Hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure, puts you at risk of stroke and other serious health issues. If you’re among the more than 80 million Americans with hypertension, we have good news: Simple dietary changes can help get your blood pressure under control.
While some people develop hypertension with no identifiable cause, the condition can often be linked to a poor diet and being overweight. Those extra pounds take a toll on your heart, making it work harder to circulate your blood and causing your blood pressure to rise.
At the primary care practice of Beth and Howard Braver, MD, our board-certified team of physicians helps patients in Aventura and Hollywood, Florida, lower their blood pressure and live healthier lives.
To give you a head start getting your numbers under control, we explain which foods to avoid and which to add to your plate.
If you want to lower your blood pressure, the first food group to turn to is whole foods. Processed foods may be tempting and convenient, but they’re full of ingredients and chemicals that raise your blood pressure, like sodium.
Whole foods are foods that are in or close to their natural state. They haven’t been refined and have only whole foods as an ingredient. Processed foods have been changed from their natural state in a food processing plant and have many ingredients.
If food comes in a box, bag, or packages, think twice if you’re serious about getting your blood pressure under control.
Examples of processed foods include canned foods, dried soup mixes, frozen and boxed meals and mixes, lunch meats, sausage, bacon, ham, deli meats, condiments, and packaged snack foods.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are whole foods, but if you’re hoping to lower your blood pressure, they’re also your best friend.
Fruits and vegetables help you manage your weight and keep your blood pressure under control because they’re full of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that keep your heart healthy and strong.
If you want to reverse hypertension, don’t think about fruits and veggies as a side dish. Make them the centerpiece of your plate. Eat at least four to five servings of both fruits and veggies every day. You don’t have to eat them raw. You can add them to soups, stir-frys, and more.
Reach for whole grains like brown rice instead of refined grains like white rice to help lower your blood pressure. Refined grains are stripped of their nutrients and have less fiber than their whole grain counterparts.
Look for grains, pastas, breads, rices, and foods made from whole grains. Not only do these foods help your blood pressure, but they’re better for your waistline.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are whole foods as well as excellent sources of protein, potassium, and magnesium. They have plant compounds called phytochemicals that research shows offer protection against cardiovascular disease and work to strengthen your heart.
Consume nuts and seeds in moderation, as they’re higher in calories and fat than most fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans.
Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes also have phytochemicals, and by adding these to your plate in place of high-fat or high-sodium meats, you give your heart health a boost. And since they’re loaded with fiber, they’re a great food for weight loss.
Think about adding black beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and other beans and legumes to your salads, soups, and main dishes.
Healthy low-fat and no-fat foods
You need fat to stay healthy, but consuming too much fat hurts your heart and raises your blood pressure. To lower your blood pressure, reach for low-fat and no-fat foods from plants, like olives and avocados.
Stay away from transfats and saturated fats, which are in eggs, cream, milk, butter, cheese, and meat. Check food labels carefully and pick foods that are the lowest in saturated fats.
To learn more about the link between your diet and blood pressure or to schedule a blood pressure screening, contact us today.