Known as the silent killer, people with high blood pressure (HBP) may not even realize they have it because they might not experience any symptoms (asymptomatic) until the situation is critical. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1-in-3 adults in the United States (almost 78 million people) have high blood pressure and fewer than half have it under control.
Every day, more than 1,000 deaths list high blood pressure – also known as hypertension – as a contributing factor or primary cause. It also increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, and kidney failure.
The initial diagnosis for blood pressure is usually prescription medication. Some may be prescribed multiple medications to get their HBP under control.
But today, we’re going to share with you – what to eat to lower blood pressure – naturally!
No matter what excellent habits you put in place to lower your blood pressure with changes to your diet and way of life, never stop taking prescribed heart medication until your doctor confirms your HBP is within a safe range!
There is a chance that with the right modifications, he or she will be able to lower your dosage or take you off high blood pressure medication completely – but don’t make that choice for yourself.
Even if you work hard to control your lifestyle, you may still need blood pressure medication for the rest of your life.
90-95% cases of those diagnosed fall into one of the essential hypertension risk factors listed below while the remaining cases develop secondary hypertension due to another illness or condition.
Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
1. Age – your risk goes up as you get older. Men are more likely to have HPT through middle age. Most women develop high blood pressure after the age of 65.
2. Family history and race – if close family members have BP then your risk is higher. African Americans have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
3. Chronic conditions – diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea, and even pregnancy can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
4. Obesity – when you are overweight or obese, your heart must work harder to pump a higher volume of blood through your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients. The more you weigh, the harder your heart works. 85% of those with hypertension have a body mass index (BMI) over 25.
5. Inactivity – leading a sedentary lifestyle causes your “resting” heart rate to be higher and to spike with small amounts of activity. You are at greater risk for obesity if you are inactive.
6. Smoking – tobacco use spikes your heart rate during use but the inflammation also causes long-term damage to the lining of your arteries and causes them to constrict. Narrowing of the arteries is the primary cause of high blood pressure.
7. Alcohol – excessive alcohol consumption leads to inflammation that damages your heart. Men shouldn’t drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day and women shouldn’t drink more than 1 per day.
8. Stress – when under stress, your body produces cortisol and adrenaline. Chronic stress means your body is flooded with unnatural levels of these “stress hormones” which leads to rampant inflammation.
9. Hormonal birth control or replacement therapies – long-term use of oral contraceptives or post-menopausal drugs (more than five years) increases your risk of heart disease including high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure already, your doctor may not prescribe these medications.
10. Diet and/or vitamin deficiency – eating a diet high in sodium, dangerous fats, and refined sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup) gives your body zero nutrition and actually steals what you do have. Learning what to eat to lower blood pressure is critical to total body health!
What You Need to Know
High blood pressure is when your blood pumps through your vessels at a higher force than is healthy. Hypertension is caused by your blood volume being too high or your vessels being too narrow. There are two readings taken to determine your blood pressure:
• Systolic: This is the top number that shows at what force the blood is pumping out of your heart (how hard your heart is working). Blood pressure is considered “normal” when this number is below 120 consistently.
• Diastolic: This is the bottom number that shows at what force blood is pumping into the heart (when your heart is relaxing). Blood pressure is considered “normal” when this number is below 80 consistently.
When you have your blood pressure checked – and this can even be done in many pharmacies, groceries stores, and big box markets – the “normal” reading is 120/80. It is naturally lower while you sleep. High blood pressure is a reading of 140/90 and it should not be ignored.
Why Diet is the Key to a Longer, Stronger Life
There are so many moving parts to leading an active, healthy lifestyle but no one can deny that food is the foundation.
What you put into your body, that your body then breaks down for fuel to run every system inside you, is the first step to wellness through your very elder years.
Recently, the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kashmir – India reviewed hundreds of studies done on the effect of food on high blood pressure. They put together a list of the most promising discoveries from all over the world.
We’re going to feature the fourteen foods that can lower your blood pressure naturally and are readily available at most local markets or health food stores (because a food doesn’t do you any good if you can’t find it or afford it).
What to Eat to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
1. Garlic: A favorite on everyone’s lists, garlic (Allium sativum) has always shown incredible benefits to the human heart. The compound allicin helps to relax the muscles of the heart and widens the muscles of the heart (vasodilatation). The antioxidant effects are excellent for lowering inflammation and raising the body’s production of nitric oxide.
2. Flaxseed: Originally discovered in Egypt, flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is rich in α-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) which has been found beneficial for the treatment of heart disease by reducing the buildup of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Naturally anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, flaxseed is excellent for lowering high blood pressure.
3. Black Bean: The compounds found in black bean (Castanospermum austral) called saponin and glucoside have shown excellent results in lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in clinical trials.
4. Custard Apple: These apples (Annona muricata) are native to the Caribbean and Central America and showed excellent results in lowering blood flow resistance in the arteries.
5. Celery: Used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, celery (Apium graveolens) is a safe blood pressure treatment for women who are pregnant or nursing. It has been shown to relieve headaches and dizziness sometimes associated with high blood pressure and is a natural liver detoxifier.
6. Carrot: The underappreciated carrot (Daucus carota) has been used to treat many conditions (including high blood pressure) for thousands of years in holistic medicine. Scientists now realize that the anti-hypertensive effect is due to coumarin glycosides coded as DC-2 and DC-3. Initial results with animals and small clinical trials are promising.
7. Green Tea: Unfermented green tea (Camellia sinensis) lowers your risk of developing hypertension in the first place and many studies have linked it to brain health, heart health, and one way to lower your individual risk of cancer.
8. French Lavender: An extract of French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) called atropine has a similar effect on blood pressure as the pharmaceutical drug acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter produced naturally by the body.
9. Cacao (Dark Chocolate): The polyphenols in cacao (Theobroma cacao) are incredible for your entire body. Eating just a little (1 ounce) every day has been shown to lower blood pressure by several points, stimulates the production of nitric oxide, and keeps blood vessels supple and healthy. An added benefit is that it helps you feel full and satisfies cravings for other sweet or salty treats, which is wonderful for maintaining a healthy weight!
10. Tomato: The lycopene found in tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) – as well as many other essential vitamins and minerals – has been found to slow the development of artery hardening (atherosclerosis) and lower blood pressure. Even the canned varieties (organic if possible) are beneficial and don’t lose the valuable antioxidants during processing.
11. Radish: In mice, radish (Raphanus sativus) extract stimulated a significant drop in high blood pressure, depending on the dose. It eased arterial contractions safely and consistently.
12. Pomegranate: The juice of the pomegranate (Punica granatum) has shown promise in the treatment of high blood pressure. Good for total body wellness, pomegranate juice inhibits the enzymes (angiotensin converting enzymes) by more than 30% that increase blood pressure.
13. Basil: The effects of basil (Ocimum basilicum) are not long-lasting but if this is an herb that you include in your regular diet, the eugenol compound it contains could aid in lowering blood pressure during peak stress periods.
14. Ginger: The ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is well known for its health benefits. It has been found to improve circulation and relax the muscles that surround blood vessels. Most of the trials done for ginger in the treatment of high blood pressure are animal-based so more research will need to be done to confirm effects.
All of the foods listed above also have many uses for other aspects of health and wellness. Most are found in your local market and they have no side effects as long as you aren’t allergic or intolerant of a specific item on the list.
If you are currently dealing with hypertension, knowing what to eat to lower your blood pressure naturally cannot hurt you. The rest of your body will feel amazing!