Which are the best high blood pressure diets?
If you’ve done any reading online (or in the real world) about high blood pressure diets, you’ll know that different health associations and gurus recommend slightly different types of diet. You also might have noticed that the high blood pressure diets which are recommended change over the years.
For example, a low-fat high-whole grain diet (such as the DASH diet, promoted by the US health authorities) used to be considered the best high blood pressure diet. However, research now is showing that eating too many carbs and not enough fats can actually be bad for you and your blood pressure.
The Mediterranean Diet
Another diet that was promoted for high blood pressure was the so-called ‘Mediterranean diet’. In other words, eating similar foods to those commonly eating in the European countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, such as France, Italy and Greece.
You can read more here about the Mediterranean diet for high blood pressure. Broadly speaking, it consists of eating plenty plant foods – vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, olive oil; with a bit of fish and seafood, eggs, dairy, and occasionally poultry and red meat. All washed down with a glass of good red wine of course 😉
This is still considered to be a healthy high blood pressure diet because it is varied and balanced. You get all the basic nutrients you need – vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. However, perhaps most crucially, the Mediterranean diet is based on fresh food, not processed food.
The real food diet
You see if there’s one thing you can do to improve your blood pressure through diet, it’s by ditching processed foods and going back to basics. This doesn’t just mean avoiding the obvious ones like ready-made pizza and doughnuts. Actually, loads of things contain added sugars and salt (and other less-than-healthy ingredients). And many of these you wouldn’t expect. For example, most pasta sauces contain added sugar and salt. Make your own from fresh (or even canned tomatoes which don’t contain sodium) and vegetables, good quality meat, herbs.
Also avoid low-fat foods. I don’t mean foods that are naturally low in fats, but foods which are naturally fatty but have “low-fat” versions. These are usually worse than the full-fat versions since they tend to contain added sugars to make up for the lack of fat. Most low-fat mayonnaises, for example, are really high in sugar.
And completely avoid fizzy drinks / pop / soft drinks / sodas / whatever you call them. They contain artificial sugars which are particularly bad for your blood pressure, and pretty much every other aspect of your health. And the low/no sugar versions contain weird chemical sugar substitutes, some of which are possibly carcinogenic. Try smoothies or juices or teas. And coconut water is a great hydrator after exercise or in hot weather.
High blood pressure diets – a comprehensive overview
These are just a few examples of ways you can alter your diet to make it better for your blood pressure. If you’re serious about following a healthy high blood pressure diet, then you can browse this website for more articles on specific aspects of high blood pressure diets. (We have a lot of posts on different kinds of food and drink).
You could also have a look at our book: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
The guide goes through the many different foods and drinks you could be eating more or less of to improve your blood pressure. It looks at the different activities you could be doing to boost your circulatory health. And it outlines the various techniques and habits you can practice to lower your stress levels and generally live a more relaxed life.
High blood pressure diets are not the only answer – being active and relaxed are also vital! Seriously. Even watching comedy videos can help your blood pressure. Have a laugh!
Just click on the pic for more information.
Start your day the way you mean to go on
To give you a specific example of how I’ve implemented a healthy diet for my blood pressure, here’s how I start my days. Mornings play an important part of the diet which has helped me to lower my blood pressure and keep it low.
Here’s how it goes:
I start with a glass of water as soon as I rise from bed. I prefer the carbonated water available in bottles from the store. But that’s just the kid in me. As far as I am aware carbonated water has no greater health benefits than still water.
After my first glass is consumed I pour myself another but with this one I add a squirt (25 – 30 drops) of Hawthorn tincture. It adds a subtle and refreshing taste to the water but it’s not the taste I’m after. Hawthorn flowers and berries act as a vasodilator – they relax and widen blood vessels. One shot in the morning for me is plenty although for bad cases of high blood pressure some three shots a day is recommended. (I make my own Hawthorn tincture as Hawthorn grows strong and potent up here on the Welsh mountainsides – but I’ll leave the details for another post if anyone is interested.)
So after my two glasses of water I’ll sometimes move to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Not the decaffeinated variety but coffee straight from the bean – as nature intended. I say ‘sometimes’ because I used to drink coffee every morning as a rule – and lots of it. Now it’s a matter of choice – not habit or compulsion.
Coffee does raise blood pressure, mind you, so I keep it to one cup. Some people might find they need to avoid coffee altogether. In this case tea (normal black tea or green tea) is a good alternative. It does contain enough caffeine to give you a boost but not as much as a cup of coffee and tea contains loads of antioxidants which can help reduce blood pressure.
Later in the morning as hunger begins to rise its head I prepare a bowl of oatmeal. As far as I am concerned, oats are the best health food anywhere – not just for high blood pressure but for all around good health. This traditional staple of the Scots.
In a nutshell, oatmeal (or even better, oat bran) contains beta-glucan which helps to moderate our blood sugar and insulin levels. It keeps your body in balance avoiding blood sugar spikes. In turn, this helps avoid insulin insensitivity, enabling your body to better store magnesium, which aids in the relaxing and expansion of your blood vessels. The results is lower blood pressure. I’m not a trained biologist but that’s how it was explained to me.
With my bowl of oatmeal I take some vitamin supplements. Currently these are one multi-vitamin pill (containing magnesium, calcium and vitamin D) and one vitamin C pill. I also take some cod liver oil (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) in gelatin capsules for general well-being as well as lowering blood pressure.
The outcome of this morning diet is another enjoyable day with improved blood pressure and general well-being. And better prepared to deal with all the muck that life sometimes throws at you.
This works for me. What works for you?