What affects nearly 70 million Americans? While you may think the answer could be any number of deadly diseases like cancer or diabetes, the culprit is actually high blood pressure. With one out of every three adults in the United States battling high blood pressure, it is even more alarming to note that only about half actually have their condition under control according to the CDC. With the nation spending more than $40 billion on high blood pressure, there is an obvious need for Americans to learn how to cope better with the condition.
According to a plethora of recent research, the answer to controlling high blood pressure, and possibly even overcoming it altogether, could be changing your relationship with food. Here are 10 of the best foods from three of the most popular dietary trends that you should be eating to help put a stop to your high blood pressure woes.
Plan the meal
According to research published in the Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases journal, a specific eating plan called the Portfolio diet may have all the answers you need to control your blood pressure. The study was primarily looking at the diet’s ability to lower cholesterol, but researchers discovered that blood pressure was a very strong secondary target of the healthy eating plan.
Study author Dr. David Jenkins stated that the diet has “been found to be as effective as the starting dose of the average single blood pressure medication, [and] overall, research has shown that plant-based diets emphasizing foods higher in protein, oil and fiber reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.” The diet promotes healthy eating with an emphasis on eating the following foods:
1. Leafy veggies: A great option is bok choy, which is high in potassium.
2. Mixed nuts: Opt for a nut that is high in monounsaturated fats like pistachios.
3. Soy protein: The isoflavones in soy products have the ability to widen arteries, which lowers blood pressure by allowing better overall blood flow.
4. Oats: The soluble fiber found in whole grain oats are key in lowering blood pressure.
Most experts have advised against a high protein diet for heart health and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Recent research published in the American Journal of Hypertension, however, has indicated that high protein diets could actually be the solution to high blood pressure (HBP) after all. Study author Lynn Moore stated that “protein intake may play a role in the long-term prevention of HBP, [and the] research on the vascular benefits of protein, including this study, suggest we need to revisit optimal protein intake for optimal heart health.” Here are some great options to try:
5. Eggs: A 2005 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate one to three eggs per week lowered the chances of getting high blood pressure by 11 to 21%.
6. Dairy: People with long-term exposure to high protein diets of more than 100 grams each day with an emphasis on dairy have been shown to have a 40% less chance in developing high blood pressure.
7. Fish: Numerous studies have shown that fatty fish like salmon that are high in omega-3 oils are beneficial for lowering blood pressure.
8. Lean beef: If protein is the answer, then lean beef will have to be part of your solution as it is one of the best sources available. Research published in the Journal of Hypertension indicated that daily consumption could stave off high blood pressure for most adults.
When people lose weight, they usually also enjoy the added bonus of lowering their blood pressure. New research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that while that phenomenon may be true, a low carb diet can enhance weight loss and blood pressure at the same time. Study author Dr. William S. Yancy, Jr. stated that, “If people have high blood pressure and a weight problem, a low-carbohydrate diet might be a better option than a weight loss medication.” In fact, Yancy concluded by stating: “We were surprised to see blood pressure improve so much more with the low-carbohydrate diet.”
9. Water: While it may be a no-brainer, swapping out sugary, high-carb drinks for water is a great way to lower your carbohydrate intake. Also, when you’re dehydrated your blood vessels are prone to constricting tighter than normal. This can result in your heart working harder to pump blood, ultimately resulting in higher blood pressure.
10. Cocoa powder: Got a sweet tooth? Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that unsweetened cocoa powder can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.
In 2013, almost 1,000 Americans died every day as a direct or secondary result of high blood pressure. The condition is a precursor to a multitude of other serious health conditions like heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease. A normal blood pressure range is a reading of less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic. Be proactive about your blood pressure and ask your physician to check it and help you create a diet with the aforementioned foods, as well as an exercise regime that focuses on heart health to ensure that you live a long life, free of cardiovascular disease.