Are you taking blood pressure medication?
What did you learn about high blood pressure following your diagnosis?
I noticed something missing…
…from the warnings you get from various foundations and medical professionals.
High blood pressure is often reversible if you commit to certain diet and lifestyle changes.
To be clear:
- I am not suggesting that you should quit medications without talking to a doctor.
- I am not claiming that you’ll never suffer from high blood pressure again.
- I am not saying that you should stop monitoring your blood pressure.
What I absolutely need you to know is:
- You have some control over your health, regardless of family history.
- A lot of doctors are not prepared to go in-depth in advising patients about healthy, healing foods.
- It takes perseverance. You have to stick with it. I have and that’s how I know you can.
Today, we’re discussing diet and blood pressure.
As it turns out, it’s not all about avoiding sodium.
Or sugar, or fat. It’s also about eating – you guessed it – a whole foods diet.
DASH diet? The Case for Going Plant-Based
Heart disease is the leading cause of death, and high blood pressure is just one form this killer takes.
In fact, many people who die from high blood pressure die from hypertensive heart disease.
Hypertensive heart disease involves a cluster of serious problems.
First, there’s left ventricular hypertrophy, where the pumping chamber on the left side of your heart becomes too thick.
Then, you add in the other risks from having chronically high blood pressure. These include arrhythmia and failure.
…these factors form a disease where the odds of survival are stacked against the individual in a major way.
All in all, it’s deadly and devastating and that’s why one must take measures as early as they can.
Despite the prevalence of medications today, the medical community strongly acknowledges the need for lifestyle changes.
That’s why a diet for high blood pressure was developed by the government’s Department of Health and Human Services.
It’s the Dash diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
The DASH diet has undergone some revisions in the last few decades. But are those revisions good enough?
Maybe not, according to some doctors.
You see, the DASH diet involves more fruits and vegetables, but still features animal products.
Most Westerners, however, do not eat goat.
…why is meat part of the DASH diet, if meat consumption is a risk factor?
As usual, the answer is compromise and moderation.
The DASH diet is great because it can still help those who are resistant to making a big dietary change.
For example, going vegan.
Still, vegans and vegetarians have lower blood pressure.
So wouldn’t that be the diet to emulate?
“Wait,” you might say.
“Like the DASH diet suggests, I limit red meat. I eat leaner, lighter meat, like chicken.”
But the truth about chicken is actually shocking.
Those with high blood pressure should avoid large quantities of sodium.
This is important.
As it turns out, chicken can be one of the most devastatingly salty things we can buy.
Why is that?
You’ve likely heard how breeding methods have made the average chicken a fatter, bloated sort of science experiment.
This is done to create more product per animal, with more breast meat content.
But the manipulation doesn’t end there.
To make the chicken taste even “better”, factories, where the chicken is processed, engage in a practice known as “plumping“.
Plumping is where salt water is injected into the raw chicken. This not only changes the taste but adds volume.
Therefore, you pay more money for the weight, but that extra weight is a saltwater solution, not meat.
One serving of this chicken can account for a quarter of your daily sodium intake.
If you’re on a low-sodium diet for high blood pressure? You might as well call it a day right then and there.
Listen, I’m aware of the stigma attached to going vegan or vegetarian.
Yet, it honestly isn’t as difficult as many claim…
…as long as you’re serious about your health.
If those labels turn you off, do consider going “plant based“.
Still have doubts?
When you go plant based, you aren’t under any obligation to adopt every ideology we associate with veg diets.
It simply means you eat a diet of whole natural foods, with minimal processing.
It’s also worth a shot for those looking to lose weight, those with anxiety or depressive disorders, skin conditions and much more.
If plant-based just isn’t going to happen, do the DASH. But be aware of the hidden pitfalls, like chicken.
…we’ll examine one big reason why certain diets work so well.
The answer is essential minerals.
Potassium and Magnesium: Your Blood Pressure Saviors
Do you take diuretics? Many people on high blood pressure medications do.
Diuretics accelerate the elimination of sodium (and water) faster. This is how they help lower blood pressure quickly.
However, you’re not just losing sodium and water. You’re also losing potassium and magnesium.
So while you might be getting a better reading in the short-term, you’re suddenly lacking minerals essential to long-term health.
Not to mention, higher dietary levels of potassium and magnesium generally lead to lower blood pressure.
Magnesium and potassium are essential to the relaxation of you blood vessels.
Relaxed blood vessels equal lower blood pressure.
Magnesium in particular also helps transport potassium, so the presence of both is crucial.
And while high blood pressure may not bring on any symptoms, mineral deficiencies do.
Those symptoms include:
- Muscle cramping
- Irregular heart beat
- Poor immune system
- Poor digestion
- Nausea and/or loss of appetite
If you want to prevent or treat a deficiency, diet is the way.
Some doctors may put you on a more intensive, therapeutic supplement regimen if your deficiency is overtly compromising your health.
But for many of us…
…a mineral-rich diet can lower blood pressure, perhaps more quickly than you’d expect!
This is why a plant-based diet may be perfect for you.
Not only are plants much lower in sodium than animal products and processed foods, but they contain these vital minerals.
Natural, Plant-Based Foods for Lower Blood Pressure
1. White beans
White beans include navy beans, cannellini beans (white kidney beans) and Great Northern beans.
One cup of navy beans contains 10% of your daily value of potassium and 26% magnesium.
Check labels on bags and cans, because some varieties provide even more!
My favorite way to enjoy white beans is in a soup, much like this EASY recipe including kale.
