When it comes to healthy blood pressure, it is just as important to eat the right food as it is to avoid the wrong ones. In order to lower your blood pressure (as most people who have a problem with blood pressure tend to have too high, not too low) you should eat a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy goods, as well as avoiding alcohol, caffeine, sugars, saturated fats and cholesterol. Doing so can lower your blood pressure by up to 14mm Hg.
OK, avoiding most of these is easy enough, and cholesterol is about increasing the good kind (HDLs) and getting less of the “bad” kind (LDLs) – though both kinds are necessary for proper nutrition. What about getting the right foods?
There are three key nutrients that help lower blood pressure; Folate, magnesium, and potassium.
When the potassium levels are low in your body, it begins to retain sodium, and this leads to higher blood pressure. There is no point in lowering salt intake if you do not also increase potassium intake. Numerous studies have been done on this, and the findings show that increased potassium levels lead to significant drops in both systolic and diastolic levels. Getting your potassium from food rather than a supplement is the recommended course of action.
Foods that are high in potassium include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beet greens, white beans, yoghurt, clams, prunes, carrots, molasses, tuna, halibut, soy beans, winter squash, bananas, milk, and oranges.
Combine the potassium with magnesium and Folate, and it will lead to even lower blood pressure, for they work together to give even better results. Magnesium seems to have a correlative connection with potassium. The lower the magnesium is, the lower the potassium levels. The inverse is not necessarily true, indicating that the magnesium acts in conjunction with the potassium.
Foods that are high in magnesium include spinach, swiss chard, squashes, mackerel, many types of beans, brown rice, avocadoes, yoghurt, bananas, figs, dark chocolate, pears, soy cheese, black-eyed peas, most nuts, Pollock and salmon.
Folate is essential for normal cellular metabolism. Without it the body has difficulty to metabolize homocysteine, which can cause damage to blood vessels. Folate also helps make the blood vessels more elastic, allowing them to dilate and contract as needed through nitric oxide. Studies indicate that if a person gets 400mg of Folate per day they will significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular deaths (by around 28 000 per year).
Folate can be found in most leafy greens, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, brussel sprouts, beets, potatoes, avocado, papaya, beans, lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, and the organs of meat.
In addition to this there are other nutrients that help.
Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that protects against the hardening of arteries, and is incorporated into the LDL cholesterol. This helps to prevent the damage done by free radicals, and it reduces peroxidation (the oxidative degradation of lipids, which causes cell damage), improves LDL breakdown, reduces the chances of excessive platelet aggregation (which causes clotting), increases the HDL levels, and it helps to breakdown fibrin, which is a clot-forming protein.
You can find vitamin E in chili powder, dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, paprika, toasted almonds, almond butter, roasted sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, peanuts, peanut butter, wheat germ, sockeye salmon, tuna, tomatoes, oatmeal, broccoli, green olives, asparagus, spinach, swiss chard, kale, rice, mangoes, kiwi, dried apricots, butternut squash, red bell peppers, and avocados.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Low-fat milk provides both vitamins D and calcium, and together they help to reduce blood pressure, by as much as 15%.
Vitamin D can be found in milk, eggs, liver, orange juice (most is fortified with vitamin D), salmon, snapper, beef liver, pork, mackerel, trout, herring, tuna, halibut, and margarine. Calcium can be found in dairy products, of course, but also can be found in leafy greens, broccoli, edamame peas, bok choy, figs, oranges, sardines, salmon, okra, white beans, tofu, and almonds.