21 Jul EAT TO LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 million American adults have high blood pressure-that’s 1 of every 3 adults. Despite this prevalence, however, only 52% of these individuals seem to have their condition under control. High blood pressure costs the nation $46 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat high blood pressure, and missed days of work.
Why Blood Pressure Matters
About 7 of every 10 people having their first heart attack have high blood pressure.
About 8 of every 10 people having their first stroke have high blood pressure.
About 7 of every 10 people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure.
Kidney disease is also a major risk factor for high blood pressure.
Modifying Your Lifestyle
Before considering pharmaceutical medications, lifestyle modifications should serve as first-line treatment. The more lifestyle modifications an individual can make the better. According to Janet Brill, a cardiovascular disease prevention expert and author “Randomized controlled clinical studies have demonstrated a powerful additive effect of combination lifestyle therapy”.
This includes: limiting alcohol intake, weight loss, regular physical activity, and reducing sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mg/day.
The DASH meal plan is known as the number one lifestyle recommendation for reducing blood pressure. It focuses on increasing whole foods and low-fat dairy while limiting total and saturated fats. It’s “rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with the additional inclusion of legumes, nuts, lean poultry, fish, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products,” Brill says. It is also high in: potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber, which have all been demonstrated to have a positive effect on blood pressure.
Cocoa and dark chocolate contain flavanols, compounds that help arteries relax, widen, and become more flexible. Research has shown that “moderate” amounts of either unsweetened cocoa or dark chocolate with a cocoa content of about 70% can reduce blood pressure.
Soybeans and other soy foods also have an abundance of heart-healthy nutrients that can decrease blood pressure. Soy contains isoflavones, plant chemicals that are similar to the human hormone estrogen. They also contain potassium, fiber, and calcium, all of which play a protective role in lowering blood pressure.
The FDA currently recommends that Americans aim to consume 25 g of soy protein per day. Great choices include: soy milk, edamame, and soy nuts.
There are so many benefits to including omega-3 foods in anyone’s diet. Mackerel, salmon, herring, and tuna, are all great fish sources. For those who exclude fish, flaxseed, cod liver, walnuts, and canola oils are also good choices. For supplements, look for one with a DHA: EPA ratio of 2:1.
Taking control of your blood pressure is key to increasing longevity and quality of life. The importance of lifestyle and diet can not be overstressed as they play a massive role on health outcomes for each individual.