High blood pressure can be triggered by several physiological factors as well as genetic predispositions to the condition. However, dietary changes have a strong impact on this condition, as the nutrients within foods are also the triggers for cellular function. Potassium and sodium play some of the largest roles in regulating circulation, so making changes with foods that contain these minerals can generate the best results.
High blood pressure can also be a factor of cardiovascular issues that directly impact the blood vessels. Comorbid conditions such as high cholesterol, fatty or hardened arteries, and thick blood can also contribute to high blood pressure. However, these related conditions can also be addressed with dietary changes that can lead to overall better wellness.
The Basic Diet Changes
Some general rules about eating habits can be applied to a range of dietary habits, and may vastly impact the expression of high blood pressure. Many times, even one of these basic alterations will result in a significant enough change that other modifications are not even necessary. Patients should always consult their doctors in regards to dietary changes and medications, but these guidelines can also be applicable for people who show borderline hypertension.
- Eat less – carrying extra weight is one of the major causes of high blood pressure, and reducing weight by only five pounds can lead to a twenty point drop in pressure. For this reason, just cutting back at meal times and eliminating snacking can lead to lowered blood pressure.
- Reduce sodium – nearly half of all the people with blood pressure are “salt sensitive”, which means that excessive water retention significantly raises blood pressure through vascular tension. Even people without this sensitivity will experience the vascular tension, so a low sodium diet can also help lower blood pressure.
- Limit alcohol consumption – alcohol also generates vascular changes in the body and can alter the consistency of the blood. Excessive consumption can poorly impact circulation and contribute to high blood pressure, so limitation to no more than two ounces of 100 proof liquor per day or complete abstinence is recommended.
These three basic changes to eating and drinking habits should also be considered when making any other dietary alterations. Sodium limitation can be particularly challenging, since even healthier foods may contain large amounts of natural salts. This makes it important to read labels and not add any further salt to meals.
More Specific Diet Changes
Other dietary alterations may be more specific to overall nutrient considerations. This can include eating foods that are high in minerals that help to regulate blood pressure and manage cell metabolism in a manner that is balanced. It can also include supplementation with foods that are high in nutrients for heart and blood vessel health, as this can also have a positive impact on blood pressure. Further nutrition can also address issues like cholesterol, which can restrict the flow of blood through the vessels.
- Eat more whole grains – the high fiber in these foods is beneficial in removing wastes from the body and helping to flush lipids. This can reduce cholesterol to improve blood pressure, but these grains are also high in minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which have a direct impact on lowering blood pressure.
- Avoid processed foods – all processed foods, especially meats can be very high in sodium. Many of these foods also contain flavor enhancers and nitrates which have a negative influence on cell metabolism, and this can raise blood pressure.
- Eat homemade meals – having control over meal preparations also means that individuals will have control over the ingredients and additives that are put in the dish. Home meals also tend to have a higher nutritional value, which supports overall wellness.
- Include bananas in the diet – this food is high in potassium, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Other high potassium foods include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and beet greens.
- Substitute soy milk for regular milk – soy proteins have also been shown to help reduce cholesterol and lipids in the blood. This can be beneficial to lowering blood pressure and the phytostreols in soy also support heart health.
- Use low fat yogurt as a substitute – this food can stand in for anything from whipped cream to sour cream, and can help to reduce cholesterol. Yogurt is also high in calcium, which helps to reduce blood pressure, and also contains probiotics which improve circulation through better nutrient absorption.
- Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables – these foods gain their vibrancy from bioflavonoids and other nutrients that are supportive to blood vessel health. These foods, which include sweet peppers, blueberries, and grapes, can all help with proper circulation which can balance blood pressure.
- Eat dark leafy greens – this can include kale, spinach, and chards, and these foods are high in fiber and calcium. These can have an important effect on blood pressure reduction through the mechanisms of removing lipids and supporting cell health.
- Avoid caffeine – this can make a drastic change in lowering blood pressure, as caffeinated foods and beverages stimulate the adrenal response, which raises the heart rate. This dietary practice can also reduce stress and other side reactions that contribute to high blood pressure.
- Limit sugar intake – blood sugar spikes can greatly increase cellular metabolism, and this can contribute to high blood pressure. Excessive sugar can also impact proper nutrient absorption which can also affect the health of the circulatory system.
- Incorporate calming beverages – this can include herbal teas such as chamomile, mint, lemon balm, or lavender, but can also be as simple as drinking more pure water. While the herbal teas do have a direct calming effect that can lower blood pressure, water helps to flush excess salts from the body, and this can also have a very positive result.
Along with these recommendations, the use of organic foods and fresh consumables is also beneficial. These products tend to be higher in nutrients and much lower in additives that could impact circulation.