Do you know how many people in the world have high blood pressure (HBP)? …. A billion! It’s said to be the
NOTE: If you have HBP, it’s best that you are monitored by your healthcare professional. And if you’re on medication for HBP, never change that without speaking with a medical professional.
In this post, I will explain what blood pressure is, and which foods and lifestyle factors can help keep yours at an optimal level.
What is High Blood Pressure?
HBP is something you often have checked at the doctor’s office. You can even do it yourself in many pharmacies, or purchase at-home blood pressure monitors. There is an inflatable tube placed around your arm that gets blown up and feels tight.
The monitors measure how hard your blood is pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. If your vessels are stiff, the pressure increases. The top number (called systolic) measures the pressure your heart exerts while beating. The bottom number (called diastolic) measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.
It’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly because for many people there are no symptoms and it can slowly creep higher and higher without you noticing.
This is important because if your blood pressure is elevated for too long, it can cause serious damage. In extreme cases, it can result in blindness, kidney damage, stroke, or even a heart attack.
Here are a few of the foods and drinks that you can use to help keep your blood pressure in check.
Eat More Plant Food
Plants help manage blood pressure because eating them increases your intake of many critical nutrients including…
- Antioxidant vitamins such as C and E.
- Folate and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and sulfur.
Some plants to eat more of include leafy greens (kale in particular), legumes, nuts/seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes.
Two plants I want to highlight in particular are flaxseeds and beets.
- A few tablespoons of ground flaxseeds a day is one of the best foods to help with blood pressure.
- Beets contain a blood pressure lowering substance called nitrate. Beet juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure within hours of drinking it.
Drink Hibiscus Tea
Yes, there is science behind the blood pressure lowering effects of hibiscus tea.
Several clinical studies have shown that it works. In one study, people drank two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning. Those two cups were made using a total of five tea bags. This lowered the subjects’ blood pressure as much as a blood pressure medication.
NOTE: This tea is not recommended if you are taking a thiazide diuretic.
Eat Less Processed Food
We’ve all heard the advice to reduce sodium intake for high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, most of the sodium in our diet is from the salt added to processed foods. It’s not from the dash or two on your homemade cooked-from-scratch dinner. Reducing processed food intake not only reduces sodium and sugar intake but also increases your intake of more nutrient-dense less processed foods. Win-win.
Ditch the fast-food, takeout, restaurant meals, and convenience snacks. Replace them with some of the plants I mentioned above.
Coffee has been shown to temporarily increase blood pressure. Its effects can last for up to three hours after drinking it. It may not be so bad if you’re not sensitive to it, but caffeine affects some people more than others. Some caffeine sensitivity symptoms include shakiness, worry, irregular heartbeat, or difficulty sleeping.
If you find caffeine affects you, then try eliminating it for a period of time and see how it impacts your blood pressure.
NOTE: Don’t drink a cup of regular coffee or have other sources of caffeine right before your next doctor’s appointment or blood pressure test.
In addition to food, know that a number of lifestyle factors can be helpful too.
- Quit smoking
- Don’t overdo alcohol consumption
- Reduce stress by meditating, practicing yoga, deep breathing, walking in nature, etc.
- Move your body, but start small. Try not to overdo exercise if you already have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can be a silent killer, so make sure you are proactive in getting checked. Elevated blood pressure puts you at risk for serious diseases.
If you already have HBP, you should be regularly monitored by your healthcare professional, and never change your medications without his/her input.
Some of the key food and lifestyle upgrades that can help with blood pressure are:
- Eating more plants, particularly ground flaxseeds and beets
- Drinking hibiscus tea
- Eating fewer processed foods
- Ditching coffee if you’re sensitive to it
- Quitting smoking
- Moderating alcohol
- Reducing stress
- Exercising wisely
Which of these are you going to try first? If you are worried about your blood pressure and don’t know where to begin, book a free discovery call with me here to learn how a certified nutritionist can support you with a plan to get you on the road back to health.