High blood pressure, also called hypertension, affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States. According to research, certain foods can lower blood pressure, both right away and in the long term.
Medications, dietary changes, and other lifestyle changes can lower high blood pressure while reducing the risk of associated conditions. High blood pressure increases a person’s risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Ten foods that help to lower blood pressure
Many researchers have found that certain foods can lower high blood pressure. Let’s look at these foods and how to combine them into a healthful diet.
Straw berries and blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which is an antioxidant and a type of flavonoid. Researchers conducted a large study with more than 34,000 people with high blood pressure. They discovered that those with the highest intake of anthocyanins, from blueberries and strawberries, had an 8 percent decrease in the risk of high blood pressure, compared to those with a low anthocyanin consumption. You can eat berries as a snack or sweet treat after meals, or add them to smoothies and oatmeal.
- Dark chocolate
A review of 15 trials suggests that chocolate reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension or prehypertension. Choose high-quality chocolate that contains a minimum of 70 percent cocoa, and consume a single square, or a piece measuring about 1 ounce, daily.
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Oats contain a fiber called beta-glucan, which research claims reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. A review of 28 trials concluded that higher consumption of beta-glucan fiber may lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. For breakfast, take a bowl of oatmeal, or use rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs to give texture to meat or vegetarian burger patties.
Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that plays an important role in managing hypertension. Potassium reduces the effects of sodium and eases tension in the walls of the blood vessels, according to the American Heart Association.
Adults should aim to consume 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium daily. Other foods rich in potassium include: mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, halibut, cantloupe, beans, and tuna. People with kidney disease should consult their doctors about potassium consumption, because excessive intake can be dangerous.
Consuming kiwis can reduce blood pressure in people with mildly raised levels, according to results of one study. The researchers also compared the effects of apples and kiwis on people with slightly high blood pressure.
They discovered that eating three kiwis a day for 8 weeks resulted in a more substantial reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, compared with eating one apple a day for the same period. The bioactive substances in kiwis was suspected to be responsible for the reduction. Kiwis can be added to lunches or smoothies.
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- Natural yogurt
According to the America Heart Association, yogurt may reduce the risk of high blood pressure in women. The research team found that middle-aged women who consumed five or more servings of yogurt weekly for 18–30 years expressed a 20 percent reduction in the risk of hypertension when compared to similarly aged women who rarely ate yogurt.
The men in the study did not appear to have the same benefits, but their yogurt consumptions seemed to be lower. Unsweetened yogurts, such as natural or Greek yogurts, contained more benefits. Yogurt can be eaten with fruit, nuts, or seeds for a healthful snack or dessert.
- Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables contain nitrates, which help to manage blood pressure. Some research suggests that eating 1–2 servings of vegetables rich in nitrate every day can reduce high blood pressure for up to 24 hours. Examples of leafy greens include: fennel, kale, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, and Swiss chard.
To consume a daily dose of green vegetables, stir spinach into curries and stews, sauté Swiss chard with garlic for a tasty dish, or bake a batch of kale chips.
Drinking 1 cup of pomegranate juice daily for 28 days can lower high blood pressure in the short term, according to the findings of a study from 2012. The researchers attributed this effect to the antioxidant content present in the fruit. Pomegranates can be enjoyed whole, but some people prefer the juice. When buying pre-packaged pomegranate juice, check to make sure that there is no added sugar.
Drinking beet juice can help lower blood pressure in the short and long terms. According to researchers, red beet juice led to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension who drank 250 milliliters, about 1 cup, of the juice every day for 4 weeks. The researchers noticed some positive effects within 24 hours.
In the study, those who drank 1 cup of the beet juice every day had an average drop in blood pressure of around 8/4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). For many, this change brought their blood pressure within the normal range. On average, a single blood pressure medication reduces levels by 9/5 mm Hg.
The researchers concluded that the high levels of inorganic nitrate in beet caused the reduction in blood pressure. Drink a glass of beet juice each day. Also, you can add beets to salads, or prepare the vegetables as a healthful side dish.
Cinnamon may also help to reduce blood pressure, at least in the short-term. This is according to an analysis of three studies. It indicated that cinnamon decreased short-term systolic blood pressure by 5.39 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.6 mm Hg. Add cinnamon to the diet by sprinkling it over oatmeal or freshly chopped fruit, as a substitute to sugar.
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