Blood pressure isn’t a topic that tends to come up until it becomes elevated enough to manifest its symptoms (severe headache, pounding in the chest, fatigue, vision problems, difficulty breathing, among many more). As the symptoms begin to add up, this condition (medically known as hypertension) can be quite debilitating. But little do we know that before we begin to notice the symptoms, the disease has long been at play. Hypertension is also known as the silent killer. It creeps up on your body like a ninja in the night time, disabling and damaging many of your organs (the kidneys, liver, etc.). While anti-hypertensive medications may be effective, they each have their own side effects- and so an equally as effective and more holistic alternative method of prevention and treatment is altering our diet.
Foods to Avoid
The oil that fuels this fire of a disease is composed of foods that are high in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fats. This means that we should trim away fat from poultry, buy low- fat dairy products, and avoid processed foods. Remain conscious of the grocery products you buy and the proportion of sodium and saturated fats that they contain.
Foods to Integrate
While many individuals experiencing high blood pressure are aware of the low sodium diet and the foods they should avoid, few have the knowledge on which foods they should integrate into their diet in order to better manage the disease. Foods high in fibre, potassium, magnesium, and omega-3 are power foods that help regulate blood pressure.
Power Foods -Fruits and Vegetables
When we examine foods that help maintain and regulate blood pressure, vegetables like carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes and leafy greens (arugula, spinach, kale, etc.) are rich in minerals that contribute to heart health (particularly potassium and magnesium). Another great source for potassium is bananas- an easy addition to most snacks or breakfast meals, whether it’s into a smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal. In addition to that, flax seeds, certain nuts, seeds, and legumes contain phytochemicals that can help the body fight against heart disease.
Choose the Right Kind of Dairy
Although we mentioned that high fat dairy products can be extremely disruptive to one’s blood pressure, the American Heart Association found that women who consumed low-fat yogurt weekly were 20% less at risk of developing hypertension. So it’s important to stray away from extremes, do not avoid dairy completely but rather choose your dairy products wisely. Foods like low-fat yogurt, kefir, and skim milk can serve to be more beneficial than not.
Meat and Fish – It’s not All the Same
The type of fish or meat that we choose to consume can have a huge impact on our heart health. Eating heart-healthy fish, like salmon, tuna and herring, increases intake of omega 3 in your body which helps decrease the amount of cholesterol in your blood stream (a culprit to maintaining healthy blood pressure).
Altogether hypertension can be managed quite well with alterations in one’s diet – but we must look beyond food elimination. Blood pressure is like weight lifting for the heart, and our heart is like the muscles that work to lift the weights. In order to manage the load, we must fuel it with the right kind of nourishment.