How to Control High Blood Pressure with a Proper Diet

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  • Unhealthy food choices are among the biggest risk factors that trigger high blood pressure, which is why the importance of proper nutrition is always emphasized when it comes to managing this condition
  • Identifying the foods you need to include in your diet plan is just as important as knowing the foods you need to avoid

Unhealthy food choices are among the biggest risk factors that trigger high blood pressure, which is why the importance of proper nutrition is always emphasized when it comes to managing this condition. Knowing the foods you need to avoid and the ones you should include in your diet can spell the difference between maintaining normal blood pressure levels and having an increased risk for heart disease.

Is Salt to Blame for High Blood Pressure?

Medical professionals have been prescribing low-sodium diet to people with high blood pressure, since salt is believed to cause hypertension. However, research shows that sodium may not be the “bad” mineral that it’s played out to be.1 In fact, you actually need sodium to maintain and regulate healthy blood pressure levels.

While adopting a low-sodium diet can indeed decrease blood pressure readings, it may also worsen your total cholesterol-to-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio, which indicates an increased risk of heart disease.

It may also increase your body’s levels of insulin, making you more susceptible to insulin resistance, which contributes to high blood pressure by decimating your body’s magnesium, calcium and nitric oxide levels. Considering all the adverse effects that sodium deficiency may cause, consuming foods that contain little to no salt may be worse for your overall health.

How to Incorporate Sodium Into Your Diet

Instead of removing salt from your diet, you should carefully choose the types of salt that you’re consuming. Avoid processed table salt as much as you can — make sure that you’re using natural, unprocessed salt in your foods.

If your diet already consists of whole foods, then it’s highly likely that it’s low in salt, too. If you’re planning to season your foods with natural salt, simply add it to taste. You should also monitor your sodium-to-potassium ratio, since potassium deficiency may be a greater contributor to high blood pressure than excessive sodium intake.

A healthy kidney can take around 86 grams of salt per day. However, you should limit your salt intake to 2,300 milligrams per day if you have an endocrine disorder, high aldosterone level, Cushing’s syndrome, elevated cortisol or Liddle syndrome.

Foods to Help Avoid High Blood Pressure

Omega-3 fatty acids — Research shows the high serum levels of animal-based omega-3 fatty acids may help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by up to 4 mmHg and 2 mmHg, respectively.2

Some good sources of animal-based omega-3s include wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies.

Beets — Also known as beetroots, beets are an excellent source of nitrate, a compound that’s converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is essential for the relaxation and vasodilatation of the blood vessels.3

Garlic — Garlic contains an active compound called allicin, which may help normalize high systolic blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide in the body.4

Arugula — Arugula is a good source of potassium, magnesium and calcium5 — all of which are minerals that may help your blood vessels relax, which in turn reduces your blood pressure levels.

Apple cider vinegar — According to a study published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, the acetic acid in vinegar gives it its antihypertensive effects.6

Another study from the Journal of Food Science explained that the polyphenols in apple cider vinegar may help prevent cardiovascular diseases.7

Flaxseeds — A 2013 study published in the journal Hypertension states that flaxseed is one of the most potent dietary antihypertensive, since it helped reduce the systolic and diastolic pressure of hypertensive patients by up to 15 mmHg and 7 mmHg, respectively.8

Other foods that are good for controlling high blood pressure include blueberries, pistachios, celery, tomatoes and cold-pressed organic olive oil (ideally used cold, such as for salads, and not subjected to heat).

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High Blood Pressure Prevention

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