High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major public health concern, being responsible for an estimated 7 million deaths annually, either directly or via increasing the risk of comorbidities such as heart disease or stroke.
In addition to this, it is estimated that 40% of adults over the age of 25 years will at some point or another in their lifetime experience short lived hypertension, though the actual frequency of this converting into chronic hypertension is not established.
What is clear in both of these instances is the fact that high blood pressure needs to be taken in hand before it spirals out of control, with the best place to start often being diet, and overall lifestyle habits.
There are many natural foods that work well in helping to control blood pressure, or lowering blood pressure that is currently on the higher side. Here are some great food options to keep your blood pressure readings within the normal ranges.
1. Citrus Fruits
Many people don’t appreciate the importance of citrus fruits in the diets, as their often just seen as good sources of vitamin C. However, citrus fruits are great sources of bioflavonoids, which importantly facilitate normal collagen expression.
Collagen is important for promoting healthy skin and joints, but can also be found within blood vessel walls, and assist with maintaining vascular elasticity.
Some of the cases of high blood pressure develop as a result of blood vessel inflexibility, or the lack of the vessels to expand when needed. Citrus fruits can help prevent this cause of hypertension.
2. Low-Fat Dairy
This includes milk and a variety of milk-based products including cheese and yogurt. While it is important to note that we are not advocating that you follow a low fat diet, it is still important that you moderate the overall amount of fat consumed, as anything in excess is bad for you.
Since you are likely to still be consuming full fat meat products, reducing the fat content of these products is a good idea.
Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D, which play important roles in blood vessel dilation.
Potassium and sodium play important roles on the regulation of fluid balance, with sodium promoting the storage of water, and potassium it’s excretion. In addition to this, potassium acts as a vasodilator on blood vessels, while sodium acts as a vasoconstrictor.
This is why diets that are high in sodium but low in potassium are more likely to contribute to the development of high blood pressure.
4. Fatty Fish
These include tuna, salmon and mackerel to name a few. These fish are rich in omega-3 fats which play key roles in the regulation of several body processes, including maintaining blood vessel integrity.
These fats also help to foster an optimal cholesterol balance, decrease triglycerides and also reduce the likelihood of platelets clotting together. All these factors help to promotes optimal blood pressure values.
5. Dark Chocolate
While it is true that sugary treats do no benefits for your blood pressure, dark chocolate should be viewed as an exception.
To start with, dark chocolate is not the same as milk chocolate, as it maintains much of its natural flavonoid content. Milk chocolate has much of these compounds removed, and replaced with sugar and fats to make it more palatable for mass consumption. Dark chocolate has a characteristically bitter taste that can be considered acquired to an extent.
Regardless, a flavonoid by the name of epicatechin favorably promotes blood vessel dilation, and is capable of reducing the constrictive nature of cortisol on blood vessels. Consuming a square or two of dark chocolate daily is a great insurance policy against hypertension, and can serve as a welcomed addition to a diet that seems restrictive.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil is one such fat which should not be restricted. Used for centuries by natives living in Mediterranean regions, olive oil has positively been identified as one reason why life expectancy in these regions was significantly higher than what the rest of the world had ever seen.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, a type of anti-inflammatory fat that reduces cholesterol levels, improves blood vessel health, can reduce blood pressure and also lends itself to maintenance of glucose sensitivity and supporting testosterone production.
This is one of the easiest foods to start implementing in your diet geared at lowering blood pressure – simply replace your current cooking oil with olive oil to start improving your health.
7. Red Wine/Grapes
Over the past two decades much research has been focused on red wine and grapes owing to the fact that a compound known as resveratrol was identified as being present in them, which can improve health by leaps and bounds.
Resveratrol is a very potent antioxidant that can reduce the impact of free radical damage, especially on blood vessels where such actions can help to diminish the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
In addition to this, resveratrol can help maintain health of blood vessel walls, so that they can more easily accommodate changes to blood volume.
Not to mention that resveratrol has been heralded as one of the great antiaging discoveries of the 21st-century, and what you have is a great excuse to drink wine!
Beets have been a staple in savory soups by persons living in colder climates for centuries. However, recent research has been focusing on their generous amounts of dietary nitrates, compounds which promotes natural nitric oxide levels when consumed.
Nitric oxide is the body’s primary vasodilator compound that signals for blood vessels to relax. One important method of achieving a reduction in blood pressure is to actively promote dilation of blood vessels.
You can either try to consumer beets, or start using them into convenient beetroot juice. The juice is actually superior as the amount required to be eaten is often impractical, but can easily be obtained by juice.
Even though L-arginine was considered the natural supplement of choice for helping to keep blood pressure values within a normal range, L citrulline has now been established to do this job better, often requiring less in the process.
A great place to start is by having a slice of watermelon daily, then only if need be, use the supplements containing the amino acid.
There are many other foods that can naturally help to lower blood pressure values. If you are pre-hypertensive, there is a good likelihood that you can prevent it from becoming full-blown high blood pressure by making modifications to your diet and lifestyle, and being sure to include some of the foods referenced on this list.
And as always, do not underestimate the importance of exercise. Exercise improves the natural production of nitric oxide by the blood vessels, and can make other interventions you take much more effective.