High blood pressure is a silent killer, usually showing no signs or symptoms. Constantly unaddressed high blood pressure can lead to illnesses like stroke, heart attack, blindness and kidney failure. And while prescription medication can reduce and control high blood pressure, a dietary regimen has been proven to be as effective as well. Unlike dietary regimens to control abnormal health conditions that provide you with a list of foods that you shouldn’t eat, in this article we provide you with a list that you should eat. Most of the foods we highlight have been backed by research or have nutrients known to have specific properties that keep blood pressure down.
Although cutting down on your sodium intake is an important step in lowering blood pressure. What you add to your diet is as important as what you take out. Here are seven foods you should be eating to keep your blood pressure down:
1. Non-fat Yogurt
According to studies, adults who consume 1000 to 1500 milligrams of calcium a day in their food reduce their risk of having high blood pressure. And a high-calcium diet had twice the blood-pressure-lowering effect compared to a calcium-supplement regimen according to a comprehensive meta-analysis by the Women’s Health Initiative. The best way to get calcium from food is to get it from non-fat yogurt.
Research presented at the High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association (AHA) found that people who consumed more non-fat yogurt were 31% less likely to develop high blood pressure than others. The study included tracking 2,000 adults for 14 years and the 31% was found in people for whom non-fat yogurt made up 2% or more of their daily calories (around two cups or more, daily).
Studies have shown that daily banana consumption can help lower blood pressure. One study showed that a consumption of two bananas a day can reduce your blood pressure by 10%! A banana has at least 450 milligrams of potassium, nature’s most powerful blood-pressure-lowering medicine.
Abundant scientific evidence has proven that a shortage of this electrolyte plays a major role in the onset of high blood pressure and that restricting potassium intake can cause a blood pressure spike even among people with no previous concerns. Potassium is a natural diuretic — so the more you eat, the more sodium and water you’ll excrete through urine.
Other potassium-rich foods include potatoes, dates, and avocados.
3. Dark Chocolate
A study of older adults with hypertension or pre-hypertension showed that after a daily consumption of dark chocolate worth 30 calories for just 18 weeks, participants saw a nearly 20% decrease in elevated blood pressure.
Flavonoids are phytochemicals proven to protect against heart and vascular diseases and are found in high concentration in dark chocolate. To effectively reduce blood pressure, going with natural chocolate sources are better. Natural unsweetened cocoa powder has the highest concentration of flavonoids of any chocolate product, followed by unsweetened baking chocolate. Cocoa powder is also lower in sugar, fat and calories than solid chocolate bars.
4. Red Wine
Moderate consumption of red wine soothes the arteries, reduces blood sugar and lessens your diabetes risk – a five-ounce glass a day for women and up to two a day for men is recommended. The combination of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) and antioxidant polyphenols, including resveratrol and procyanidins are believed to lower blood pressure. Red wine has polyphenol content ten times more than the white variety because they are fermented with the skins and seeds of the grape.
Red wine is part of an evolving lifestyle prescription for preventing the onset of high blood pressure and even addressing existing hypertension.
5. Egg Whites
Egg whites contain a peptide which lowers blood pressure. A study presented by the American Chemical Society revealed egg whites can lower your blood pressure as much as a low dose of a prescription medicine for hypertension.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene that have been proven to help reduce blood pressure. An Australian study found that by getting at least 25 mg of lycopene in your diet every day, one can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) by up to 10%. Researchers say that’s as much a difference as a low dose prescription medicine like Statin. Include tomatoes into your cooking — a half cup of spaghetti sauce contains 20 mg of lycopene.
Researchers from Florida State University say the fruit is one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline, which helps regulate blood flow and blood pressure. Natural sources of the amino acid can actually have a protective effect, preventing pre-hypertension from developing into full-blown hypertension.