What to Eat to Lower Blood Pressure
Diet plays a key role in lowering blood pressure. Having a diet that is low in sodium and saturated fat, but high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help lower blood pressure.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, showing the effects of a low-sodium diet on blood pressure found that after eight weeks, those who followed the diet had a significant reduction in blood pressure.
The study also found that those who had the greatest reduction in blood pressure were participants that had the greatest reduction in sodium intake. These findings suggest that a low-sodium diet is an effective way to lower blood pressure.
However, it is important to note that not everyone will see a reduction in blood pressure by following a low-sodium diet. Some people may need to take medication to help control their blood pressure. Aktiia discusses foods to eat to lower blood pressure in this blog.
Foods to eat to lower blood pressure
To lower blood pressure, aim to eat unprocessed foods. Here are foods that will help lower blood pressure:
- Fruits and vegetables: These are high in fibre and potassium, both of which help lower blood pressure.
- Dark leafy greens: These include spinach, kale, and collards. They are rich in magnesium, which helps to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow
- Fatty fish: Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These can help to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.
- Nuts: This includes almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. These nuts are high in magnesium, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
- Dark chocolate: This includes chocolate with a 70% or higher cocoa content. Dark chocolate has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
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What can I eat to lower my blood pressure immediately?
There are many natural ways to lower your blood pressure immediately by incorporating some lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes such as:
Drinking plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water can help to flush out excess salt and water in your internal system, keep your body hydrated and lower your blood pressure. When your body is dehydrated, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body, which increases blood pressure.
One of the ways that reducing stress can lower blood pressure is by decreasing the levels of stress hormones in the body. These hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, can constrict blood vessels and increase heart rate.
When the body is in a relaxed state, the heart rate slows and the blood vessels dilate, which lowers blood pressure.
Reducing salt intake
The body needs a certain amount of salt to function, but consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure. When salt intake is reduced, blood pressure is lowered.
One mechanism by which this occurs is that reducing salt intake causes the body to retain less water. Since blood is mostly water, this causes the volume of blood in the body to decrease, which in turn decreases the blood pressure.
Nicotine causes a temporary increase in blood pressure. When you quit smoking, your blood pressure returns to normal.
The exact reason smoking causes an increase in blood pressure is not fully understood, but is thought to be related to the release of catecholamines (such as adrenaline) from the adrenal glands. These hormones cause the blood vessels to constrict, which leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Eating a healthy diet that is low in sodium and high in potassium
A healthy diet that is low in sodium and high in potassium can lower blood pressure by helping to reduce the amount of fluid in the body and by helping the blood vessels relax.
When there is less fluid in the body, the blood vessels can more easily expand and contract, which helps to lower blood pressure. Potassium helps to relax the blood vessels and also helps to remove excess sodium from the body.
When you exercise, your heart muscle becomes stronger. This allows the heart to pump more blood with less effort. As your heart becomes more efficient, your blood pressure decreases.
Exercising also helps to reduce the stiffness of your arteries. When your arteries are stiff, it is more difficult for your heart to pump blood through them. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure and worse cardiovascular complications.
Finally, exercise can help you to lose weight. Being overweight can increase your blood pressure. Losing weight can help to lower your blood pressure. So, by strengthening your heart muscle, reducing the stiffness of your arteries, and helping you to lose weight, exercise can help to reduce your blood pressure.
Limiting alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases blood pressure, but chronic heavy drinking can lead to long-term increases.
Cutting back on alcohol consumption will help reduce blood pressure. The NHS recommends that men and women should have no more than 14 units of alcohol over week on a regular basis.
Drinking alcohol can also lead to weight gain, which can increase blood pressure. People who drink too much alcohol are also more likely to smoke cigarettes. In addition, people who drink too much alcohol are more likely to have high cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. All of these factors can lead to high blood pressure.
Finally, there is no one food that will immediately lower blood pressure. However, as mentioned above, a diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, can help over time.
Disclaimer: If you are concerned about your blood pressure, it is best to speak to your doctor. They can advise on the best way to manage your blood pressure and whether eating healthy may be beneficial.
Does Drinking Water Lower Blood Pressure?, January 13, 2022 – https://www.verywellhealth.com/high-blood-pressure-and-water-intake
NHS, Alcohol units, October 15, 2021 – https://www.nhs.uk/alcohol-advice-calculating-alcohol-units