Not only are there more incidents of high blood pressure in African Americans than in Caucasians, but the end-results of the condition tend to be more serious – often leading to stroke, renal failure, and heart failure. Some studies have found that African American women have higher awareness of blood pressure issues than men, so if you know and love a man at risk for high blood pressure, make sure he’s keeping an eye on that – there is a chance he isn’t. But then again, men are notorious for avoiding checkups and other important exams.
Though it’s common to joke that certain situations raise one’s blood pressure – like visits from the in-laws or conflict with that one frustrating coworker – there is actually no evidence that stress causes permanent changes in blood pressure. What does have an impact on blood pressure levels in the long-run is diet, diabetes, high cholesterol, and a history of high blood pressure in one’s family. Taking a closer look at those causes, diet really trickles into all of them. Diabetes can be the result of diet, as can high cholesterol, so paying close attention to what one eats is especially important in the battle against high blood pressure. On that note, here are foods that can help lower one’s blood pressure.
Red and yellow bell peppers
Bright red and yellow vegetables like red and yellow bell peppers are high in potassium, which plays an important role in blood pressure management. Eating a diet high in potassium allows you to release more sodium through your urine, and it reduces the tension inside of blood vessel walls.
Skim milk or yogurt
Calcium is essential for healthy nerve transmission and well as muscle contraction, both of which play into your blood pressure levels. It can also improve blood vessel constriction. Consider getting more of it through skim milk or yogurt – just avoid the high-sugar yogurts. Opt for Greek yogurt or plain yogurt.
No-salt cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is also a good source of calcium and can be a good choice for those who don’t like yogurt. Go for no-salt cottage cheese. Its high protein levels may also help reduce cravings for high-sugar or high-salt foods.
Plain rice and potatoes have been found to help improve blood pressure levels. Brown rice is the best option, as it has a lower impact on blood sugar levels than white rice. It’s rich in potassium and magnesium. Magnesium can help prevent blood vessels from constricting, and potassium, as stated, can help eliminate excess sodium from the body.
Berries are high in anthocyanins, flavonoids that contribute to the rich colors in many berries. Research has found that anthocyanins reduce blood pressure. Plus, they have high levels of fiber, and a fiber-rich diet can help improve blood pressure levels.
Bananas are another high-potassium food that can help dispel excess sodium through urine. They’re also naturally low in sodium themselves and offer roughly 400 milligrams of potassium per banana, which is a significant amount of the 3,500 to 4,700 milligrams we’re supposed to have every day.
Studies have found that having one cup of this bright red juice a day for just four days can lower blood pressure. Beets are high in nitrates, which the digestive system turns into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels widen and relax, to improve blood pressure levels.
Good news for those with a sweet tooth: dark chocolate has been found to improve blood pressure levels. Dark chocolate is high in a particular type of flavonoids called flavanols, which have been associated with lower incidents of insulin resistance and high blood pressure.
This bright green fruit is full of bioactive compounds that have been associated with better health in several ways. Bioactive compounds are often rich in several vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, and can boost cardiovascular health.
With the heat rising, this is a great time to eat this refreshing and healthy fruit. It’s not only hydrating, offering a way to get more fluids even when you’re tired of drinking water, but it’s also full of citrulline, an amino acid that lowers blood pressure and has been shown to boost heart health in animals.
A diet high in fiber is associated with better heart health and better blood pressure levels. There’s a particular fiber in oats called beta-glucan that can be especially good for lowering blood pressure. If you don’t like oats, barley works, too.
There are compounds found in pistachios that can reduce the tightness of blood vessels. Almonds may offer the same benefit. Opt for the low-sodium or unsalted options of these foods. A diet that contains healthy fats is also beneficial to blood pressure numbers.
Whether you opt for romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, or other preferred leafy greens, this food can improve blood pressure levels. Studies have found that having one to two servings a day can improve levels. They’re also high in nitrates, which, again, are turned into nitric oxide and improve blood vessel dilation.
Garlic is another food that’s high in nitric oxide-producing nitrates that can promote proper blood vessel dilation. Fortunately, there are so many ways to get it into food, from adding it to salad dressing, chopping it up in marinades, and roasting it with vegetables.
Fermented food is good for gut health and research suggests there is a positive relationship between good gut health and good blood pressure. It’s important to have diverse kinds, so think yogurt, pickles, kimchi, Kombucha, and know that it can take two months of having it daily to see results.