If lowering your blood pressure is high on your health priority list, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure and only about one in four have their condition under control. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke – both of which are leading causes of death in the United States – but health experts say choosing a healthy diet is one of the most important factors that you are in control of in order to keep this condition under control. And You Can Start By Eating This Best Diet To Lower Blood Pressure!
“Generally speaking, Diets high in whole foods and low in sodium, refined flour, and added sugars are best for lowering blood pressure“says Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN and nutritionist for Freshbit, the AI-driven visual food diary app.” These attributes can be found in any whole food diet, including Mediterranean, vegan, and paleo diets. A focus on 100% whole grain products, little to no added sugar, lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids and lots of fruit and vegetables is ideal. “(See also: The 7 Healthiest Foods You Can Eat Right Now)
Top Eating Habits To Lower Blood Pressure
Regardless of your dietary restrictions or preferences, Minchen says there are many easy ways to keep your blood pressure down. Here are some of the habits she suggests:
- Reduction of sodium intake by avoiding table salt
- Reduce sodium intake by avoiding or restricting processed foods (cold cuts, french fries, frozen meals, etc.).
- Track your sodium intake and keep your total at around 2,300 milligrams per day or less.
- Eat more foods rich in potassium (bananas, citrus fruits, spinach, beans, etc.)
- Replacing refined bread, pasta and crackers with whole grain versions
A great way to keep track of your sodium and potassium intake, according to Minchen, is to use an app like Freshbit, which tells you how much you are consuming certain nutrients based on the foods you eat. When you eat too much salt, your body holds on to extra water, which can strain your blood vessels and heart, and raise your blood pressure.
But potassium has the opposite effect, says Minchen, by relaxing the blood vessel walls and thereby lowering blood pressure. And since a 2007 study found that higher whole grain intake was linked to a decreased risk of high blood pressure, it pays to switch to refined grains. Not only can whole grains help you feel full longer, but they can also reduce damage to your blood vessels, lower your risk of insulin resistance, and increase your potassium intake.
Eat foods to lower blood pressure
According to Minchen, some of the foods you might want to eat more to help lower your blood pressure are among those foods oily fish (like wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel), chicken breast, berries, bananas, spinach, broccoli, citrus fruits, quinoa, brown rice, whole potatoes with the skin, high-fat yogurt, and eggs.
“When you eat more of these foods, you get essential potassium, calcium, magnesium, and a number of vitamins that support a healthy cardiovascular system,” she explains. “They’re also replacing more processed foods, which means that when you eat more of those foods, you use less sodium.”
At the same time, she says you want to limit your intake of deli and processed meats, salty processed snacks (like pretzels), fried foods, and fast foods. This is because, as the World Health Organization reports, a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats is a major risk factor for high blood pressure.
“When your diet is largely processed, you are consuming excessive sodium, which increases the stiffness of the blood vessels. You are also lacking other essential nutrients that support healthy blood pressure. Reducing your intake of these foods makes room for more nutritious whole foods.”
20 Healthiest Foods That Lower Blood Pressure Before Your Next Trip To The Grocery Store