The Connection Between Nutrition And Your Heart
Good nutrition and a healthy heart go hand in hand. For example, following a heart-healthy diet can help reduce your total cholesterol and bad cholesterol, lower your blood sugars and triglycerides, and decrease your blood pressure. For instance, potassium which is found in many fruits and vegetables can help lower your blood pressure.
Even more importantly, making good diet choices can also address risk factors for heart disease and heart-related conditions. That means eating healthier foods can reduce or even eliminate the chance youll develop certain health issues down the line.
Lifestyle Changes To Combat High Blood Pressure
- Sleeping for 7-8 hours daily
- Stay physically active for five days a week, working out 30 minutes each day. In total, 150 minutes of being physically active every week.
- Reduce the amount of junk food.
- Eat meals at stipulated meal timing, following a proper dietary routine.
- Make sure you include all the food groups in the diet.
- Follow a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
Which Foods Should Be Included In A High Blood Pressure Diet Menu
Foods included on a high blood pressure diet menu are generally low in salt and sodium. Most doctors recommend consuming no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, though some doctors may suggest consuming no more than 2,300 mg a day.
Green leafy vegetables are an essential part of a high blood pressure food. These foods contain most essential nutrients as well as beneficial anti-oxidants, Dr. Tharakan adds.
Potassium helps your body eliminate sodium through urine, which is why a diet low in potassium may cause high blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend eating foods with high amounts of potassium to prevent sodium from building up in your bloodstream.
The DASH diet is one of the most highly recommended diets for people with high blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Foods in the DASH diet are high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. All these nutrients can naturally control blood pressure. The DASH diet also limits foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats.
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Tips To Reduce The Amount Of Sodium You Consume
Making simple changes in your diet to help reduce the amount of sodium you consume is a quick way to help lower blood pressure. Some tips include:
- Reducing the amount of salt you add to meals by adding flavour through other herbs and spices, such as chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander.
- Draining and rinsing canned foods to remove as much of the sodium-based liquid as possible.
- Opting for low-sodium versions of food products such as simmer sauces, stocks and pre-made curry bases if you use these.
- Reducing the amount you eat of smoked and processed meats, which tend to contain a lot of sodium.
- Reducing your intake of processed snacks like biscuits, chips and crackers.
Foods That Help Lower Blood Pressure
Many researchers have found that certain foods can lower high blood pressure. We look at some foods that may help and how to incorporate them into the diet.
In general, the United States Department of Agriculture considers a serving to be:
- 1 cup of cooked or raw vegetables or fruit
- 1 cup of 100% fruit juice
- 2 cups of raw leafy salad greens
- half a cup of dried fruit
For most ages, the USDA recommends consuming around 2 cups of fruit per day and 3 cups of vegetables per day, although this varies slightly according to age and sex.
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Tips For Following A High Blood Pressure Diet
Drastically changing your diet can be challenging, so Cochrane recommends starting slowly.
“If the plan is overwhelming, don’t try to do it all at once,” she says. Below are a few tips to start:
- Add a single serving of a fruit or vegetable with every meal or replace a pre-packaged snack with a fresh piece of fruit like an apple or orange.
- Stop using table salt as part of an effort to reduce sodium intake. Instead, opt for spices and fresh herbs.
- Keep a food diary or work with a dietician to help you understand your eating patterns and shift them to a healthier approach.
Rather than thinking of the diet as a restriction, Cochrane says to think of it as a way to give your body the best fuel possible. You don’t need to be perfect, and you can still indulge in the occasional sweet or salty treat.
“A good goal to strive for is to eat heart-healthy about 80% of the time,” Miller says.
Every Kitchen Cupboard Needs:
Wholegrain varieties of pasta, breakfast cereals and rice. Eating more wholegrains will help to lower your risk of heart disease, and they contain fibre which keeps you feeling full and aids digestion. Brown rice, wholewheat pasta and wholegrain cereals are good choices.
Nuts and seeds. These are a great source of minerals, nutrients and fibre. As they can also be high in fat, a good rule of thumb is to eat no more than handful a day. Avoid the roasted and salted types, the added will raise your blood pressure.
Canned fish, fruit, vegetables and beans. Canned products can be just as good as fresh or frozen. Choose options in water or their own juice and avoid foods tinned in oil, brine or syrup, or with added salt or sugar.
