What is high blood pressure?
Consistent high blood pressure — also known as hypertension — can cause damage to your blood vessels and have long-term impacts on your health. Fortunately, you can take action to manage your high blood pressure, with and without medication. Remedies include:
- Managing your weight
- Minimizing your salt intake
- Developing positive fitness habits
One way to lower your blood pressure quickly is through the food you eat. Avoiding caffeine, saturated fat, and cholesterol and seeking out foods rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy are effective ways to manage hypertension.
High blood pressure is high pressure within the arteries, which are responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Hypertension is a common health issue that can lead to an increased chance of stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, vision problems, memory issues, and sexual health concerns.
Foods that lower blood pressure
A healthy and balanced diet is a great way to prevent and manage high blood pressure — especially in its early stages. For chronic high blood pressure, diet is shown to be especially effective when used with medication prescribed by your doctor. Foods that help you lower your blood pressure include:
Research shows that omega-3 fats have a noticeable impact on heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fats, making them an essential food for managing blood pressure.
Seeds, nuts, and legumes
Some seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, may provide benefits for managing hypertension. Pumpkin seeds are rich in amino acids, potassium, and magnesium, all of which can contribute to lowering blood pressure.
Studies show that healthful and nutritious nuts, such as pistachios, are helpful for managing high blood pressure and supporting heart health. Nuts, which are high in potassium, are especially effective in helping to lower high blood pressure.
Along with nutrient-rich beans and legumes, seeds and nuts are excellent foods to incorporate into your diet, either through snacks or other means.
Whole grain carbohydrates
Research shows that, when managing hypertension, it is best to eat carbohydrate-rich foods made from whole grains rather than refined white flour. Therefore, when choosing carbohydrates such as breads and pastas, look for whole-grain or multigrain options to help lower your blood pressure.
Fruits and vegetables
It is important to trade sugary and salty snacks for vegetables and fruits when managing high blood pressure. Even choosing a piece of fruit over drinking fruit juice can have lasting benefits.
Studies show that the nutrients found in citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruit, can have a significant impact on lowering blood pressure. However, grapefruit can interfere with heart medication, so it is important to talk to your doctor before adding this particular citrus to your diet. Antioxidant-rich berries have also been shown to help reduce high blood pressure.
For a more savory addition to your diet, celery, carrots, and leafy greens have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing blood pressure.
Using healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil, soybean oil, or safflower oil is an important part of a diet meant to manage high blood pressure.
Risks and outlook
Other ways to promote lower blood pressure include choosing fresh foods over processed foods and minimizing sodium (salt). If you are overweight, decrease your caloric intake to trim extra weight and lower your blood pressure. You might also consider keeping a food journal or tracking your foods with an app.
While certain foods can help lower blood pressure, they cannot replace prescription medications. You should talk to your doctor or a dietitian to determine the right diet for you.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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Advances in Nutrition: "Food Groups and Risk of Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies."
American Journal of Hypertension: "Effect of Dietary Pulses on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Controlled Feeding Trials."
Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice: "The effects of pumpkin seed oil supplementation on arterial hemodynamics, stiffness and cardiac autonomic function in postmenopausal women."
Current Hypertension Reports: "Dietary Approaches to Prevent Hypertension."
Current Hypertension Reports: "Dietary Patterns and Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Beating high blood pressure with food."
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.
REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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