Tasty ways to combat hypertension and reduce risk of heart attack and stroke by Lisa Turner
Nearly half of the US adults have high blood pressure, according to 2018 data from the American heart Association, and the number of deaths from high blood pressure increased by almost 38 percent. The good news: in many cases, it can be controlled by dietary changes alone. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet-which avoids salt, alcohol, and caffeine, and emphasizes vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains-has been shown to reduce blood pressure in just two weeks. Some foods are especially beneficial, so load your plate with these eight and protect yourself from heart attack and stroke.
Beet greens Are rich in magnesium, antioxidants, and potassium, a mineral that balances the effects of sodium in the body. A number paper of studies link dietary potassium with reduced blood pressure, and several meta-analyses showed that high potassium intake drops the risk of stroke by about 25 percent. Other high potassium foods include potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, lima beans, zucchini, and tomatoes.
Pomegranates are high in polyphenols, antioxidants with a beneficial effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In one study, people who drink a cup or more of pomegranate juice daily showed a decrease in both systolic (the maximum pressure your heart exerts while beating) and diastolic (the amount of pressure in your arteries between beats) numbers.
Flax is high in omega-3 fats, lignans, and fiber, all of which help protect against tight blood pressure. In one study, people with hypertension who ate flax for six months showed a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Whole flaxseeds have a more powerful affect than flax oil. Other seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, are also high in potassium and magnesium, and may have similar effects on blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.
Pistachios are rich and healthy fats, plus magnesium, potassium, and other compounds that reduce blood pressure. In one study, people with high LDL cholesterol who ate one serving a day of pistachios had a lower systolic blood pressure. Additional studies have suggested that other nuts may also have beneficial effects on blood pressure and blood vessel function.
Beets are high in polyphenols and nitric oxide, a compound that reduces inflammation and promotes vasodilation (widening of arteries) to reduce blood pressure. In one study, people who drink beet juice mixed with apple juice showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure only six hours later; other studies have shown similar results. Leafy greens and garlic also help increase nitric oxide in the body, reduce blood pressure, and protect against hypertension.
Hibiscus tea is rich in phenols and anthocyanins, antioxidants that help normalize cholesterol and lower blood pressure. In one study, people who drank three servings a day of hibiscus tea showed reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In another study, hibiscus tea was as effective at lowering blood pressure as the blood pressure medication Captopril. It was also more effective than hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), a diuretic used to treat hypertension, without causing the electrolyte and balances associated with the drug.
Yogurt and other dairy products may protect against high blood pressure. One review found a link between low-fat dairy, especially yogurt, and a reduced risk of hypertension; cheese did not show the same effect. In another study, women who 85 or more servings of yogurt per week showed a 20 percent reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure. Researchers believe calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other nutrients in dairy play a role. In addition, dairy products contain peptides, compounds with bioactive properties shown to affect blood pressure.
Wheat berries and other all greens are high in fiber and other compounds that protect against high blood pressure. In one study, people who ate three servings of whole wheat or other grains had reduced systolic blood pressure. Other studies show similar effects, and whole grains in general are linked with a reduction in the risk of overall cardiovascular disease. Enjoy if you are not sensitive to gluten containing grains or grains in general.