According to a 2016 study conducted by the Imperial College London, the number of people with high blood pressure has nearly doubled in 40 years. They also found that India had 200 million people suffering from high blood pressure. Poor nutrition is one of the contributing factors of hypertension and hence diet plays an important role in managing it. Here we talk about 7 foods that you can add to your diet to lower high blood pressure. Read on!
Different independent studies have pointed towards the fact that poor nutrition in early life years increases the risk of the high blood pressure in later life. This is one of the contributing factors for a higher prevalence of hypertension in poor and developing countries.
Dietary modifications play an important role in controlling hypertension apart from medicines. The levels of different nutrients especially sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, are important for hypertension management. For example, low sodium intake and a high potassium diet can help lower blood pressure significantly.
Here we talk about 7 hypertension-lowering foods that you can add to your daily diet.
Garlic is widely used in our Indian cuisine. It not only enhances the flavour of the dishes but also confers us with several health benefits. Consuming fresh garlic has proven to lower blood pressure in hypertensive people. One of the active ingredients present in garlic called allicin helps lower blood pressure effectively. This compound is activated when garlic is chopped or crushed and is destroyed quite easily when cooked.
Thus, if you are someone suffering from hypertension, incorporate raw garlic in your meals to reap its blood pressure lowering benefits. The only disadvantage of eating too much garlic is“garlic breath”!
Beetroot is a rich source of dietary nitrate that plays a significant role in lowering blood pressure. Nitrate-rich foods that are not exposed to very high heat are beneficial because it can become nitric oxide. Nitric oxide (NO) acts as a signalling molecule that gives signals to the cells in your arteries, telling them to soften and relax. This action greatly improves vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), which reduces blood pressure. According to different studies, beetroot juice intake can lower your blood pressure within hours and also reduces your risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
Fish oil is derived from the tissues of different oily fishes. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that help lower high blood pressure and are also beneficial for your cardiovascular health. The exact mechanism of effect is still not clear but most experts believe it is due to the omega-6:omega-3 ratio. Having more omega-3 fats in your diet (compared to omega-6 fats) is considered better for your heart health. However, certain emerging studies consider the omega-6:omega-3 ratio has become scientifically out-dated. Some foods rich in omega-3 fats are – oily fish, olive oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews can effectively reduce blood pressure in hypertensive people. It is a rich source of unsaturated fats, magnesium, potassium, fiber and is low in sodium and saturated fats, which helps maintain heart health. It helps lower “bad” cholesterol levels in our body and reduces arterial inflammation, which ultimately lowers the pressure within the arteries, more commonly known as blood pressure. Nuts are also an integral part of the famous DASH diet.
Dark chocolates and other cocoa-rich products can help reduce blood pressure in diabetic and hypertensive people. Different studies have suggested that consuming polyphenol-rich chocolates daily such as dark chocolates can reduce blood pressure effectively. Cocoa containing foods are a rich source of the bioactive compound flavanols which help lower blood pressure . Flavanols increase the formation of nitric oxide within the body which promotes vasodilation and therefore, blood pressure reduction.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collard greens, beet greens and kale are a great source of potassium, magnesium and dietary nitrates which are extremely beneficial nutrients in lowering your blood pressure effectively. Just like beetroots, leafy greens are also rich in nitrates. Also, the potassium helps your kidneys get rid of excess sodium through urine, which reduces blood pressure. Magnesium also helps in lowering blood pressure, a process which is enhanced in the presence of potassium.
Green tea is a rich source of different powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols. One of the polyphenols present in green tea is called catechins, a type of natural phenol and antioxidant. It has shown to improve vasodilation, which improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. Daily green tea consumption also reduces cholesterol levels which help lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
There are several other risk factors which are out of your control such as age, family history, gender, and race. But there are also factors you can control, such as exercise and diet that can help manage your blood pressure effectively. Read our article on lowering hypertension with diet to know more!
No matter what food you choose, remember to indulge in a heart-healthy diet that is rich in magnesium, potassium, healthy fats and fiber but low in sodium. What is your go-to blood pressure lowering foods? Let us know in the comments below!