Health Curiosities

Can Miracle Foods Lower Blood Pressure?

Veggies and Fruit and Fish ... Oh My!

Are you trying to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol? If so, you are at an advantage since most of the advised eating guidelines are so similar to the healthy dietary advice which most of us have already seen. Start by making sure that your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables and low - fat dairy products. Consume red meat and sweets in moderation. Watch how much saturated fat and cholesterol you're getting and make sure your total fats are moderate. And of course try to consume less salt and sodium.

Are there any foods that genuinely help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol? The answer is a qualified yes. And this two
part article will give you some suggestions to get you started. Part one looks at some specific foods reported to lower blood pressure:

  • Beetroot Juice
    This unique beverage has been in the news for its ability to lower blood pressure. There is a problem however. Beetroot juice is hard to get, it's expensive and you may not be able to drink large amounts of it every day.

  • Chocolate
    It will certainly taste better than the beetroot juice, and it has firm scientific support for reducing blood pressure. But eating it in large quantities may have some undesirable side effects on the waistline.

  • Bananas
    They are loaded with potassium, and potassium works with sodium to help regulate fluid balance. Studies done in India suggest that 5 bananas per day can lower blood pressure half as effective as prescription medications. However, there is quite a bit of sugar in 5 bananas, so you could try eating 2 a day along with some of these other foods.

  • Fish
    Obviously not the deep fried kind you get in restaurants. Salmon is high Omega 3, a fatty acid that is very heart healthy. Not only does Omega 3 lower blood pressure but it also has been shown to stop and even reverse angina. You may want to limit your salmon consumption due to the possible dangers associated with high mercury levels.

  • Celery
    It is a great hypertension fighter because it contains unique oil that relaxes the muscles that regulate blood pressure, improving flow and lowering pressure. As a bonus, it is also a natural diuretic without the harmful side effects. Try eating (or juicing) about 4 stalks a day.

  • Whole Grains
    Whole grain foods such as hearty breads, natural oat products and barley are very good for you. They are a powerful source of complex carbohydrates and can help to control cholesterol and balance secretion of hormones like insulin. These hormone balancing effects can help decrease appetite and lower body weight, which is another important facet of high blood pressure control.

  • Fruits & Vegetables
    We already mentioned bananas and celery specifically, but all fruits and vegetables work to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol. Steaming them is better than boiling them, but eating them raw is the best. The easiest rule of thumb to remember is to eat at least three different colors of vegetables with each meal. So, a green lettuce salad with orange carrots and red tomatoes would be perfect!

  • Lean Meats
    Poultry, fish and lean pork are generally what people think of as lean meats. However, buffalo tastes very similar to beef, and contains less than half the fat and only one third of the calories as white meat chicken. Ostrich is nutritionally similar and both meats can be substituted for beef in any recipe.

So, let's get back to where we started. You should try not to focus too much on specific foods, but on your overall diet. The way to stay healthy and prevent high blood pressure is to eat a varied diet of natural, unprocessed foods. You may want to talk to your Health Coach about the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension), which is really just about eating a healthy diet including lots of fruits, grains and vegetables with fewer fatty meats and other high
fat or sugary foods.

Watch for next week's article full of food suggestions to help lower cholesterol...

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