Lowering their blood pressure is a key step to heart health. The number of Americans at risk for heart attacks and strokes keeps getting higher. As of May 2018, an estimated 103 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure, according to statistics from the American Heart Association (AHA). That’s nearly half of all adults in the United States.
Most of us know that exercise, along with weight and stress management, can help us control blood pressure. However, only about one in five Americans gets enough exercise, and poor eating habits contributed to 45 percent of U.S. deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, according to AHA.
Small changes in the foods you eat can yield big results. Increase your intake of fish containing heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and eat more potassium-rich fruits for starters. But there’s one powerful superfood that is a must-have to keep your blood pressure under control.
The following natural techniques can help lower blood pressure. Speak with your health care professional to determine which approach is best for you.
Oats are famously rich in fiber, notably a fiber called beta-glucan, which appears may help lower high blood pressure.
Studies have shown that people with hypertension who add oats to their diet can significantly reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
In one study, doing so reduced systolic blood pressure by 7.5 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 5.5 mm Hg.
Bananas are known for their potassium: A medium fruit provides about 9% of the daily recommended intake of this mineral.
Potassium helps manage hypertension by reducing sodium in the body and easing tension in the walls of the blood vessels.
However, if you have kidney disease, your body may not be able to remove extra potassium as effectively, so speak with your healthcare provider before attempting to consume more potassium.
3. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
A 2015 study found that consuming salmon and other fatty fish may help reduce blood pressure in certain populations. Scientists believe the omega-3 fatty acids in fish—particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—cause this change. It’s best to stick with fish like salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, and lake trout.
Flaxseed, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds are good sources of potassium, magnesium, and fiber and therefore may help to lower blood pressure. Be sure to choose unsalted seeds for the most benefit.
Several studies concluded that drinking beetroot juice appears to lower blood pressure in both healthy people and those with prehypertension and hypertension. A 2015 study found that participants with hypertension who ingested 30 g of ground beets daily for six months experienced an average blood pressure reduction of 15 mmHg systolic and 7 mmHg diastolic. Red beets contain high levels of nitrates.
WHAT TO AVOID:
LIMIT SODIUM INTAKE
Julia Stanislavskaia, RD, cautions that those low-sodium labels can be misleading. “Remember that most salt comes from packaged goods, and what you add during cooking makes up only about 10 percent of our salt consumption, so check the nutrition label so you’re choosing foods that have less than 200 mg of sodium per serving,” she says.
Huston notes that while reducing your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day has the greatest effect on lowering blood pressure, 2,000 to 2,300 mg per day may be more realistic for active individuals.
Stanislavskaia says cutting alcohol consumption causes an almost immediate reduction in blood pressure. Huston recommends a maximum of two standard drinks per day for men and one for women and smaller men. If you don’t currently drink, she doesn’t recommend you start.