Or maybe you’re thinking, “sure, there are foods which lower high blood pressure but they’re all exotic expensive things like acai berries, or weird things you can only get in a health food shop…”
Well, actually there are many foods which help lower high blood pressure and most of them are neither exotic nor expensive. Most of them are ordinary foods which you might already eat occasionally. Foods which you can find in your local grocery store and which won’t be hard on your wallet either.
Eat your greens – and your reds, and your purples, and your oranges, yellows, whites
Many of the foods which lower high blood pressure are fruits and vegetables. In fact, most fruits and vegetables contain nutrients which are good for your circulatory system and blood pressure, as well as your general health.
Some of these get a lot of press and get called “superfruits” and suchlike. Berries such as blueberries have got a lot of hype in this regard, and blueberries are extremely good for your blood pressure – the hype is not just hot air! However, other berries are similarly beneficial – blackberries (brambles), strawberries, raspberries, etc.
Bananas are also often recommended for high blood pressure sufferers. They contain a lot of potassium which is essential to balance sodium levels in the body, and thus help regulate blood volume and thus blood pressure. They’re also high in soluble fibre which helps regulate cholesterol levels – again, good for blood pressure. And contain many useful vitamins.
Tomatoes have also been in the media, and are one of the few fruits which are as nutritious cooked as they are raw. Like bananas, they’re rich in potassium and also contain powerful antioxidants which are important for healthy blood pressure.
Beets or beetroots (depending on which side of the pond you’re on) are another excellent food which lowers high blood pressure. The powerful effects of beet juice are most well-known but of course eating beets is even better. They’re great roasted with garlic – also very good for the circulatory system and blood pressure!
Last but not least, you’ll have had it drummed into you since childhood about the importance of eating your greens. And, unsurprisingly, green vegetables are fantastically good for blood pressure. Leafy green vegetables are rich in valuable minerals like magnesium, amongst other things. And avocados are full of healthy fatty acids. So get stuck into some guacamole!
A rainbow of fruit (and vegetable) flavours
The best rule of thumb for eating fruits and veggies for lower blood pressure is to try to eat a wide range of colours each day. Anyone remember the Skittles ad – “a rainbow of fruit flavours”? Well, forget sugary Skittle sweets and apply that slogan to real fruits and vegetables. This is because the pigments which gives fruits and vegetables their colour have properties which can help reduce blood pressure.
Each pigment is made up of different nutrients (click here to read about the benefits of red coloured foods). So by eating a range of colours in each meal, or at least through the course of a day, you can ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits. (The Japanese have been onto this mealtime principles for centuries now so it’s about time we did too.)
Eat less fatty and sugary foods? It depends…
You’ll have heard plenty no doubt about how important it is to eat low-fat foods. However, you may or may not have heard that this dietary advice is coming seriously under question. In fact, it appears that it’s fine to have plenty fat in our diets. What’s more important is that it’s the healthy fats more than the unhealthy ones.
Some oily/fatty foods which lower high blood pressure
The plant fats, such as those in avocados and olive oil, are actually very good for us. And very good for blood pressure. These are ‘unsaturated’ fats and they’re also found in nuts and seeds. So forget all that about nuts being too fattening. They’re fats that you need! Stay away from salted nuts obviously. And eat raw ones where possible since roasting reduces their health benefits.
Fatty or oily fish are also rich in excellent fats (omega 3 fatty acids). Go for salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, etc. (Don’t eat a lot of tuna though because although it’s good for you in theory, in practice tuna often contains pollutants such as heavy metals, including mercury.)
Saturated and trans fats – good or bad?
Even the saturated fat found naturally in meat and dairy products is not as bad for you as was once thought. What is very bad is ‘trans fats’ which are mainly found in processed foods, such as pastries, desserts, cakes, fried foods, pizzas, etc. So avoid these.
Avoid foods with added sugars – so almost all processed foods!
Seriously. These processed foods also all tend to contain added sugars too. And if there’s one thing you can do to lower your blood pressure it’s to cut down on processed sugary foods. Sugar is extremely bad for your blood pressure and pretty much every aspect of your health.
In connection with this, eating low-fat foods is not such a great idea either. This is because many low-fat foods contain a lot of added sugar to make up for the lack of fat. These added sugars are far worse for you and your blood pressure than the fat would have been. So eat full-fat cheese, etc. Just don’t eat so much of it you get overweight…!
Eat whole grains rather than white flour-based products
Now, eating foods which lower high blood pressure does not have to be a life of denial. While some processed foods are off the agenda, you can often find or make your own healthier versions. If you love cake, make your own, using at least half wholewheat flour and honey or maple syrup instead of sugar.
Whole grain products are far better for blood pressure than refined grain products – i.e., those made with white flour. So replace white bread with proper wholegrain bread – and check the label to make sure it is properly 100% whole grain and not mostly white with a little whole grain flour, or just coloured brown (yes, it does happen). Eat wholewheat pasta instead of regular pasta, etc. You can also experiment with other grains – spelt, kamut, buckwheat make tasty breads, buns and pasta and are generally better for you than wheat products. You can find them in health food shops.
And last but certainly not least – chocolate!!! Yes, chocolate is a food which can lower high blood pressure. There is a catch though – it has to be good quality dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa. Most of the milk chocolate sold is more sugar and fat than cocoa and it’s the cocoa which contains the helpful antioxidants. Eating proper dark chocolate can also lower your blood sugar levels, which is crucial for getting your blood pressure down. And it contains happy hormones which will cheer you up!
Eating more foods which lower high blood pressure can be a big part of bringing your blood pressure down to healthy levels. Drinks too are important – briefly, sugary drinks, sodas, pop etc are bad. Seriously bad. Coconut water, beet juice, and just plain old water are good! Alcohol can be good as long as you’re not drinking too much of it (but not sugary alcopops).
The other ‘lifestyle factors’ which can have a major impact on high blood pressure are exercise and relaxation. Being regularly physically active is vital to a healthy heart and circulatory system. And not being constantly stressed is also crucial.
So, all in all, there is an awful lot you can do in your day-to-day life which can lower your blood pressure.
For an easy way to do this, check out our guide:
As the (imaginative!) title suggests, this is a complete guide to everything you need to know about how to lower your blood pressure through natural methods. It’s laid out in nine easy-to-follow steps. Each step covers different aspects of lowering blood pressure. You can go through each step at your own pace. Or pick and choose which steps you want to follow.
Many of the steps focus on changes you can make to your diet – so there’s a lot of clearly explained information about which foods and drinks to get more of and which to cut down on or avoid. (There are many more foods which lower high blood pressure than mentioned in this article!) These are accompanied by helpful suggestions of how you can incorporate more of the good stuff into your life in a fairly seamless manner.
Exercise is also discussed – what kinds of exercises are good for blood pressure and why, and how you can be more active in your daily life without having to set aside time for the gym or aerobics (unless you want to, of course). There are even exercises you can do from the comfort of your sofa!
Relaxation or stress reduction is the other main aspect and the guide devotes a whole step to different techniques and practices you can do to radically reduce your stress levels. Slow breathing is one of the best methods, actually. And with the guide you also get a set of guided slow breathing audio tracks to assist with stress and blood pressure reduction. Slow breathing’s great for anxiety and sleep as well, so a good thing to be practicing regularly anyway!
I hope this article has been helpful for you. Eating more foods which lower high blood pressure certainly worked for me. (Click here to read a bit more about my experience of lowering my extremely high blood pressure.) I’m sure it can work for you too!
(image credit for banana pic: apionid via flickr.com)