Estimates now show that 1 in 3 people living in the United States have high blood pressure, making it one of the most common ailments among us. High blood pressure medication is also the third most prescribed medications. Yet, lowering your blood pressure is one of the easiest conditions to treat yourself. Creating a new lifestyle for yourself that includes adequate amounts of exercise to keep you energized, reducing stress, as well as changing the foods you eat to include less processed products and more whole foods will work wonders in lowering your blood pressure. One of the many causes of high blood pressure is not maintaining a healthy electrolyte-to-sodium ratio within your body (primarily the essential minerals potassium, magnesium, and calcium), and is extremely easy to skew on a diet of processed foods. Incorporating more foods into your diet that help maintain this balance, and also foods that help to reduce inflammation, is a vital first step to take.
Try introducing the following 7 foods into your diet if they aren’t already apart. Try to incorporate more if you already include them.
Almonds are an excellent option as a snack for anyone on the go, but especially for those looking to lower their blood pressure. An ounce of almonds contains respectable amounts of both potassium and calcium, but also a significant amount of magnesium. Almonds also contain a hefty amount of Vitamin E (around 35% of your recommended daily intake), a vital antioxidant that helps curb the inflammation in your body. Keep your almond intake in moderation, however, as they are heavy hitters when it comes to caloric density. Additionally, eating too many almonds can skew your Omega 6-to-Omega 3 fatty acid ratio in your body, which can increase inflammation if it is too drastic (consider adding an Omega 3 supplement).
Like almonds, bananas are an excellent on the go food to use as a snack, or even include in some of your meals. Bananas are widely touted for their potassium – they do contain a significant amount. It is the potassium-sodium ratio in our blood that is believed most to contribute to high blood pressure. But it is the combination of the banana’s easy digestibility, convenience, and their potassium content that makes the list. Most people should easily be able to include 1 banana a day, and their extremely wide availability makes them the perfect convenience food.
The potato is has become a villain among food, but it’s actually one of the most nutritious foods around. The little (or big) spud is typically deep fried and covered with salt, and is frequently discouraged because of its relatively high Glycemic Index. But when was the last time you had a good baked potato as part of a whole meal? As with all foods, most people don’t eat mono-meals composed of a single food, and this will help mitigate the influx of blood sugar in your body. Potatoes are a very good source of both potassium and magnesium, and a good source of vitamin C (another crucial antioxidant), especially if you eat them with the skins. Potatoes are also revered for their ability to be easily digested by most people, making them an ideal starch to add to your repertoire. In fact, if we compared potatoes in nutrient content to other foods, we’d find they similarly resemble bananas in their nutrient composition.
Spinach makes the list for its ease of access and mild flavor. But really, all dark leafy greens are included in this category. Like all dark leafy greens, spinach is a good source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, as well as trace amounts of Omega 3 fats (covered at the end of this article). Additionally, all leafy greens are an excellent source of Vitamin K, and antioxidant utilized by our bodies for helping to thing blood. When it comes to lowering blood pressure, a combination of vital minerals, Omega 3 fats, and Vitamin K are a potent mix. Whether your steam it, throw it in a salad, or mix it into just about any dish, spinach is one of the best food sources to add to your repertoire.
This common breakfast food has two major nutrients benefits that help it make this list. Oats are a very good source of magnesium, one of those crucial minerals to maintaining homeostasis in our bodies. But perhaps the more beneficial aspect of oats is that it contains a unique fiber profile among almost all grains. Oats contain a very high ratio of soluble fiber to insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is what you might imagine when you thing of twigs, or even the stalks of vegetables. The majority of grains contain a large portion of their fiber as this type. Oats, on the other hand, contain over 50% of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber differs from insoluble fiber in that it absorbs water, creating a ‘gel.’ This gel can help to create more consistent bowel movements, important healthy blood pressure and overall health. Some even argue this gel helps to remove excess bile as it passes near the gallbladder in your intestine, helping to maintain consistent bile production and aid the health of the liver, in turn also helping to maintain the health of your body as a whole.
Along with many other vine fruits from the Americas, zucchini is a very unique fruit in its nutrient profile. This squash contains ample amounts of all the aforementioned mineral electrolytes that are so important in helping your body maintain healthy blood pressure; it is especially high in potassium, but also contains a good amount of magnesium and calcium. Zucchini is also a good source of Vitamin C, and a decent source Vitamin K and Beta-Carotene.
7. Omega 3
It may be impossible now to not have heard the benefits of increasing omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Omega 3 and omega 6 fats are responsible for maintaining the balance of inflammation in our bodies. However, the typical diet has a large skew towards omega 6 over omega 3, which can lead to increased inflammation, increasing you chance of all diseases and disorders, including high blood pressure. While there are numerous arguments as to what and where to source your omega 3 from, whether from plant or animal sources, the benefits can be reaped from both. Sources of animal omega 3 fatty acids include fish, fish oil, krill oil, grass fed and free range meats and dairy, and especially the organ meats of large animals. Plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids include flax and flax oil, hemp seeds and hemp oil, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, and all leafy greens. Walnuts are largely touted for their omega 3 content, and while they do contain some omega 3, they also contain a decent amount of omega 6. For those looking to increase their omega 3 intake, walnuts are best kept in great moderation.
Remember, utilizing these foods will help you on your both towards lower your blood pressure, but they will not do it alone. Couple these excellent foods with a greater whole foods diet (limiting processed foods), along with a lifestyle that includes a healthy amount of physical activity for you, limit stress, and be sure you’re getting adequate amounts of rest/sleep, and you’ll be on the path to lowering your blood pressure!