What’s your blood pressure? Unfortunately, millions of people have no idea. You might be one of them. You need to know because high blood pressure — which is also known as hypertension — is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney failure, and cancer.
Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, you should know what your blood pressure is because it increases with age. Consequently, today’s high normal readings could translate to tomorrow’s abnormally high readings. You need to know your systolic and diastolic numbers, according to the National Institutes of Health’s “What Is High Blood Pressure?” report. You have Stage 1 high blood pressure if your systolic number, the top number, is at least 140, or if your diastolic number, the bottom number, is at least 90.
How To Reduce Blood Pressure
Fortunately, you might not have to take medicine to maintain or lower your current blood pressure. “What you eat and what kind of nutrients and minerals that food contains can have an effect on blood pressure,” Suzanne Steinbaum, the director women’s heart health at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told Time magazine in an article entitled “5 Ways to Naturally Reduce Your Blood Pressure” that identifies improving your diet as the first way.
Fortunately, there are numerous foods that can reduce your blood pressure. Generally, the best foods to reduce your blood pressure are high in either calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, protein, vitamin C, or a combination of the above vitamins and minerals.
Bananas and dark chocolate are on virtually every list of foods to reduce blood pressure that I looked at. Bananas are loaded with potassium, which also reduces the amount of sodium in your blood. Two bananas daily can reduce your blood pressure by 10 percent, reports “7 Foods Science Proves Will Help Lower Your Blood Pressure.”
Dark chocolate is even better. It can reduce your blood pressure by 20 percent. It contains cocoa flavanols that make your blood vessels more elastic, reports “13 Ways To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally.” You should make sure that the dark chocolate is at least 70 percent cocoa.
Foods That Are Good Choices To Reduce Blood Pressure
- Tomatoes: Besides eating tomatoes, you should drink tomato juice instead of soft drinks, according to the “7 Foods” article. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, which can lower your bad cholesterol by as much as 10 percent, reports “Foods To Lower Blood Pressure.” Tomatoes also have lots of potassium and calcium. Adding tomato sauce to a healthy meal can also reduce your blood pressure.
- Potatoes: All three of the lists of foods mentioned in this blog list potatoes as a food that can lower blood pressure. Like bananas, potatoes are loaded with potassium. Sweet potatoes are specifically mentioned in the entries on potatoes. Eating a lot of potatoes can help you eat the 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams of potassium you should eat daily.
- Spinach: This green leafy vegetable is loaded with magnesium, one of the minerals that helps reduce blood pressure. The iron and vitamin C in spinach also can have positive effects on blood pressure.
- Raisins: The “7 Foods” article reports that people who ate raisins three times per day for 12 weeks lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Raisins have lots of potassium. So do other dried fruits such as prunes.
- Oranges: As mentioned earlier, vitamin C can reduce blood pressure. Oranges are loaded with vitamin C. Other fruits with a lot of vitamin C that you should consider eating include cranberries, grapes, kiwi, and strawberries.
- Tea: People who drank three cups of Hibiscus tea for six weeks lowered their systolic blood pressure by about seven points, according to the “7 Foods” article. The phytochemicals in tea are the reason for this development.
- Other Foods: Avocados, black beans, broccoli, cantaloupe, dates, decaf coffee, egg whites, garlic, green beans, honeydew melon, onions, peas, salmon, skimmed milk, and watermelon.
Should you eat better foods rather than take medicine if you have high blood pressure? You should consult your doctor before making that decision, but you can see there are plenty of food options if he or she gives you the OK to try food before medicine.