Blood pressure is simply the force of blood as it pushes through the arteries and veins 1 and is measured using diastolic blood pressure or systolic blood pressure 2. This condition can be caused by a number of risk factors, including older age, family history, smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity just to name a few 3, 4.
What makes it difficult to manage high blood pressure is that it is a silent condition 5, meaning there are often zero symptoms until one or multiple body organs are impacted. One of the surest ways to know is by checking blood pressure readings.
Can diet affect blood pressure?
The composition of the food you eat can affect your blood pressure 6 both positively and negatively. An eating diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, lean meats, nuts, fish, and legumes can help you manage your blood pressure 7.
Knowing the kinds of foods that aggravate blood pressure is one way to ensure you avoid this condition 8. However, knowing foods that help lower blood pressure is equally important as you can always ensure they are added to your diet 9.
The foods below appear to help manage blood pressure and therefore you should consider including them in your diet regularly.
1. Leafy greens
Naturally, leafy greens are packed with nitrates that help control blood pressure. Certain studies recommend consuming at least a cup of leafy greens per day to lower blood pressure 10.
Some popular leafy greens are:
· Swiss chard
2. Red beets
Red beets are also rich in dietary nitrates. Many studies suggest that drinking beetroot juice 11 can lower blood pressure both in people with hypertension and prehypertension as well as in healthy people 12.
Make sure to drink one glass of beetroot juice daily or add beets to your salads or prepare it as a side dish.
A very common fruit, watermelon, is rich in a type of amino acid called citrulline. When consumed, the body breaks down citrulline and arginine, which helps in the production of nitric oxide – a compound known to relax blood vessels and promote flexibility in arteries 15.
You can drink watermelon as a juice or smoothie or eat it as soup or fruit salad.
4. Fermented foods
Kimchi, miso, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, and tempeh are some of the many fermented foods that have probiotics – important bacteria for managing blood pressure.
However, the full impacts of probiotics can be felt when you consume a different variety of probiotic bacteria, more than 100 billion units a day, or eat probiotics regularly for an extended period of time 16.
Consuming whole grains regularly is connected to a reduced risk of high blood pressure. According to the Heart Foundation, high consumption of whole grains can reduce death from heart disease by up to 30% 17.
Wholegrain versions of regular foods are recommended, including wholegrain bread, wholegrain rice and pasta, and wholegrain breakfast cereal such as porridge, oats, and un-toasted muesli. But always beware of your daily portion size as pasta and rice can be over-served sometimes.
There are a number of foods that can help lower blood pressure, including leafy greens, red beets, watermelon, fermented foods, and wholegrain. These foods are rich in nutrients that help relax blood vessels and promote flexibility in arteries. Consuming these foods regularly can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.