Hypertension and You
Can my food habits help prevent hypertension?
Yes. You may think you’re eating right and exercising enough and are not expressing any symptoms of hypertension, but this condition can be a silent killer and can lead to a myriad of cardiovascular diseases. Even without symptoms, high blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels and organs, especially the brain, heart, eyes, and kidneys. Hypertension is quite common and typically develops over several years.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is when your blood pressure is too high. Blood pressure measures the amount of blood passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance it meets whilst the heart is pumping. If your arteries are narrow, the resistance will be higher and so will your blood pressure.
There is hope.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can go a long way in treating your condition. If you have high blood pressure, a few smart eating tactics can help prevent blood pressure spikes and even help reduce your blood pressure.
Let’s look at some foods and how they can help:
Lemon can help soften blood vessels and make them flexible thus keeping blood pressure low. Vitamin B found in lemons can help prevent heart failure. A glass of lemon juice mixed with warm water every morning on an empty stomach is advisable.
Cayenne pepper helps prevent the blood platelets from clumping and building up in the blood vessels. This helps ensure that the blood flows smoothly. Add cayenne pepper to your vegetable salads, fruits salads or add a pinch to your soups.
Garlic supports healthy cholesterol levels. When crushed, garlic releases hydrogen sulphide that helps promote a healthy flow of blood. Whenever you experience hypertension, eat 1-2 slightly crushed cloves. Alternatively, mix 5-6 drops of garlic juice with 4 teaspoons of water and take this twice a day.
Honey can soothe blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure. Take one teaspoon of honey per day, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Eating half a banana daily can help control high blood pressure. Bananas have high potassium content and also help with high cholesterol levels.
The best way to stay hydrated is with coconut water. It is tasty, nutritious and can help lower and control hypertension levels. Drink coconut water regularly for the best results. You can also cook using coconut oil instead of regular cooking oil.
Celery contains high levels of 3-N-butylphthalide, a phytochemical that helps control high blood pressure. It also helps reduce stress hormones that lead to high blood pressure.
Watermelon seeds contain a compound called, cucurbocitrin, that widen blood capillaries and improves the functioning of the kidneys. It also helps with arthritis as it reduces blood pressure.
Leafy greens such as, romaine lettuce, rocket, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard contain nitrates that help manage blood pressure.
Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids. Studies have found that consuming these compounds may help prevent hypertension and help lower blood pressure. You can add these to your oatmeal or granola in the morning or keep frozen berries on hand for a quick and healthy smoothie.
Red beets are high in nitric oxide, which can help open your blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Researchers also found that the nitrates in beetroot juice lowered research participants’ blood pressure within just 24 hours.
You can juice beets or cook and eat the whole bulb. Beetroot is delicious when roasted or added to stir-fries and stews. You can also bake them into chips.
Oatmeal is high in fibre, low in unhealthy fats and low sodium, to help lower blood pressure. Eating oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to fuel up for the day.
Salmon, mackerel and tuna are a great source of lean protein and essential fats. These omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower triglycerides.
Unsalted seeds are high in potassium, magnesium, and other minerals are known to reduce blood pressure. Enjoy ¼ cup of sunflower, pumpkin, or squash seeds as a snack between meals.
Eating dark chocolate is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that up to 100 grams per day of dark chocolate may be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dark chocolate has less sugar than regular chocolate. You can add dark chocolate to yoghurt or eat it with fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, as a healthy dessert.
Pistachios are a healthy way to decrease blood pressure by reducing blood vessel tightening, and heart rate. One study found that a diet with one serving of pistachios a day helps reduce blood pressure.
Olive oil is an example of healthy fat. It contains inflammation-fighting polyphenols, a compound to help reduce blood pressure.
Olive oil can help you meet your two to three daily servings of healthy fats. It’s also a great alternative to canola oil, butter, or commercial salad dressings.
Pomegranates are a healthy fruit that you can enjoy raw or as a juice. One study concluded that drinking a cup of pomegranate juice once a day for four weeks helps lower blood pressure over the short term.
Exercise is key to wellness
Increasing activity levels by walking every morning, becoming a gym-goer or taking up a sport with help improve your health and wellbeing.
So, make changes to your diet and lifestyle and take control of your life, today.
In the next article, we are going to talk about Obesity. Are we becoming silently obese? How do we know? How do we prevent it? Just await our next post and you’ll understand why. Until then, eat healthy, sleep well and work those sweat glands.
Please ensure you consult with your doctor before you make any significant changes to your diet if you suffer from any hypertensive or cardiac-related ailments. And, it would be best to remember that food is not a magic treatment for your ailment.
This article has been reviewed by Michelle Boehm, a registered nutritional therapist at Live Better Health. Michelle supports busy individuals on their journey to improved health, looking at the root cause of issues. If you would like health advice that is unique to you, contact Michelle