Foods That Lower Blood Pressure
Learn which foods to eat and which foods to avoid to lower blood pressure naturally
If you have high blood pressure, your diet is one of the primary ways by which you can lower your blood pressure numbers without medication. Combined with appropriate lifestyle changes and targeted nutritional support, changing your diet can not only reduce your blood pressure numbers, but significantly improve your overall cardiovascular health. Here are some recommendations to help you get started.
Foods that can help lower blood pressure:
Foods to avoid if you have high blood pressure:
Doctors at the University of Chicago studying the Oriental custom of using celery as a food to lower blood pressure discovered that celery contains the chemical 3-n-butyl phthalide. This smoothes the muscles lining blood vessels, which increases vessel diameter and allows for easier blood flow at lower pressures.
Using the recommended Oriental dosages to lower mild cases of high blood pressure, one would eat about four ounces of celery (about a cup of chopped celery) daily. You should begin to see results after only a week or two.
Fish or Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil lower blood cholesterol, protect arteries, and can even lower blood pressure levels as much as 10 points. It has also been discovered that the protein in fish may help protect against stroke! Fish protein contains high levels of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and taurine. When these two amino acids were added to the diet of hypertensive test animals, the stroke rate dropped from 90 to 20 percent.
To get the benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, try eating a six-ounce portion of oily fish several days a week.
If you don't like fish and the cost of fish oil supplements is prohibitive, flaxseed or flax oil can have similar benefits at a nominal cost. Taking a tablespoon of flax oil daily can have a great impact on high blood pressure.
For thousands of years, the pomegranate has been revered as the "fruit of life." One of its remarkable powers is to improve cardiovascular health.
In one study, pomegranate juice was given to patients with hardening of the carotid arteries. Of the 19 patients (5 women and 14 men, 65–75 years old), 10 received 250 mL of 100 percent pomegranate juice daily, and the other nine were given a placebo. After one year, the participants who were on the placebo had an additional 9 percent increase in the thickness of their carotid arteries. However, the patients drinking pomegranate juice showed a 35 percent decrease in thickness, with a 13 percent reduction in just the first three months.
As you might guess, the blood pressures of the patients on the placebo didn’t change—but the systolic pressures of those drinking pomegranate juice dropped from an average of 174 to an average of 162 mm Hg in just one month. After 12 months, it had fallen even further, to an average of 152 mm Hg.
If you drink pomegranate juice to naturally lower your blood pressure, be sure your juice has no added sugars.
Hibiscus tea has been a traditional remedy for high blood pressure in Iran and other countries around the world. In one study, drinking hibiscus tea for just 12 days reduced systolic pressure by an average 11.7 percent and diastolic pressure by 10.7 percent.
However, this remedy is one that must be used continuously to maintain its positive results. When participants in the same study stopped drinking the tea for just three days, their blood pressure began to creep upward—systolic pressure by 7.9 percent and diastolic pressure by 5.6 percent. I’ve also found this to be true in my own experience.
Look specifically for tea made from Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is generally made from the flowers and fruit of the plant.
Because they are a good source of nitrate, beets and beet juice are excellent foods to lower blood pressure. Nitrate is converted by your body into the gas nitric oxide (NO2), which relaxes the small, smooth muscles in the walls of blood vessels, causing them to dilate. NO2 also has antiplatelet effects, which lessen the clotting tendency of blood. Both of these effects allow for an immediate increase in blood flow.
Beets and beet juice are relatively inexpensive, and you should begin to see benefits immediately. It should be noted that at the nitrates in beets are not destroyed during cooking, which makes cooked beets just as beneficial.
Depending on soil conditions (they have a lot to do with nitrate content), other vegetables are also high in nitrates. These include radishes, kale, celery, lettuce, mustard greens, turnip tops, spinach, Chinese cabbage, regular cabbage, eggplant, leeks, scallions, potatoes, string beans, and carrots. Radish and kale, in particular, can be even higher in nitrates than beets.
In a study where patients took a fiber tablet called Fiber Trim Plus, their blood pressure went down. Systolic pressure dropped 10 points, and diastolic pressure dropped 5 points. I doubt there’s anything magic in this particular product, however. By adding more fruit, whole grain, and vegetable roughage, I feel certain the same results can be achieved with diet.
When I was in Cuba, oftentimes my meals would end with the fruit of the guava tree. While the fruit is not that common in this country, it is abundant in Cuba and many other countries nearer to the equator. In those areas it is often referred to as the "apple of the tropics." Considering what we know about this fruit, that might be a very appropriate name. It may well be that "a guava a day also keeps the doctor away."
Researchers in Moradaban, India found that guava fruit has positive effects on high blood pressure. Their controlled study involved 120 patients with high blood pressure. Sixty-one of the patients ate one guava fruit (3½ ounces) each day before a meal. The other 59 made no changes in their diet.
After 12 weeks, the patients eating the guava fruit had an average reduction in their systolic blood pressure of nine points, and their diastolic pressure dropped eight points.
The availability of guava appears to be its only drawback. Ask at your local health food store or supermarket if you can purchase them in your area.
Though often overlooked as a cause of high blood pressure, sugar can be the biggest culprit of all. Studies have shown over and over that sugar increases blood pressure, as well as heart and artery disease. Insulin, which is needed to regulate blood sugar, causes salt retention and is thought to contribute to cholesterol and fats attaching to arterial walls. Also, excess sugar is quickly converted to blood fats, like triglycerides.
Moderate amounts of alcohol (less than three beers, mixed drinks, or glasses of wine a day) can actually lower blood pressure. However, drinking more than that often leads to hypertension. If you have more than three drinks a day, you can naturally lower blood pressure 10 to 15 points by cutting back or eliminating alcohol.
It is estimated that 56 percent of total calories in the "average" American diet come from fat. Lowering your fat intake by 25 percent can naturally lower blood pressure an average of 10 points. This change also reduces risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.
As with my other recommendations for lowering blood pressure naturally, work with your doctor to monitor your pressure closely if you're taking a prescription blood pressure medication. As the natural approach takes hold, you may need to adjust (or even eliminate) your dosage.
More Dr. Williams Advice on Blood Pressure
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For more than 25 years, Dr. David Williams has traveled the world researching alternative therapies for our most common health problems—therapies that are inexpensive and easy to use, and therapies that treat the root cause of a problem rather than just its symptoms. More About Dr. Williams
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