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.
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.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, refers to the pressure of blood against your artery walls. Over time, high blood pressure can cause blood vessel damage that leads to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other problems. Hypertension is sometimes called the silent killer because it produces no symptoms and can go unnoticed — and untreated — for years.
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.)
High-fiber whole grains, especially oatmeal, have been linked to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that just three servings of whole grains a day can decrease your risk of heart disease by 15 percent. Oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to start your day with whole grains. Add whole-wheat bread at lunch and quinoa, barley, or brown rice at dinner
Tip: There’s a reason the United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. This high-protein whole grain has a mild yet nutty flavor, contains a variety of health-protecting phytonutrients along with an impressive amount of magnesium, and cooks in less than half the time it takes to make brown rice. Quinoa is gluten free, making it a great option if you’re gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. The most widely available quinoa is a golden beige color, but red and black varieties are also available and worth a try for your high blood pressure diet.
Tip: This mild white fish is available year-round in supermarkets and fish stores, fresh or as frozen fillets. You can roast it, bake it, and sauté it, flavor it with a variety of seasonings, and even top it with mineral-rich kiwi-avocado salsa. Tilapia is extremely low in environmental toxins like mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and it is considered a sustainable, environmentally friendly choice. Most US-raised tilapia is grown in closed-system fish farms on plant-based diets, an approach that doesn’t threaten stocks of wild fish, according to the nonprofit Food & Water Watch. (These 10 healthiest fish on the planet are also worth adding to your diet.)