“You are what you eat” may seem a bit of an extreme cliché, but it’s certainly true that food has a direct effect on your health.
Another popular saying is that the way to a man’s heart is via his stomach. Well, there’s a lot of truth in that too - as choosing and using the right cooking ingredients can indeed ensure a healthier heart and improved blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a common problem, but for many people it can be controlled with lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, exercising more, and a better diet.
Cutting out fried and fatty food, and reducing salt intake are high on the list. But what foods can you include in your diet to reduce your blood pressure?
Foods for better vascular function
Vegetables and fruit come high on the list, preferably getting a mix of “colours” as each group has its own health-supporting properties.
Strong greens and purples often indicate fruit and veg packed with antioxidants and other protective nutrients such as fibre and vitamin C. Kale, spinach, broccoli, blackberries, blueberries and red onions, are just some of the examples of fruit and veg that give your vascular system some support.
Beans and pulses of all varieties are another great source of antioxidants, and fibre to support healthy metabolism.
Many fruits and vegetables are a great source of potassium, which does a great job of counterbalancing the negative impact of salt. That can be very significant bonus if you have high blood pressure.
Studies have shown that people who enjoy a diet containing a high proportion of plant foods tend to have lower blood pressure that those who eat high qualities of meat and dairy.
That’s not to say meat, fish and dairy are out of bounds, especially as calcium and magnesium are key nutrients for a healthy heart and regulated blood pressure. However, always opt for “leaner” versions. Ones containing high amounts of Omega 3, such as oily fish and eggs, provide anti-inflammatory properties which are also great for vascular regulation.
Olive oil is another great source of “healthy fats” that can help the body to regulate functions, including blood pressure.
Seeds and nuts are not just for the birds. There are a great many options readily available in stores these days, and creative and delicious recipes online to help use them. This category of foods is great for supporting health in general, but for high blood pressure, the outstanding hero is Flaxseed. This has been found to reduce both systolic blood pressure (when the heart contracts) and diastolic blood pressure (when the heart relaxes).
If you need help finding ways to reduce sodium (salt) and increase your potassium, calcium and magnesium intake, then look out for the DASH diet, a lifelong approach to healthy eating. This diet was developed to lower blood pressure without medication and many studies have shown that it reduces the risk of diseases such as kidney stones and diabetes. More about this diet can be found here.
This article was written by our partners, The Green Apple Club, an online clean-eating community for people who want to improve their health by improving their diet. Find out more about them and what they do here.