According to Statistics Canada, one in four Canadian adults has high blood pressure. In America, the rate is even higher.It is not overstating the issue to say that hypertension has become a global health problem, as more and more nations struggle with soaring obesity rates, even in young children.Is the scenario all doom and gloom? No, not if you begin making smarter choices about what you eat and what you serve to your family at mealtimes.There is nothing wrong with ordering pizza on a Friday night while everyone is watching a movie together, of course. But to lower your blood pressure (or your partner’s — men are more likely to be afflicted with it at a young age than women, but after age 60, the gap closes), the key is changing your diet and avoiding processed, packaged foods.A cleaner diet filled with whole foods and nutritious snacks is how you can lower your blood pressure and ensure that those around you don’t develop the problem in the first place. This article offers some guidelines on the foods that scientists and nutritionists say are best for fighting high blood pressure.Choosing some (or all!) when you’re preparing meals each day is the smart way to deal with your or a loved one’s high blood pressure before the need for medication becomes mandatory. If it does, eating properly just might help you get off medication altogether, a worthy goal if you’re hoping to live drug-free as long as possible. A diet that helps fight high blood pressure isn’t only about eating the right foods. It’s also about what you don’t eat – primarily too much salt and sodium. That means avoiding very salty snacks and processed foods, like potato chips and other tempting treats. And don’t reach for the salt shaker when dinner is served. We offer some suggestions on that front, too – what to indulge in when you’re binging on Netflix and in the mood for nibbling on a little something! If you don’t have any of the following foods in your fridge and pantry, it’s time for a makeover of both so that you can begin your journey to healthier eating and lower blood pressure.
1- Lots Of Fish, But With A Caveat
If you love seafood and all types of fish, you’re already making good choices. However, avoid salty fish, like sardines that are packed in oil and sodium.Opt for tuna packed in water, the low sodium variety, and plenty of fatty fish like salmon. These are loaded with omega-3s, which scientists say reduce inflammation and may fight high blood pressure. Rich seafood like crab and lobster is fine on occasion, but don’t drown them in butter!
2- Eats Your Fruits – Especially Citrus
Research shows that citrus fruits, including limes, lemons and grapefruits, have plenty of benefits in the fight against high blood pressure.Science says that because these fruits are so packed with vitamins and minerals, eating lots of them helps keep your heart healthy. So, even if you’re not a fan of a slice of lemon in your soda water, find recipes for salad dressings that use a squeeze of fresh citrus.Grapefruit juice in the morning is another way to get some daily citrus benefits, but be sure you avoid brands loaded with sugar.
3- Choose Dark Chocolate When Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth
You’ll be relieved to hear that you need not abandon all sweets in the trash bin! But choosing the right one is essential, so opt for dark chocolate with a minimum of 70 percent cocoa. Pair it with a bowl of fresh berries, and you won’t miss other desserts in the least.
4- Lots Of Crunchy, Green Vegetables Throughout The Day
Not only do certain vegetables lower blood pressure, but research shows they are also loaded with fiber that keeps your colon clean and efficient.Leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are the best choices for heart health. Recipes for salads made with these veggies abound online, so do a little investigating, and you’re bound to find a few that appeal.Studies show that even a slight increase in potassium intake in people with hypertension (which leafy green veggies are filled with) directly impacts lowering blood pressure. And they taste pretty great, too.
5- Bananas Are A wise Choice Too
If you enjoy a bowl of cereal for breakfast, start slicing up half a banana to put on top. Bananas are also packed with potassium, and like those leafy green veggies, they impact the heart in a good way. However, one caveat: if you have any kidney issues, talk to your physician about what foods to limit – the list may include bananas and tomatoes. Increasing potassium intake too much can have a negative effect on people with renal problems.
6- Beans & Lentils
Both offer significant benefits when you’re trying to control high blood pressure. They are loaded with magnesium, vitamins, fiber and potassium.
7- Nuts & Seeds
Instead of snacking on salty potato chips, reach for a bowl of unsalted nuts and seeds, in particular pumpkin seeds, cashews and pistachios. They are high in calories and fat, so don’t overindulge, but the health benefits are many. All are packed with many nutrients, including vitamins, fiber and potassium.
8- Berries Of All Types
The benefits of eating berries are well documented. Not only do they help fight high blood pressure, blueberries, in particular, are demonstrating benefits in the fight against dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.A bowl of berries each day, or a few berries on your morning cereal along with half a banana, and you’re almost meeting your daily requirement for vitamins, potassium and other nutrients.
9- More Beets, Please!
Beets are one of those root crops that seems to inspire utter devotion or complete loathing in most folks. But there is no denying that beets are a winner in the battle against hypertension. They also have plenty of potassium, along with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.If you truly can’t stand the taste and texture of the real thing, try having a small glass of beet juice each day. As long as it isn’t filled with sugar or other sweeteners, the health benefits are the same as eating them fresh.
Not a fatty fish like salmon, yet halibut has all the heart-smart, hypertension reducing benefits of its fattier cousin. Halibut can be expensive, but having it even once every two weeks goes a long way toward giving your body the nutrients it needs in the battle against high blood pressure.
Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrolline, which studies are showing to help in the process of encouraging blood vessels to relax, thereby allowing blood to flow more easily.One study showed that adults who consumed watermelon extract showed a significant reduction in swelling in some arteries. It also lowers their cholesterol levels, which can aid in lowering blood pressure. If, for any reason, you aren’t a fan of this delicious summer fruit, try putting it in your morning smoothie. The same goes for kiwi fruit, which has many similar benefits.
12- Oats & Other Whole Grains
Remember the days when every family started their winter mornings with steaming hot bowls of oatmeal made from scratch? We don’t either, really, but nutritionists say we should get back there!Whole oats brim with fiber and potassium, both of which may help lower blood pressure. Instead of having a slice of toast, please take 10 minutes and make oatmeal for yourself and the family, so everyone starts their day with a serving of this high blood pressure fighting food.
Ah, garlic – is there a more delicious food that suits just about every savoury dish you make for supper? Now you can rest easy knowing that garlic is almost a “superfood” when it comes to fighting high blood pressure.Garlic ups the body’s production of nitric oxide, which in turn helps muscles relax and blood vessels to dilate. Those functions lower blood pressure. So, not only does your spaghetti taste great, it’s helping your body fight hypertension too.
There are other foods that help in the fight against high blood pressure, but this list gets you headed in the right direction when you’re planning your next batch of suppertime menus. The goal is simple: eat fresh, natural food as much and as often as possible.Cut out processed foods entirely from your diet, if you can, or restrict your intake of it too, for example, that Friday night pizza we mentioned earlier. Don’t add salt to your food once it’s on the dinner table. And limit your snacks to nuts, seeds and fresh fruits.Does that sound like a tall order? It’s not when you consider that lowering your blood pressure and keeping your heart healthy are the most significant contributing factors to a long life. Doesn’t that make ditching fast foods and prepackaged snacks worth it? We think so, too!