Stirring some flax into your favorite smoothie or morning oatmeal could be the first step toward lowering your blood pressure. Flaxseed is a great source fiber, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation throughout the body and improve the health of your heart and circulatory system. Research conducted at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences even reveals that individuals who added omega-3s to their diets had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than their placebo-taking counterparts.
Swap out those refined sugar-loaded treats in favor of strawberries and watch your blood pressure dip into doctor-approved territory. Researchers at the University of Alberta’s Manzankowski Alberta Heart Institute have found resveratrol, a pigment found in red fruit like strawberries, effective at preventing hypertension and dangerous enlargement of the heart muscle in mice and rats. Though this hasn’t been proven in humans yet, strawberries are still a healthy food to add to your hypertension-fighting diet.
Leafy greens, like spinach and kale, may help reduce blood pressure, thanks to magnesium. Research has found taking 300 milligrams of the mineral a day for one month can elevate blood magnesium levels and reduce blood pressure. Furthermore, a press release on the research reads, “High magnesium levels in the blood were linked to improvements in blood flow, another factor associated with lowered blood pressure.” Additional foods that are high in magnesium include whole grains, beans, and nuts.
Making some stuffed peppers for dinner tonight could be the first step on a journey toward a healthier heart and lower blood pressure. Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, with more of the potent antioxidant than even citrus fruits, which has been shown to improve cardiac function and lower blood pressure. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that loading up on vitamin C reduced blood pressure by 5 millimeters of mercury in patients with hypertension, making these versatile veggies a smart addition to any meal plan.
Unless you also happen to be lactose intolerant, you’re good to go when it comes to dairy products. Some evidence indicates dairy is beneficial for lowering blood pressure, but you want to make sure you’re choosing the low-fat variety, as we know people with high blood pressure should avoid trans and saturated fats. Need more convincing? The DASH Diet, which has been praised for lowering blood pressure, encourages people to incorporate low-fat dairy products into their diets. This includes low-fat yogurt and fat-free milk.
Tip: Cool and creamy, yogurt is a star ingredient in mineral-rich breakfasts, in sauces and salad dressings, and even in entrées. Most brands of regular yogurt tend to be a bit higher in calcium than Greek varieties, but no matter what type you buy, be sure to stick to low-sugar varieties free of flavorings. (Keep things interesting with these 8 tasty yogurt toppings.)
Nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, so there’s little argument about their importance in a diet focused on lowering high blood pressure. Additionally, SFGate says certain nuts could lower cholesterol, which is often a huge offender among those with high blood pressure. So, whether you prefer pistachios to walnuts, snacking on these staples will help keep your heart healthy.
Flexibility is key: Of course this plan cannot meet all your individual needs, so if there is an ingredient you don’t eat then replace it or leave it out. If you don’t normally eat breakfast, then leave it out. If you eat between meals, then have more than one snack. Also it pays off to batch prepare several meals ahead of time so you can simply reheat and go. This can be done for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Limit or cut out junk foods and highly processed products: This diet plan focuses on whole, unrefined foods as they are fundamental to eating healthy. Realistically it’s very difficult to eliminate all highly processed/packaged foods (which contain the majority of salt in our diet), but just be mindful of cutting down. Likewise, snacks are optional depending on your normal eating habits, and there are bonus snack recipe ideas if you scroll to the bottom.
Don’t deprive yourself of dessert just because you’re eager to get your blood pressure under control. A little dark chocolate can go a long way when it comes to lowering those numbers, thanks to its flavonoid content. Flavonoids, a type of plant-based pigment, have been linked to reductions in blood pressure, thanks to their ability to improve endothelial function, according to researchers at the University of Manitoba. Just make sure you’re choosing real dark chocolate for the biggest benefit; foods high in sugar, like most milk chocolate bars, have been linked to an increase in blood pressure by researchers at the New Zealand University of Otago. Reduce your risk of chronic disease even further by discovering and ditching the worst habits for heart health ASAP.