Worried about your blood pressure creeping up? If so you’re in good company. It turns out around one in three Americans is battling hypertension. That’s around 75 million of us.
But you can do something about it, lowering your blood pressure even without resorting to meds. Following are three ridiculously simple, and natural, ways to help tame your blood pressure you’ll love…
1. Savor an avocado:
Avocados aren’t just delicious, they also happen to be rich in the mineral potassium. Potassium helps your muscles contract, which means it’s important for healthy digestion and critical for keeping your heart beating.
But it’s the mineral’s other role in the body that makes potassium packed avocados a great way for some folks to help keep their blood pressure in check.
Potassium is an electrolyte which your kidneys rely on to do their job effectively. Your kidneys are constantly filtering your blood sucking out the excess fluid that can send your blood pressure climbing.
But to do their job most effectively there needs to be a proper balance between sodium and potassium. Which means we can all benefit from eating a diet that contains a decent amount of this important mineral. And while not everyone is salt sensitive, if you do happen to be one of those folks whose blood pressure is highly sensitive to sodium, adding more potassium rich foods to your diet could help bring your blood pressure numbers back into line.1,2,3,4
In a large population study a decrease of 50 mmol of potassium a day (around one medium sweet potato or less than an avocado) was associated with an decrease in systolic pressure of 3.4 mm Hg and a drop in diastolic pressure of 1.9 mm Hg.5
Not an avocado fan? Or just want to mix up the menu? Other potassium rich foods to choose from include sweet potatoes, spinach, and white beans.
2. Indulge in dark chocolate:
It’s true, eating delicious dark chocolate or cocoa powder could help you lower your blood pressure. The cocoa beans used to make dark chocolate and cocoa powder are filled with flavonoids, plant compounds which cause your blood vessels to open up or dilate.
In a comprehensive review of 133 trials published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that flavonoid-rich chocolate increased blood flow and significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.6
Of course this doesn’t mean you can start eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But treating yourself to a few squares of dark chocolate every week is a delicious way to help keep your blood pressure in the golden zone. Or give no-sugar-added organic cocoa powder a try. Stir a spoonful into your plain yogurt, sprinkle it into your steel-cut oatmeal, or blend it into your favorite smoothie recipe.
For a real treat one of my favorite ways to use cocoa powder is in Coconut Bombs. Mix together about five tablespoons of almond, peanut or sunflower butter, around two teaspoons of cocoa powder and a handful or two of organic unsweetened coconut flakes. Adjust the measurements to your own tastes.
Roll the mixture into balls (this can get a little messy), place on wax paper and pop into the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up. Enjoy!
3. Munch on blueberries:
[Bringing your blood pressure down might have just gotten a whole lot easier, not to mention tastier. It turns out delicious berries such as blueberries—which are brimming with polyphenols and flavonoids, plant compounds your heart loves—could be an easy way to help keep your blood pressure healthy.7,8
In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics a group of women who ate a daily dose of blueberries for two months had both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure drop significantly.9 Blood-flow boosting nitric oxide was likely behind the drop, which researchers say rose over the eight weeks.
And in another study, a team of American and British researchers exploring the effects of flavonoids on our health found that folks who ate more foods rich in anthocyanins had an eight percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than the people who ate the least of the compound.
The volunteers we ate a weekly serving of blueberries fared even better. They were 10 percent less likely to develop hypertension than participants who never ate the berries, according to the research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.10
1. “Salt sensitivity. Definition, conception, methodology, and long-term issues,” Hypertension. 1991 Jan;17(1 Suppl):I61-8
2. “Corcoran lecture: the case for or against salt in hypertension. Arthur Curtis Corcoran, MD (1909-1965). Tribute and prelude to Corcoran Lecture of 1988, Hypertension. 1989 Jun;13(6 Pt 2):696-705
3. “Salt Sensitivity of Blood Pressure in Humans,” Hypertension. 1996;27:481-490
4. “Genetics of salt-sensitive hypertension,” Curr Hypertens Rep. 2011 Feb;13(1):55-66
5. “Intersalt Cooperative Research Group. Intersalt: an international study of electrolyte excretion and blood pressure: results for 24-hour urinary sodium and potassium excretion,” BMJ 1988;297:319-28
6. “Flavonoids, flavonoid-rich foods, and cardiovascular risk: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jul;88(1):38-50
7. “Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health,” Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar; 68(3): 168–177
8. “Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):323-31
9. “Daily blueberry consumption improves blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with pre- and stage 1-hypertension: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial,” J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Mar;115(3):369-77
10. “Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):338-47
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