Fighting Hypertension: Nutrition Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is something that should be taken seriously no matter your age. Hypertension is most often associated with those who are older or obese, but the truth is that high blood pressure can affect anybody. While it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to combat hypertension is to eat. This article offers a few quick and easy nutrition tips to help you get a head start on fighting hypertension.
What is Hypertension?
Before we delve into how to combat it, it might be helpful to explain what exactly is happening in your body when you have high blood pressure. In a healthy body, the heart pumps a specific volume of blood through unobstructed arteries. The volume of blood pumped and the level of obstruction present in your arteries is what determines blood pressure. When your arteries are clogged or damaged, it is more difficult for blood to flow through them properly. This means your heart has to work harder and pump more blood to create enough pressure to keep your blood flowing. This increase in blood pressure is hypertension, and it puts you at risk for a host of serious health problems.
Heart-Healthy Nutrition Hacks
Now that you understand how hypertension happens, you can begin to modify your diet to incorporate more foods that will help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. The foods listed below are all beneficial to your heart health.
Whole grains: Whole grain foods are rich in potassium, fiber, folate and magnesium. They also help maintain your body's sensitivity to insulin, which is important for fighting off diabetes. Additionally, adding just a couple of pieces of whole grain bread to your diet can help keep your weight down by keeping you feeling fuller, longer.
Lean meats: Poultry and fish have both been shown to help combat hypertension. Chicken contains proteins that function like ACE inhibitors, which are a class of drugs whose primary function is to lower blood pressure. Fish and fish oils are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are great at reducing blood cholesterol levels and helping prevent arterial buildup.
Nuts: Nuts, like fish, also contain a lot of healthy, unsaturated fatty acids. They also contain potassium, magnesium and very little sodium, making them ideal foods for keeping blood pressure low. The American Heart Association recommends moderate daily consumption to promote heart health.
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies are an important part of any healthy, balanced diet, but adding extra servings of both will do wonders for your blood pressure. Potassium-rich fruits like bananas, currants, apricots and oranges are a sweet, heart-friendly alternative to cookies and cakes that will lower elevated blood pressure. Starchy vegetables like beans, peas, lentils and sweet potatoes are all excellent hypertension fighters, as are dark, leafy veggies like spinach, kale and lettuce.
Eating for heart health is a vital component of fighting hypertension. Remember that staying active and limiting alcohol intake is equally critical for maintaining a healthy heart for years to come.