BY BRITTANY M. ORIE LEAK
So, here’s the reality: this world is not always so kind to us. There are times where it brings us profound stress – so profound that it makes our blood pressure climb mountains! High blood pressure affects tens of millions of adults in the United States, making it very common. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart disease, the two most common causes of death for Americans.
But no matter what we may go through in life, our blood pressure will always be manageable. But we may not always want to depend on pharmaceutical drugs that bring on side effects. How about going the natural route? Hippocrates famously quoted, “Let thy food be thy medicine.”
Well, in honor of National Blood Pressure Month, we will look at natural ways to lower our hypertension. Here are some healthy foods that naturally lower blood pressure and keep us healthy in general.
Berries are rich with flavonoids, a natural compound that is found to prevent hypertension when consumed. Blueberries have the highest amount of flavonoids, while raspberries and strawberries also have them.
Bananas are known for their high potassium levels, a mineral famous for lowering high blood pressure. Bananas are not the only potassium-rich food – avocados, honeydew, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and beans are also loaded with potassium.
Dark Chocolate is likely to lower blood pressure because of the main ingredient, cocoa. Dark chocolate has the highest amount of cocoa while regular milk chocolate has significantly less and white chocolate has the least. So dark chocolate is truly the healthiest form of cocoa!
Oats may reduce blood pressure due to a fiber called beta-glucan. This fiber also lowers blood cholesterol (which is found in Cheerios!).
Leafy Greens are high in nitrates which help manage blood pressure. Research shows that eating nitrate-rich greens in 1-2 servings every day can lower blood pressure for up to 24 hours! Leafy greens to try are cabbage, spinach, kale, lettuce, collards, and mustard greens.
Fermented Foods may taste horrendous, but they are exceptionally good for the body! Fermented foods are high in probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that maintain good gut health. Probiotics can help lower blood pressure. Here are some fermented foods to try: natural yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, miso, and tempeh.
Lentils and Pulses are a protein-rich staple in vegan and vegetarian diets that help lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that pulses such as beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas have lowered blood pressure by 30 percent!
Pistachios! Want a tasty snack? Pistachios have been shown to reduce hypertension in times of stress, perhaps because a compound in the nuts helps loosen tight blood vessels. So, the next time you’re tensely sitting at your work desk, pop out some of those green munchies!
Garlic is an antifungal food that helps the body produce nitric oxide which helps muscles to relax and blood vessels to dilate, thereby reducing hypertension.
Kiwi is rich in vitamin C, which naturally helps lower blood pressure. Recent studies show that eating three kiwis a day reduces blood pressure significantly.
Beets in juice form is highly effective in reducing hypertension in the short and long term. Just drinking one cup of red beet juice daily can reduce blood pressure.
Try these natural practices to lower blood pressure!
Walking and regular exercising strengthens your heart and makes it more effective in pumping blood, lowering the pressure in your arteries.
Cutting back on caffeine will lower your blood pressure quickly. Consuming coffee and sodas give blood pressure a quick boost, so doing the opposite is highly beneficial.
Manage stress by practicing meditation and deep breathing. This will slow down a rapid heartbeat.
Losing weight helps blood vessels expand and contract better, making it easier for the heart to pump blood.
Control your blood pressure, don’t let it pressure you!