High blood pressure (hypertension) is fast becoming a global epidemic. And what makes it particularly dangerous is that it presents no warning signs or symptoms, so most people don’t realize they have it. Yet, it leads to disastrous complications, such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.
Provided it is detected timely enough, high blood pressure is very easy to control. Many medications are available that are effective in lowering blood pressure. But then, your diet also has a role to play. In fact, making necessary changes to your diet can be as effective as medications in lowering blood pressure.
Now, making healthy changes to your diet when you have high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out your favorite delicacies and replacing them with bland, unseasoned foods. Though you will need to cut down on your sodium intake, what you take in is just as important as what you take out.
Here are surprising foods that can help you keep your blood pressure on the low:
According to research, taking 1 to 1.5 grams of calcium a day helps to keep blood pressure within healthy limits. Though purchasing a bottle of calcium supplements might come first to mind, eating foods rich in calcium is in fact better — and usually cheaper.
Plain, non-fat yoghurt is the richest dietary source of calcium. So, it is recommended that you take at least two cups a day. Aside lowering your blood pressure, it also keeps your digestive system healthy and effective by promoting the growth of “friendly” probiotic bacteria that are essential for digestion.
- Red wine
No doubt, alcohol increases your blood pressure when consumed too much, and it predisposes you to several other health concerns. However, when taken in moderation (and only in moderation), red wine helps to lower your blood pressure. In addition, it reduces blood sugar, soothes your arteries, and reduces your risk of diabetes.
Red wine provides those benefits due to the presence in it, of ethyl alcohol and antioxidant polyphenols, all of which are believed to lower blood pressure in combination.
- Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate protects against heart and vascular disease, and helps to control high blood pressure. This is because it contains high concentrations of bioactive phytochemicals that help to lower blood pressure and keep the heart healthy.
So, if your blood pressure is at a level that calls for concern, feel free to eat dark chocolate. This will not only satisfy your chocolate craving, but it will also lower your blood pressure. That’s a two-point advantage.
Bananas are very rich in potassium, which is the most effective mineral in lowering blood pressure. To bring your blood pressure down, you need to go beyond cutting out sodium and consume more potassium as well. Several studies have revealed that the shortage of potassium as well as restriction of its intake can cause blood pressure spikes even in individuals with no previous concerns.
Potassium offsets the harmful effects of sodium. So, since lowering sodium intake (to less than 1.5g a day) is a must for people with high blood pressure, increasing potassium intake (to about 4.7g a day) is also highly recommended. To get up this amount of potassium, eat 5-10 bananas every day, if possible.
Avocado is even a richer source of potassium than bananas. And it also contains a variety of other heart-healthy vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and monounsaturated fat. So, where you avocados are more abundant than bananas, take avocados instead.