High blood pressure is both a serious and a rather common health problem. About one in every three American adults, mostly over the age of 65, suffer from hypertension. People with hypertension rely on medications to lower blood pressure, although they also must watch what they eat because certain foods tend to raise blood pressure.
If you are one of these people, it may please you to know there are also foods that help lower blood pressure, reducing the need to rely as heavily on medication.
When you go to the doctor’s office, your blood pressure is checked. If a machine is used to check it, you may notice the digital screen shows two numbers, a top and a bottom. The top number represents the systolic blood pressure reading, which counts the pressure in the arteries when the heart is contracting. The lower of the two numbers represents the diastolic blood pressure reading, which measures the pressure in the arteries between contractions.
A blood pressure with a reading under 120/80 is considered healthy. However, the systolic pressure can range from 120 to 139 and the diastolic from 80 to 89, and still be considered healthy, though entering prehypertension phase. There are three other stages of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Numbers rising above 140/90 are considered high.
When blood pressure reaches stage three, with numbers above 180/110, it usually constitutes a medical emergency. In this case, medication is the only option for lowering it. But you can try these natural methods in hopes of using less medication and lower it before it reaches emergency status.
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In 2012 the Journal of Human Hypertension published studies linking low-fat dairy consumption to a lower risk of high blood pressure. Although cheese is not on the list of potentially helpful dairy products, low-fat yogurt seems to show the strongest correlation between dairy and blood pressure.
One theory suggests that high-fat dairy may contain too much saturated fat to make a difference in lowering blood pressure. Another theory is that perhaps those choosing low-fat dairy over other dairy products tend to make healthier food choices and lead healthier lifestyles.
Olive oil contains polyphenol, a micronutrient thought to help prevent heart disease and hypertension. Another 2012 study, also published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, compared a diet consisting of olive oil to one containing no polyphenols, focusing on the differences in blood pressure elevation.
Researchers found a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in those consuming olive oil, with a marked difference among women who started out with particularly high blood pressure.
Beets contain nitrates, which are known to lower blood pressure. A 2013 edition of Nutrition Journal reported on research done in Australia, in which participants consumed either beet juice mixed with apple juice or plain apple juice before having their blood pressure monitored for a 24-hour period. As early as six hours after consuming the beet juice, a drop in systolic blood pressure was noticed, particularly in male participants.
Pomegranates are rich in potassium and polyphenols, molecules with antioxidant properties. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition reported that researchers in the United Kingdom found that young adults consuming more than one cup of pomegranate juice a day for four weeks showed a drop in both systolic and diastolic pressure. Either the potassium or the polyphenols found in pomegranates is believed to cause of the lower blood pressure.
Chocolate is a girl’s best friend, especially if it helps lower blood pressure. Of course, this is not to say that men cannot reap the benefits as well. In 2010, BMC Medicine said that dark chocolate consumption is linked to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with prehypertension and hypertension, but showed no difference in people with normal blood pressure.
This could be related to the flavanols found in dark chocolate and cocoa, which aid in the creation of nitric oxide, which widens blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through them, thus lowering blood pressure.
Research has shown that the foods you eat make an impact on your blood pressure level. The aforementioned five foods might help naturally lower it, and medication may not need to be relied upon as heavily. You might keep these things in mind when planning your meals if you suffer from hypertension.