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Best Foods To Eat For High Blood Pressure Say Dietitians
High blood pressure is a serious diagnosis, but it can be managed with the right lifestyle changes. Chances are if you’ve been told by a doctor that you have high blood pressure or are at greater risk for it, you’ve also been warned about certain foods to stay away from, such as salty foods like chips, canned soups, and deli meats.
But what about some of the foods you should add to your diet? Getting the right nutrients and caring for your overall health can help you manage your levels and keep your health in top shape. To learn more, we asked a few dietitians to give us their recommendations for the best food for high blood pressure.
Read on to learn what they had to say, and for more healthy heart tips, check out The Best Foods to Eat If Heart Disease Runs In Your Family.
What Is Considered High Blood Pressure
According to the guidelines by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, published in May 2018 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the criteria for high blood pressure are as follows:
- Normal Less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury
- Elevated Systolic between 120 and 129 mmHg and diastolic less than 80 mmHg
- Stage 1 Systolic between 130 and 139 mmHg or diastolic between 80 and 89 mmHg
- Stage 2 Systolic at least 140 mmHg or diastolic at least 90 mmHg
- Hypertensive Crisis Systolic over 180 mmHg or diastolic over 120 mmHg, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage
A large study of more than 9,000 patients, published in May 2021 in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that participants who got their systolic pressures below 120 mmHg saw their incidence of heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and death drop substantially in comparison with those who followed a more standard treatment plan, where the goal was to reduce their systolic pressure to less than 140 mmHg.
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Why Is The Dash Diet The Best Diet To Lower High Blood Pressure
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet is a way of eating that, as the name implies, was developed to stop hypertension. Unlike many fad diets that have their time in the spotlight and then fizzle out, the DASH diet has been popular since the early 1990s and isn’t stopping any time soon, thanks to the results that have been seen by people following this diet.
If you are going to follow the DASH diet, plant-based foods will make up the bulk of your plate. Foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes will be the shining stars, and ultra-processed foods that contain large amounts of added sugars and salt will only make a rare appearance.
Older data suggests that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks. And over and over again, results from large, randomized, controlled trials show that the DASH diet reduces blood pressure significantly. Because of this strong evidence, DASH has been a consistent part of national blood pressure and dietary guidelines.
Also Cut Back On Processed Food
Lastly, dietitians warn that while adding healthier foods to your diet can help your blood pressure levels, it’s also important to avoid certain foods that may be raising it.
“Eating a diet that is rich in processed foods is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure because these foods are typically high in trans fats, added sugars, and added salts. Processed foods are also often made with refined grains instead of whole grains, which may increase inflammation in the body,” says Coleman.
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Best Foods For Lowering Blood Pressure
So now that you know the nutrients implicated in hypertension, as well as those that can help to normalize blood pressure, its time to get specific. Here are nine great foods to include in your diet to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. Since theyre all plant-based, theyre also naturally good sources of fiber. Some are rich in potassium and/or magnesium, and some deliver healthy nitrates that your body can turn into NO. After a brief introduction to each food, Ill also share a couple of fun and delicious recipes that will have you eager to add them to your blood pressure-lowering diet.
Other Fruits And Vegetables
Adding more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables of all kinds to your diet can help lower your blood pressure, Patton says. And, research shows it could help you avoid developing hypertension. In fact, the DASH diet, an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, suggests eating four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables every day.
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Exercise Your Way To Lower Numbers
Diet isnt the only nondrug strategy for lowering your numbers. A 2017 review of 53 studies involving older adults, in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, found that both aerobic exercise and strength training lowered blood pressure by 5 systolic and 3 diastolic points. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on most days and targeting your entire body with weights at least twice a week.
A type of training called isometrics has shown potential for reducing blood pressure. Traditional strength training involves lifting and lowering weights or otherwise moving your joints during a routine. With isometrics, you maintain one position with the muscles contractedthink planks, wall sits, and holding weights in each hand out to your sides.
If you have hypertension, ask your doctor for a referral to an exercise program thats designed to improve heart health. Hospitals, community centers, and YMCAs may have programs.
Below you’ll find the top home blood pressure arm and wrist monitors from Consumer Reports’ tests.
Editors Note: This article also appeared in the November 2019 issue of Consumer Reports On Health.
