High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the most common health problems in the the western world, with over 25% of adults thought to suffer from the condition. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye damage and other health problems. The cause of high blood pressure is often unknown, although being overweight, smoking, stress, excessive salt intake, binge drinking and a family history of cardiovascular disease are all known risk factors for developing the disease. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, try these 5 foods that lower blood pressure.
Bananas are packed with fibre and potassium, both of which are important nutrients for reducing blood pressure. Low potassium levels encourage the body to retain sodium (salt), which leads to a rise in blood pressure. Eating foods rich in potassium helps to balance salt levels and reduce blood pressure. Fibre can also help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, in addition to protecting your heart and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Skimmed milk is rich in calcium and vitamin D, important nutrients for the reduction of blood pressure. Milk also contains nutrient-rich proteins that can help to stabilise blood pressure. Avoid high-fat dairy products like cream, as these are often high in cholesterol. Skimmed or fat-free milk provides powerful health benefits, with a fraction of the fat and calories found in some dairy products.
Spinach is packed full of fibre, potassium, folate and magnesium, a powerful combination for helping to reduce blood pressure levels. Magnesium is essential for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, particularly when combined with calcium. To gain the maximum benefit from spinach, try eating raw leaves with a salad or as part part of a sandwich filling. If you prefer hot spinach, cook lightly for as little time as possible, as this helps to preserve the nutrients.
Baked potatoes contain several vitamins and nutrients essential for a healthy heart and stable blood pressure levels. Potassium, magnesium and vitamin C can all be found in baked potatoes, providing a delicious combination of nutrients to reduce your blood pressure. Choosing a low-fat dairy filling like cottage cheese will also give you extra calcium, another important nutrient for stabilising blood pressure levels.
The cocoa powder found in dark chocolate and cocoa-based drinks contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that have been shown to protect the body from heart disease, cardiovascular disease and other related health problems. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, as this will give you the maximum benefits. Milk chocolate does not provide the same health benefits.
High blood pressure can usually be reduce with a few self-help measures, such as losing weight, taking regular exercise, learning to relax, quitting smoking and reducing salt intake. However, if your high blood pressure is particularly severe or you have a family history of heart disease, you may need medication to control your blood pressure.
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