Always drain and thoroughly rinse your canned beans. There’s usually a lot of sodium hiding in the packing liquid.
Broccoli is the ultimate love-it-or-hate-it healthy vegetable.
If you weren’t into it as a kid, I urge you to try it again. Cruciferous vegetables, as a general rule, are key foods for cancer prevention.
On its face, broccoli doesn’t appear to be the panacea for high blood pressure.
One cup of chopped broccoli provides about 8% and 4% of potassium and magnesium, respectively.
Check out this short video showing you “How Not to Die from High Blood pressure”.
But it’s not the minerals that matter so much in this case.
The key is sulforaphane.
This natural antioxidant compound is shown to prevent cardiovascular disease including hypertension.
Let me explain.
One cup of quinoa contains 30% of your daily magnesium, as well as 9% of your potassium. Moreover, it’s an excellent source of fiber.
Fiber helps lower blood pressure, as researchers who crunched the data from 25 clinical trials have concluded.
Sometimes it feels like researchers tell us dark chocolate is healthy just to appease us.
Candy for lower blood pressure?
According to some studies, it’s true.
Harvard researchers find that among 24 studies involving dark chocolate, all subjects enjoyed lower blood pressure.
The idea is that flavonoids help dilate blood vessels that have to endure the stress of high-pressure blood flow.
As I’m sure you know, not just any chocolate will do.
Dark chocolate with more than 60% cacao is ideal. While it’s tough to find brands that don’t add sugar, be wary of what kind of sugar they add.
Green & Black’s uses organic cane sugar.
If you only add one new food to your low blood pressure grocery list, make it beets.
A University of London study reveals that drinking just over two cups of beetroot juice daily lowers blood pressure.
The active ingredient here is dietary nitrates that react with our digestive juices.
I’m guessing that the juice, in particular, is effective because it’s a high concentration of nutrients.
Two cups of juice would likely take four beets, depending on the size.
That’s quite a lot for one glass!
Because fiber is crucial to absorption, try putting beetroot into your smoothies.
Good juicers are mighty expensive for having but one purpose. Modern countertop blenders are tough enough to break beets down to a smooth, silky texture.
Your best bet is to keep fruit sugar truly natural by eating it or making smoothies. The fiber changes the process by which you metabolize sugar.
6. Hibiscus tea
In other countries, hibiscus tea is a common natural cure for lowering blood pressure quickly.
This tart herbal infusion made from the beautiful flowering plant has many medicinal benefits.
It’s very high in vitamin C and iron, so you should drink it even if blood pressure isn’t a concern.
But it’s not a source of magnesium or potassium, so how does it work?
Let me explain.
…hibiscus tea is a natural diuretic.
But it also dilates blood vessels and disrupts hormones that send vessel-constricting signals.
Some studies show that it’s as effective or almost as effective as medications like captopril or lisinopril.
Buy only tea made from hibiscus sabdariffa.
Traditional Medicinals offers an organic variety that’s affordable and compostable. You can drink three cups per day, hot or iced.
Potatoes – really?
They’re starchy and pretty high on the glycemic index for a vegetable.
But potatoes are really valuable to us because they’re such a great source of minerals.
Yet unlike a lot of blood pressure-lowering foods, there are some necessary guidelines.
First, do not fry. Instead, bake or roast your organic potatoes.
Second, do not add things like cheese, ketchup, or bacon bits to your potato; that’s self-sabotage.
Finally, start out slowly.
Because they’re high glycemic, they may not lower blood pressure for some.
Have no more than a few servings per week, and check the effects on your blood pressure afterward.
Still, one potato can add 25% of your daily potassium and 12% of daily magnesium.
That’s how it’s been so successful for some who want to eat their way to lower blood pressure.
8. Greens, greens, GREENS
Some of you don’t want to hear it, but you can never go wrong with more greens.
Yes, even MORE!
Look, it’s no secret that greens are good for everything, including blood pressure.
The whole goal of a blood pressure diet is to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat.
That’s because the Standard American Diet includes a lot of sodium and not enough minerals.
And there’s a great variety available, with different flavors and textures. Try spinach, arugula, chard, collard greens, and the greens from your beets.
9. Nuts and seeds
Whether you’re going veg or following the DASH diet, you still need fat.
Nuts and seeds are excellent unsaturated fat sources that promote brain health and give you the minerals you need.
Pistachios, cashews, and walnuts are top picks in the nut category.
For seeds, choose pumpkin seeds and plenty of flax.
These are best because they’re higher in omega-3’s which are crucial to omega-3/omega-6 balance.
Best of all…
…flaxseed, in particular, is a dietary wonder where blood pressure is concerned.
Final Word for: Natural Foods That Lower Blood Pressure Quickly
Diet is the way to naturally lower blood pressure.
A healthier diet generally leads to weight loss.
Obesity and excess pounds are something many blood pressure patients have in common.
Reducing stress and avoiding alcohol helps, too.
And for everyone…
…watch your sodium like a hawk.
It’s hiding in foods we think are healthy, like chicken.
It’s unfortunate, but packagers and producers are frequently after your money, not your health.
To cap everything off, we need more minerals.
Potassium and magnesium relax blood vessels and therefore prevent your high blood pressure from advancing into an even more dangerous territory.
Now I want you to weigh in.
Do you think going plant-based will work for you?
If not, have you had any success with the DASH diet?
And if you are plant-based, what improvements have you noticed?
Would love to know what you think.
Please be sure to leave a comment and let everyone know what you think.