High blood pressure, or hypertension, can generate major health problems, including increasing one’s risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and heart failure. Foods that lower blood pressure include low-sodium foods, foods low in calories and fat, and whole grain foods. There are also specific types of foods that are believed to help lower high blood pressure, including skim milk, spinach, and bananas.
Some of the most significant foods that lower blood pressure are foods low in sodium. The amount of sodium in one’s diet is a major factor in blood pressure, and eating foods low in sodium can reduce high blood pressure. A healthy person is advised to eat no more than 2,400 mg of sodium a day, while someone struggling with high blood pressure is recommended to consume closer to 1,500 mg a day.
Good examples of foods low in sodium are vegetables, fruits and whole grains. When choosing foods low in sodium, pay attention to labels. Sodium is found on top of pretzels and crackers, where it is clearly visible, but it is also in foods you may never expect, such as canned vegetables. A good rule of thumb to remember when choosing low-sodium foods is that fresh, unprocessed foods are usually low in sodium, while heavily processed foods are more likely to be higher in sodium.
Another high-risk factor in high blood pressure is weight. An overweight person is much more likely to have high blood pressure than a person of a healthy weight. Foods that lower blood pressure in overweight people are usually low in calories and fat and high in nutrition. This means focusing on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats such as chicken and turkey without the skin. Calorie intake must also be monitored if these foods are to successfully lower blood pressure.
Studies show that eating whole grains may lower high blood pressure. When whole grains replaced highly processed and refined grains in diets during scientific testing, blood pressure went down a significant amount. Some whole grain foods include whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Specific foods that lower blood pressure include spinach, unsalted sunflower seeds and beans, to name a few. These foods contain magnesium, which encourages healthy blood pressure. Potassium levels are linked to sodium levels in the body, and eating high-potassium foods such as a baked potato or banana could lower sodium levels, thus lowering blood pressure. Milk contains vitamin D and calcium, which are believed to reduce blood pressure, but lower-calorie skim milk should be chosen to promote weight loss.
Eating these foods that lower blood pressure can significantly lower the risk of heart attack and stroke and promote a healthy lifestyle. Many healthcare providers suggest keeping a food diary to help maintain this beneficial diet. In conjunction with changes in diet, exercise and a low-stress lifestyle can also help to lower high blood pressure.