Why Maintaining A Healthy Blood Pressure Matters
Maintaining a normal blood pressure is important as it allows nutrients and oxygen to be delivered to all parts of the body, including important organs like your heart, brain, and kidneys. According to the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 70 percent of adults 65 and older have high blood pressure . If you have hypertension, you are put at risk for a stroke and heart disease, which are leading causes of death in the country. By eating a low sodium diet rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium called the DASH diet, you can take the necessary steps to lower your blood pressure. Read on to learn about foods you can incorporate into your diet to stay healthy.
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Try Blood Pressure Support Supplements
A small study in the International Journal of Hypertension found magnesium supplementation can reduce blood pressure in small amountsAladin A, Chevli P, Ahmad MI, Rasool S, Herrington D. Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019 73:12. . Talk to your doctor before taking magnesium supplements, especially if you have kidney disease. You can also safely incorporate high-magnesium foods into your diet. Dr. Desai recommends foods like leafy green vegetables and unsalted almonds.
Beyond magnesium, research in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology suggests potassium, L-arginine, vitamin C, cocoa flavonoids, beetroot juice, coenzyme Q10, controlled-release melatonin and aged garlic extract may also help reduce blood pressureBorghi C, Cicero AFG.. Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2017 83:163171. .
Low Blood Pressure And Pregnancy
A drop in blood pressure is common during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. The circulatory system starts to expand, and hormonal changes cause your blood vessels to dilate.
If you experience low blood pressure symptoms, let your OB-GYN know. You may need to pay more attention to your hydration during this time.
Pregnancy-related low blood pressure usually goes away later on in the pregnancy or shortly after delivery.
Its important to have your blood pressure checked and monitored during pregnancy to eliminate any underlying causes for it, such as anemia or an ectopic pregnancy.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your overall activity level and dietary habits to determine what changes, if any, you should make.
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What Foods Can Cause High Blood Pressure
Many things can affect your blood pressure. Hypertension is often caused by a combination of factors, including family history, age, lifestyle, and stress levels. While the food you eat can be one of these factors, eating specific foods is not guaranteed to cause high blood pressure.
However, if you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure, some foods can contribute to this.
Many foods blamed for high blood pressure are high in sodium or are highly processed, but there are a few other culprits that you may not expect. Several of the main foods that may cause high blood pressure include:
Highly processed meat like cold cuts, bacon, and hot dogs contain a significant amount of sodium, which makes sliced chicken breast a better option for your daily sandwich.
Food preserved in this way like soup or stew tends to be loaded with preservatives and salt.
High-sodium snack foods
Many snack foods like potato chips, pretzels, and nuts contain added salt, so the unsalted variety is the better choice.
Food cooked in oil like French fries and chicken strips are often full of salt and saturated fat, which means they should be avoided altogether to prevent high blood pressure.
Some studies have shown that red meats may be capable of raising your blood pressure.³
Vegetable oil and margarine
How To Stock Your Kitchen Healthily:
Download our free . It can help you make healthier choices when shopping. By scanning the barcode of a product the app will tell you how much , and it contains and find similar but healthier alternatives.
Find out more about the foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat and the healthier options available.
Get more ideas for healthy eating from our meal plan in , our members magazine.
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What Foods Lower Blood Pressure
If you’re following a high blood pressure diet, most of your food should be:
- 4-5 cups of popcorn
- ¼ cup of unsalted nuts
- ½ cup of berries
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
Cochrane suggests experimenting with new foods and good combinations to find those that are most enjoyable for you.
Life After The Meal Plan
Find more recipes on our site
Your journey doesnt end after 7 days of Mediterranean recipes for high blood pressure. Its about finding recipes that can become staples in your household and creating eating habits that actually last.
We would like to take a moment to note that this post is for information purposes only. It does not claim to provide medical advice or to be able to treat any medical condition. If you have any concerns regarding your health please contact your medical practitioner before making changes.
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Why Does Your Diet Play A Role In Managing High Blood Pressure
If you currently have high blood pressure or are at risk of developing this condition, you may know something about how diet affects blood pressure. It’s important to learn more about the correlation between diet and blood pressure to ensure you make smart choices for your health.
What we eat affects how our bodies work. It’s widely agreed upon that a healthy diet consists of lean meat, plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from plant-based sources, fish, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Even though we know what is healthy, we often reach for unhealthy foods. Besides tasting good, they are quick, readily available, and may even comfort us when we’re stressed. Much of the junk food found on the grocery store shelves only satisfy us for a short time and keep us coming back for more.
But eating an unhealthy diet can lead to various problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. What you eat absolutely affects² your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about your personal risk of hypertension, and how you can improve your diet and lifestyle.