According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 75 million Americans have high blood pressure. Many risk factors for high blood pressure are out of your control, such as age, family history, gender, and race. But there are also factors you can control, such as exercise and diet. A diet that can help control blood pressure is rich in potassium, magnesium, and fiber and lower in sodium.
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.
As if you didn’t need another reason to drink more berry-filled smoothies. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found compounds in blueberries protect against high blood pressure. If you’re not a fan of blueberries, these compounds are also found in raspberries, strawberries, and black currents, ScienceDaily reports. The effect was higher in those who ate blueberries over strawberries, though, so choose these if you have the option.
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.
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.
“The DASH diet is heart healthy and is rich in foods that have a high content of calcium, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber,” explains Marwah Abdalla, MD, MPH, a cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. These nutrients are essential to lowering blood pressure naturally. That said, incorporating these cardiologist-approved foods into your diet, along with taking prescribed medication and following a regular exercise routine, can help lower your blood pressure.
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
An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, particularly for those struggling with high blood pressure. In addition to the 4.5 grams of blood pressure-lowering fiber you’ll get from each apple, you’ll also enjoy a healthy helping of quercetin, which has been deemed an effective antihypertensive, according to the results of a study conducted at the University Complutense of Madrid School of Medicine.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is an effective high blood pressure diet. According to this diet plan, one should have fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy and lean meats and poultry in the diet. The daily diet should consist of high amounts of carbohydrates, good amounts of proteins, and very little amounts of fats and sodium. A vegetarian DASH diet should focus on eating more lentils, nuts, and seeds to gain essential amounts of proteins. This diet should also be followed by other people to maintain proper health and a healthy weight.