• Sleep Apnea
• Excessive use of strong medicines like pain killers and illegal drugs

One popular diet plan used to treat hypertension is called the “DASH” (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This eating plan follows heart healthy guidelines and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol as well as total fat. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products. The DASH diet also includes whole grains foods, fish, poultry and nuts. The plan limits lean red meats, sweets, added sugars and sugar containing beverages. It is rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium as well as protein and fiber and is low in sodium.

Key foods to help fight against hypertension:

Spinach
Spinach is rich in fiber and heart-healthy nutrients such as magnesium, folate and potassium as well as calcium. These nutrients can help to lower and maintain blood pressure levels. As a bonus, spinach is also low in calories.

Tomatoes
This vegetable contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been found to lower the risk of heart disease.

Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is not only delicious – it can also be healthy. According to Journal of the American Medical Association eating one tiny square (30 calories) of dark chocolate per day can lower your blood pressure after eighteen weeks along with a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle. The best type of dark chocolate is that consisting of 70 percent cocoa powder or more. However be aware that chocolate is high in calories so do not overdo it.
• Sweet potatoes
These tasty potatoes are packed with heart healthy antioxidants, vitamin A and fiber.







• Fat-free milk
Drinking plenty of fat-free or one percent milk will greatly help reduce the amount of saturated fat you consume and increase your intake of heart healthy vitamin D and calcium. These two nutrients can help reduce blood pressure by 3 to 10 percent.

• Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes are rich in beta-carotene and potassium, both of which are heart healthy. Add them to fruit salads or eat them plain for a sweet healthy treat

• Beans
Beans are full of potassium, magnesium and soluble fiber, all of which can help to improve your overall heart health and of course lower blood pressure. Add them to wraps, soups or salads – they are quite cheap and can be very filling.

• Sunflower seeds
These little seeds are a great source of magnesium and vitamin E, both of which are essential for preventing heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Choose unsalted sunflower seeds to avoid too much sodium.

• Collards, kale (leafy greens)
Leafy greens are are packed with vitamin A and fiber and are low in sugar and sodium. According to experts, inorganic nitrates, which are found in leafy greens can relax the blood vessels and therefore allow blood to flow more freely.

• Other foods
There are plenty of other healthy foods that can help you lower your blood pressure. Soybeans are rich in magnesium and potassium. Green peas contain loads of nutrients as well as fiber. Bananas are high in potassium and can also help remove excess sodium from the body. Winter squash is packed with vitamin A, beta-carotene and fiber. Berries have nutritional properties to help prevent hypertension. And the list goes on! Stick to a healthy and varied diet and you are on your way to better heart health.

What to limit or avoid:

• Salt/Sodium
Unfortunately there is no one rule for all people when it comes to sodium intake and hypertension. For some people too much sodium may lead to high blood pressure where in others there are no effects. The problem is that most of us don’t know whether we are sensitive to sodium in this way so experts recommend that everyone reduce their sodium intake, especially those who already have high blood pressure.

• The Bad Fats
Saturated fat and trans fat are bad for both blood vessels and heart health. A healthy balanced diet should include moderate amounts of fats in the form of the healthier fats including monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega fats and should severely limit saturated and trans fat.

• Alcohol
If you suffer from hypertension, you should avoid alcohol. According to experts low levels of alcohol intake, usually in the form of red wines, can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and protect your heart. However a high level of alcohol consumption directly raises blood pressure and can lead to damage of the blood vessels walls.
High blood pressure is a serious condition that can be very dangerous to your health and your life. Have your blood pressure checked regularly and consult your doctor. Proper diet along with weight control and exercise are just the first steps to fight against hypertension.

References

High Blood Pressure/Hypertension Health Center:
http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/default.htm
What Is High Blood Pressure:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/
Your Guide To Lowering High Blood Pressure:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/
American Heart Association:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/High-Blood-Pressure-or-Hypertension_UCM_002020_SubHomePage.jsp
Your Guide To Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf

1 response to The Best Diet for High Blood Pressure

  1. Very good list. I would add:
    -Kidney beans and black beans as foods high in L-Arginine, needed for relaxation of the blood vessel walls
    – Celery
    – Watermelon.

    Cheers,
    Olga

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