Hypertension affects millions of people in the United States. Do you struggle with keeping it in check? Rather than first focusing on what foods to avoid, let’s spend some time with what foods you can choose to help combat this condition.
Drinking beet juice reduces blood pressure both short and long term. Choose 1 cup of the juice every day for 4 weeks and keep track of your numbers. If you see them drop, it will be worth the effort.
As if you needed another reason to eat dark chocolate, but this sweet treat may lower your blood pressure. Be sure you choose 70% or greater cacao and consume a single square serving or 1 ounce each day.
Fruits such as berries, kiwis, guava and bananas are all excellent choices when trying to lower those blood pressure numbers. Berries such as blueberries and strawberries contain the antioxidant, anthocyanin, and this nutrient was found to be more prevalent in people with lower blood pressure. Kiwis and guavas are quite rich in Vitamin C with 70 mg packed into one medium kiwi and 125 mg in a guava. Researchers have found a correlation that consuming an average of 500 mg of Vitamin C per day may produce small reductions of blood pressure. Be aware that this far exceeds the recommended daily value of 90 mg Vitamin C, but know that it is a water-soluble vitamin so your body will excrete what it doesn’t use. How does vitamin C help? It may act as a diuretic, removing excess fluid from your body. This may help lower the pressure within your blood vessels. Bananas have long been touted for the potassium they contain. This mineral is very important in managing hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, potassium reduces the effects of sodium and alleviates tension in the walls of the blood vessels.
Speaking of sodium, now that is one nutrient that is usually given the blame in relation to high blood pressure. If you are struggling with hypertension, monitor your sodium levels. The American Heart Association encourages your sodium levels to be no more than 2300 mg (1 tsp.) of salt a day and an ideal limit of fewer than 1500 mg per day for most adults, especially those with high blood pressure.
Alcohol can also play a role in your pressure numbers. While consuming a small amount of red wine has been proven to help with heart health, using too much alcohol can cause havoc on your pressure numbers.
Finally, you know that caffeine is a stimulant. However, let’s think about this for a bit. The caffeine you consume in coffee, tea, soda or energy drinks can cause a short-term spike in your blood pressure. The review of five trials found that drinking up to 2 cups of strong coffee can increase both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for 3 hours after consumption. The good news is that this short-term increase is just that, short-term, and the findings didn’t show that it caused a long-term increase in your blood pressure. At the very least, plan when you take your blood pressure and try to avoid caffeine use a few hours before.
Hope these tips help in keeping those numbers within the normal range.
Debbie Guenterberg MS, RDN, CD
Prevea Health Registered Dietitian Nutritionist