20 Foods That Are Good for High Blood Pressure
With many factors influencing heart health and blood pressure, is there a diet for those with high blood pressure? Health experts suggest that consuming a nutritious, balanced diet may be the best bet to lower blood pressure and achieve good health. Try adding these 20 foods into your diet to help reduce blood pressure.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when the heart forcefully pumps blood into the arteries, consequently increasing the pressure against the blood vessels. Uncontrolled hypertension may lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), kidney disease, stroke and heart failure. But with numerous causes, many factors contributing to high blood pressure are modifiable and include smoking, being overweight and obese, staying sedentary, drinking too much alcohol and eating too much salt.
With a healthy lifestyle encompassing most of the influences, is there a high blood pressure diet? Health experts suggest that consuming a nutritious, balanced diet may be your ticket to lower blood pressure and achieving good health.
20 Foods That Are Good for High Blood Pressure
When it comes to food that lowers blood pressure, one single nutrient or food cannot do the entire job. Instead, the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet focuses on a lifelong approach. The DASH diet further emphasizes portion sizes and encourages a variety of nutritious foods by incorporating fresh produce and low-fat dairy with moderating intake of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. Additionally, nutrients such as fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium have been shown to have a healthy effect on blood pressure.
Fresh Produce: 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
1. All Green, Leafy Vegetables
Romaine lettuce, spinach and kale are all prime examples and provide essential nutrients and fiber. Opt for fresh or frozen veggies as canned may contain high volumes of salt.
This well-respected veggie, apart of the cabbage family, is loaded with nutrients without amplifying total calories. Not only is broccoli budget-friendly, but highly versatile – snack on broccoli stalks with hummus, steam and serve as a side or bulk up entrees.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Though considered a starchy vegetable, sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients while offering a little natural sweetness. They also provide high amounts of potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte that has a documented role in hypertension prevention.
"An apple a day might keep blood pressure at bay…" Apples are a healthful fruit loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Their ability to increase uric acid in the blood may contribute to high antioxidant levels, ultimately protecting blood vessels form damage. But if drinking apple juice, choose juices without added sugars and stick to a four-ounce glass.
Bananas are much more than monkey business, as research indicates daily consumption can help to lower blood pressure. The result is related to banana's potassium content, as it lessens the effects of sodium.
Whether you believe a fruit or vegetable, tomatoes also provide potassium and considered to be heart-protective. Lycopene, a naturally-occurring compound found in tomatoes that provide its red color, may also reduce systolic pressure (the pressure read first on a blood pressure reading).
Whole Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day
7. Whole Wheat Pasta
Choose wheat over white pastas for nutrients and fiber. One serving is a half cup of cooked pasta. Though pastas are naturally low in fat, be mindful of added sauces that may also be high in salt content.
Inexpensive and versatile, oats are a great contributor to a well-balanced diet. Eat as oatmeal or throw whole or ground oats into baked products for added fiber and nutrients.
9. Brown Rice
Like pasta, a serving size is a half cup of cooked rice. Switching from white to brown rice further boosts nutrients and fiber as well as potentially reducing the overall risk of high blood pressure.
Lean Proteins: 6 or less servings a day
Lean chicken breasts or tenders provides ample amounts of protein without a tremendous amount of calories. Stray away from fried and breaded forms to eliminate unwanted calories from fat.
Like chicken, go away with or limit fried turkey products. To further enhance their health content, pick fresh deli turkey from a butcher, as prepackaged deli meats are oftentimes preserved with high amounts of sodium.
Though beef does in fact contain the misrepresented saturated fat, it also offers rich sources of iron and protein. When consuming beef products, aim for the lean and fresh cuts.
Fish and shellfish are an excellent source of lean protein, thus having a great potential to facilitate weight loss. Fatty fish such as herring, tuna, sardines and mackerel are also noteworthy related to their healthy omega-3 fatty acid content.
Dairy Products: 2 to 3 servings a day
Despite the dairy debate regarding nonfat versus whole milk, milk is an exceptional source of calcium. Along with bone health, calcium may have a healthful effect on blood pressure.
Not all yogurts are treated the same – some are loaded with sugar while others are highly nutritious. Lean towards a plain Greek yogurt to minimize sugar and maximize protein. Plain Greek yogurt is a blank canvas for fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, or used in place of sour cream or mayonnaise for a lighter tuna or chicken salad.
Calcium-containing cheese offers heart-protective benefits, especially in moderated amounts. When choosing cheese, try aiming for part-skim products without added salt.
Fats and Oils: 2 to 3 servings a week
17. Olive Oil
Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, a well-documented fat known for its contribution to good health. Though saturated fats can fit into a balanced diet, incorporating unsaturated fat sources (also found in other seed and vegetable oils) has shown to be heart-protective and support blood sugar control.
Nuts, Seeds and Legumes: 4 to 5 servings a week
Nuts such as a walnuts and pecans are rich sources of healthy fats. It is important, though, to keep portions limited to a small palm-full, as they are energy-dense and offer heavy amounts of calories.
There is a plethora of protein-packed beans to choose from – black, kidney, pinto, garbanzo, just to name a few – that serve as a vegetarian and vegan-friendly protein source. The high content of fiber, potassium and magnesium ultimately provides the capability to reduce blood pressure.
Like seed oils, their respected whole form also contains healthy fats. Omega-3 loaded chia seeds have also been shown to be cardio-protective by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation. Throw seeds onto salad for extra crunch, mix into smoothies or simply munch on their own!
DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure. Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456.