There are about 1 billion people in the world dealing with high blood pressure and it is estimated to cause about 7,5 million deaths every year.
High blood pressure is a serious condition, but it is proved many times in the studies that a healthy diet combined with medical treatment is a good way to prevent, control, and sometimes even cure hypertension.
Here are some foods to eat and avoid when dealing with high blood pressure. Try to avoid these foods that are listed at the beginning of this article as much as possible and incorporate at least some of these great suggested foods to your daily diet if you have hypertension or tendency for that.
Foods to avoid
Salt is probably the most well-known food to avoid or at least reduce in the diet if you are dealing with high blood pressure. Why?
Salt makes our body to retain water, so if we eat too much salt, the extra water stored in the blood vessels raises the blood pressure. It is recommended to eat no more than 5 grams of salt per day (one even teaspoon), but most people consume 2-3 times more salt than recommended.
Foods high in natural saturated fats are red meat, chicken skin, butter and full-fat dairy. But a bigger amount of saturated fats and sometimes even combined with trans fats are found in processed meats and other pre-packed foods.
The other reason you should be avoiding processed meat is that these kind of foods are often loaded with sodium. When the intention is to lower blood pressure try to cook yourself as much as possible and choose dairy and proteins with less fat like poultry, fish and other seafood.
Sugar is a villain mostly because excess sugar consumption is strongly related to weight gain and obesity and overweight people have a higher risk for hypertension.
I recommend repressing sugar cravings by eating regularly 5 times a day, incorporating veggies, whole grains and low-fat protein or legumes with every main meal and eat plenty of fruits and berries.
Foods to eat
Especially blueberries, because they contain natural compounds called flavonoids. This is what makes blueberries blue.
It is proved that eating at least 200 grams of blueberries a day can improve blood vessel function and one study even showed that people who had 200 grams of blueberries per day lowered their blood pressure by 5mmHg over one month. This is pretty much the same as blood pressure lowering drugs would do.*
*Ana Rodriguez-Mateos et al, Circulating anthocyanin metabolites mediate vascular benefits of blueberries: insights from randomized controlled trials, metabolomics, and nutrigenomics, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A (2019). DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glz047
It is proved that enough dietary fibre in our diet can prevent and lower high blood pressure. Whole grain oats have one of the highest fibre content and oats are also low in sodium and very low in fat.
When adding oat bran to your morning oats as well, you can even level up the fibre content of your porridge.
Bananas are high in potassium. Potassium helps our kidneys to get rid of sodium through urine and this will lower the blood pressure.
Beets are high in nitric oxide, which can help broaden your blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
It is also proved that nitrates found in beets can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke as well. Beetroots taste great when juiced, added to smoothies, salads or roasted in the oven.
Basically, all the beans are good for our cardiovascular system.
Beans are high in potassium as well, which helps to reduce the tension in the blood vessels, and they have a great fibre and magnesium content. These two nutrients are essential for cardiovascular health.
Beans are also high in protein, for example, pork has 27 g of protein per 100 g, beans on average have 22 g of protein per 100 grams. You can easily replace fatty meats with bean patties and chicken salad with the chickpea salad.
Garlic contains allicin, an organosulfur compound that helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. When cooking, garlic is a great alternative to salt-based seasoning!
It is strongly recommended to flavour your meals with different herbs, spices and of course garlic and onion when dealing with high blood pressure and avoid salt as much as possible.
It is known that fats are something to avoid when having high blood pressure, but actually, it is reasonable to avoid only saturated fats and therefore incorporate better (unsaturated) fats to the diet.
Olive oil, for example, contains micronutrients called polyphenols, which help to fight inflammation and therefore lower blood pressure. Olive oil is a great alternative to butter, canola oil and ready-made salad dressings.
Author: nutritionist Elis Nikolai