Try a different take on "comfort food" by snacking on a banana, an orange or some dates, or having a bean and spinach salad for lunch to help lower your blood pressure. The American Heart Association reports that more than 76 million Americans have hypertension, increasing their risk for heart disease and stroke. The right nutrition, along with maintaining a healthy body weight, getting enough exercise, cutting down on alcohol and quitting smoking, can help you balance your blood pressure.
The typical American diet is excessive in processed and fast foods, which are high in sodium. Potassium-rich foods help to counter the effect of sodium in your body, lowering your blood pressure. Potassium works by getting rid of excess sodium and lowering your body's blood volume. A study published in the journal "Hypertension" in 2005 reported that patients who ate high potassium foods for one week showed marked improvement in their blood pressure. To help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, eat more foods such as dates, raisins, bananas, kale, spinach, beets, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges and almonds. The recommended dose is 4.7 grams per day.
The mineral calcium is well known for keeping your bones and teeth healthy. However, this essential nutrient is also important for heart and blood vessel health. Calcium affects blood pressure because it is needed to constrict and open your arteries. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that, in one study, patients who took a dose of 1.2 grams of calcium every day for two months lowered their blood pressure. You can get the recommended daily amount of 1,000 milligrams of calcium from low-fat milk and dairy, fortified juices and cereals, tofu, spinach, kale, broccoli and beans.
Although your body doesn't digest fiber, it is still an essential nutrient that can help maintain a healthy blood pressure over time. Dietary fiber helps to get rid of unhealthy cholesterol and fats before your body can absorb them. It also helps to keep your blood glucose levels stable and maintain a healthy weight. Research published in the "Journal of Family Practice" in 2002 reported that eating fiber-rich oats daily helped subjects to bring down their blood pressure. Other good sources of fiber include whole-grain breads and pasta, bran, barley, quinoa, lentils, beans, mushroom, prunes, guava and apples.
Not all fats are made equal; healthy fats are part of your daily balanced diet and can help lower high blood pressure if eaten regularly instead of unhealthy saturated fats such as those in dairy, butter, meat and meat products. A study published in "European Heart Journal" in 2001 noted that omega-3 fatty acids can help improve high blood pressure in some people, because they help to dilate the blood vessels. Good food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish such as salmon, halibut and sardines and flaxseed.
- American Heart Association: Statistical Fact Sheet 2012 Update; High Blood Pressure
- Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center; Calcium
- Hypertension: Effect of Short-Term Supplementation of Potassium Chloride and Potassium Citrate on Blood Pressure
- The Journal of Family Practice: Oat Ingestion Reduces Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure
- European Heart Journal: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Blood Pressure Control
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images