Nearly 68 million Americans – one in every three U.S. adults – have high blood pressure, and 20 percent don’t know they have it, according to the American Medical Group Foundation. While certain medications can help lower your blood pressure and risk for heart attack or stroke, simple changes in your diet can significantly reduce your blood pressure levels, both right away and in the long term. If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, or just want to start eating healthier, here are seven foods to start incorporating into your diet.
We’ve all heard that berries are great for heart health, high in fiber and can lower cholesterol, but did you know that they can also lower your blood pressure levels?
Blueberries and strawberries are known to contain antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins. In a study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that people who have a high intake of anthocyanins had an eight percent reduction in the risk of high blood pressure compared to those who had a low anthocyanin intake.
2. Potassium-Rich Foods
Foods that are high in potassium have been shown to reduce blood pressure. Potassium helps your kidneys flush sodium out of your system, which in turn causes your blood pressure levels to decrease. Sweet potatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, spinach, bananas and white beans are all great sources of potassium that taste good, too.
According to a 2015 study, researchers found that drinking red beet juice led to lower blood pressure levels in people with hypertension who drank 250 milliliters, or about one cup, of the juice every day for four weeks. In some patients, positive effects were noticed within 24 hours.
4. Dark chocolate
Good news for all of the chocolate lovers out there — this sweet treat can actually help lower your blood pressure! Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, making it a heart healthy snack. Remember, when picking out your chocolate bar, make sure you’re choosing high-quality chocolate that contains a minimum of 70 percent cocoa. We know it tastes delicious, but only consume a single square (about 1 ounce) each day.
5. Fatty Fish
Fish that are high in omega-3, such as salmon or mackerel, can decrease blood pressure and even prevent the onset of hypertension. When buying fish, always opt for wild (when possible) to avoid any contaminants and pollutants that can occur in farm-raised fish.
*If you don’t love the taste of fish, try taking fish oil pills instead.
Rich in antioxidant polyphenols, pomegranate juice has been shown to reverse atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation, which in turn lowers your blood pressure. In fact, according to a recent study, it has been proven that drinking just one cup of pomegranate juice for 28 days can lower your blood pressure in the short term. Try adding pomegranate seeds or pomegranate juice to your morning smoothie!
Not only are pistachios a high-protein, high-fiber snack that will help keep you full throughout the day, they also can reduce blood pressure during times of stress, according to a study. Whether you grab a handful of pistachios to snack on, throw them on top of your salad or blend them into a yummy pesto pasta sauce, try incorporating these healthy nuts into your daily diet.
If you feel overwhelmed trying to fit all of these foods into your everyday diet, start by cutting out processed and pre-packaged snacks. Fill your fridge and pantry with healthier alternatives like nuts, blueberries, spinach and flaxseeds and try to reach for those instead.
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