high blood pressure diet healthy foods
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If you have hypertension, then changing your diet can significantly help in lowering high blood pressure. There is even a diet – the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan – that is specifically designed to treat hypertension by lowering your blood pressure. It recommends eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meat, and cutting down on salt, red meat, saturated fats, sweets, and added sugars.

What nutrients do you need if you have hypertension?

Foods that help lower blood pressure and maintain it at a healthy level are typically rich in potassium, which lessens the effects of sodium. You should also include foods that are high in magnesium, calcium, and fibre, as they are important elements in managing blood pressure.

Nine foods that can help reduce high blood pressure 

Here are nine essential foods that can help you fight hypertension:

1.) Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are packed with potassium and fibre, which are two nutrients that play a crucial role in lowering and maintaining blood pressure. In fact, they contain more potassium than bananas. They also contain magnesium and calcium and are excellent sources of protein. [1]

2.) Bananas

Bananas are a nutritional powerhouse. They are well known as one of the richest sources of potassium and fibre. Apart from reducing blood pressure, potassium also lowers the risk of getting kidney stones. Bananas are high in magnesium as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin B6, both of which are good for heart health. They are also naturally fat-free. [1, 2, 3]

3.) Beetroot

Apart from being rich in potassium, beetroots are an excellent source of nitrates. Nitrates are converted into nitric acid by the body, which helps widen and relax blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and in turn lowering blood pressure. Beetroots are also high in fibre and B vitamins. They can be added to salads or you can have beetroot juice. [5, 6]

4.) Spinach

While spinach is known for its robust iron content, it is also one of the best sources of magnesium and calcium. Moreover, it is rich in potassium and dietary fibre. All of these nutrients are essential in treating hypertension. It is also naturally low in sodium. This green leafy vegetable is therefore recommended for people who have high blood pressure. [1, 2]

5.) Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, along with magnesium and protein, and should be an essential component of your diet if you have hypertension. Calcium and magnesium are essential for healthy blood pressure as they help blood vessels tighten and relax as required, which allows blood to flow without putting undue strain on the walls of your blood vessels. Yoghurt can be eaten plain or can be paired with fruits like bananas and berries, or it can even be used as a base for healthy dips. When buying yoghurt, ensure you choose low-fat or non-fat options, and avoid those with added sugar. [2, 4, 7]

6.) Pomegranates

It is believed that the high antioxidant content in pomegranates helps lower high blood pressure. You can have pomegranate raw, as fruit. You can also add the seeds to low-fat or non-fat yoghurt along with cereal or salads, where they add nutrients, flavour, and texture. If you prefer to have it as juice and buy it packaged from the store, check to ensure that there is no added sugar. [8]

7.) Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids

Meat can be a rich source of protein, but red meats are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which are associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you have hypertension, then lean varieties of meat, such as fish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or tuna, are not only a much healthier option but they might also be necessary. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart-healthy and can help lower and keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. [1, 9]

8.) Oatmeal

Oats are one of the healthiest whole grains available and are most commonly eaten as oatmeal. Oatmeal is high in fibre and low in fat and sodium and helps in lowering blood pressure, making it an ideal food for a person with hypertension. [10]

9.) Garlic

Given its natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Garlic is good for people who have hypertension because it helps increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body, thereby improving blood circulation and lowering blood pressure. [11]

References:

  1. American Heart Association. A Primer on Potassium. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/potassium
  2. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Potassium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/
  3. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  4. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Calcium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/  
  5. American Heart Association. Beetroot, nitrate supplements could help prevent salt-induced hypertension. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/03/28/beetroot-nitrate-supplements-could-help-prevent-salt-induced-hypertension  
  6. NDTV. Hypertension: How To Use Beetroot For Managing High Blood Pressure. Available from: https://www.ndtv.com/food/hypertension-how-to-use-beetroots-for-managing-high-blood-pressure-1954805  
  7. Buendia, J., Li, Y., Hu, F., Cabral, H., Bradlee, M., Quatromoni, P., Singer, M., Curhan, G. and Moore, L. Regular Yogurt Intake and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Hypertensive Adults. American Journal of Hypertension. 2018; 31(5), pp.557-565. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/31/5/557/4818397  
  8. Asgary, S., Keshvari, M., Sahebkar, A. and Sarrafzadegan, N. Pomegranate Consumption and Blood Pressure: A Review. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2017; 23(7), pp.1042-1050. Available from: https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612822666161010103339  
  9. Mayo Clinic. Omega-3 in fish: How eating fish helps your heart. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/omega-3/art-20045614  
  10. Keenan, J.M., Pins, J.J., Frazel, C., Moran, A. and Turnquist, L. Oat ingestion reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with mild or borderline hypertension: A pilot trial. The Journal of family practice. 2002; 51(4). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11978262  
  11. Ried, K. and Fakler, P. Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure: mechanisms of action and clinical relevance. Integr Blood Press Control. 2014;7:71–82. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266250/ 

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