Good foods for lowering your
high blood pressure

by Monica Wilde. 4 November 2012.

So you've had a checkup at the doctor, and been given a scare as your blood pressure is up and next time you go back you'll be on medication. But you can do a huge amount yourself to reduce your blood pressure. 

"Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food"
Hippocrates 460-370 BC

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the eight key risk factors (alcohol use, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high body mass index, high cholesterol, high blood glucose, low fruit and vegetable intake, and physical inactivity) account for 61% of all cardiovascular deaths and over three quarters of all coronary heart disease.

MEASURING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Blood pressure categories

EXERCISE

Your body needs to move to keep you healthy and your heart strong. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.

water

Quite simply! Your body needs water. If you are dehydrated and not drinking enough water your blood pressure and cholesterol levels will rise. And if you drink plenty of fresh, filtered water your blood pressure and cholesterol will drop, you'll improve your metabolic rate and it's completely free!

THE DASH DIET

The good news is that there is a wealth of evidence now that proves that just changing your diet to the DASH diet can have the same effect in lowering HBP as taking hypertensive drugs from your doctor. (Karanja et al, 2004). The DASH diet outlines foods you should include as well as things you should cut down on, like salt.

Attached is a guide called " Lowering your blood pressure with DASH" with menu plans for a week, recipies and more user friendly information. 

Below I would like to highlight some of the foods recommended because they have particularly helpful effects and there is good clinical evidence to support this.

Milk

There has also been a lot of work studying the relationship between calcium and HBP. Drinking low-fat milk has an important role in preventing high blood pressure. Milk protein contains antihypertensive peptides. A nine years’ follow-up study of 6,912 white, nonhypertensive men and women showed that people who consumed three or more servings of low-fat milk per day had lower increase of blood pressure, compared to those consuming less than one serving per week. (Jakala and Vapaatalo, 2010) 

Cinnamon

Just half a teaspoon of cinnamon decreases high blood pressure but can also immediately decrease your blood sugar levels by 20 percent. If you cook with it, add it only in the last five minutes to preserve the aromatic oils. Sprinkle it onto your coffee, a glass of warm milk, into a herbal tea mix, on your cereal or porridge, or over sliced apples or a fruit salad. In one notable clinical trial, the very day that the test group stopped adding cinnamon to their food, everyone's blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides levels rose immediately. 

Oatmeal

3/4 cup of whole-grain oatmeal at breakfast and an oat-based snack later in the day caused a significant dip in blood pressure readings of one test group. If you don't like porridge (sprinkled with cinnamon and sliced banana for potassium), toast it lightly and use it as a cereal with low fat milk or yoghurt. 

Beetroot

Drinking even small doses of beetroot juice can lower blood pressure, cutting the risk of heart disease and stroke. An early study found that drinking 500ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure over 24 hours. A more recent study at the University of Reading found that the same effect is gained from smaller doses. 

100g dose of beetroot juice causes a significant lowering of blood pressure in the short-term (0 to 4 hours) and longer term (0 to 13 hours). 

This effect is attributed to the high nitrate content of the beetroot, a chemical that when ingested becomes nitric oxide which increases blood flow and keeps our blood pressure low. Remember other vegetables, including green leafy vegetables like spinach, are rich in nitrates too. 

Enriching bread or cake with beetroot helps to increase beetroot consumption, particularly for those people at risk of cardiovascular disease, as processing beetroot to make bread or beetroot cake does not affect its action in reducing blood pressure. 

Folates

For women, there is also evidence that increasing their folate intake (or folic acid supplementation) lowers blood pressure. Beetroot is also rich in folate, as is liver, wheat germ, legumes, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, most fish, pork, and whole grains. 

Garlic

Researchers at the University of Adelaide found that taking 4 capsules (940mg) of aged garlic a day reduced blood pressure over a placebo group. Fresh garlic is even more potent. Try and include a clove of crushed fresh garlic with every meal with a total of 3 raw or lightly cooked cloves per day. 

However, if you do decide to take capsules instead, don't buy deodorised ones. It is the compound that makes the smell that has the strongest active effect.

Celery AND PARSLEY

Celery helps to reduce blood pressure. 2 stalks a day can make a big difference. (Celery is diuretic so make sure you are drinking enough water, green tea or juice to compensate if you eat a lot of celery.) Also don't throw the leaves away when you've cut off the stalks. Finely chop the leaves and use then as a flavouring as you would use parsley.

Parsley has a similar effect. Add fresh chopped parsley to as many meals as possible. Chewing fresh parsley also neutralises the odor of all that garlic you're now going to be eating!

A SALAD A DAY... THE LOW BLOOD PRESSURE WAY

A great way to improve blood pressure is make sure you have a salad with every meal made of: 

Blood Pressure Lowering Salad:
Young spinach leaves
Watercress/ Rocket/Lamb's lettuce for variety
Grated fresh beetroot (if you can't get this pickled is better than none) Chopped fresh celery stalk
Sprinkle with 1/4 handful pumpkin and sunflower seeds (lightly toasted, optional)
Serve this with tinned mackerel, albacore tuna or salmon for a really healthy meal! 

Blood Pressure Lowering Salad Dressing:
1 cup of hempseed, flax seed or rapeseed oil (or Omega 3:6:9 oil)
4 cloves of crushed garlic
1/2 cup freshed squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Kikkoman's Less Sodium Soy Sauce
This dressing will keep well in the fridge. 

SNACK IDEAS

Oatcakes with Roast Garlic Hummus:
2 cups canned or cooked chick-peas
2 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 large head of roasted garlic
1 lemon, juice of
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or less
Trim the head of garlic, wrap in foil and roast for 1 hour at 375F in the oven. When cool enough to touch squeeze the cloves to pop them out of their skins. The combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to hummus texture.
Sprinkle with chopped celery or parsley leaves.
Serve with oatcakes or toasted rye bread.

© Napiers Herbals Ltd 2014 • Edinburgh and Glasgow • Herbalists and Medical Botanists since 1860
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