Foods That Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
The DASH diet has long been recommended for heart health and weight loss, but did you realise it could help with hypertension too?
High blood pressure is common at menopause as it can be related to the excess weight that is often experienced at that time.
Medication is one option, but a dietary approach can often be extremely helpful.The DASH diet was originally developed to help heart patients but it has proved very useful in other health areas such as weight loss and reducing blood pressure.
DASH — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
This is not so much a diet but a way of eating. You cut back on salt, increase fruit and vegetable intake and build your meals around whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, beans and pulses, and low-fat dairy.
Load up on leafy green vegetables
Salt makes your body hang on to more fluid, and the bloating associated with that is another common feature at menopause. That increases your blood volume and the pressure on your arteries, which make your blood pressure climb.
Fill your plate with leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, kale and cabbage for a potassium boost. The mineral helps flush sodium out of your body and relaxes your blood vessel walls.
Recommended daily serving: 3-6 cups when raw.
The pigments that give blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries their rich colours also come with a benefit for your blood vessels: anthocyanin.
It’s a natural compound that can help artery walls become wider and more flexible to lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health.
Recommended daily serving: 2-3 cups frozen or fresh.
Calcium is a key element for good blood pressure because it helps your blood vessels tighten and relax when they should.
Plain, low-fat yogurt is a good way to add calcium in your diet without too much added sugar or fat. For some natural sweetness add in some berries for even more blood pressure help.
Recommended daily serving: 2-3 cups yogurt
Another good source of calcium is fish, including tinned salmon or sardines. Oily fish like mackerel and sardines also are flush in omega-3s, the fatty acids that boost health and help your heart.
Studies on fish oil supplements show they may lower your blood pressure, especially if your high blood pressure is moderate or severe.
Recommended daily serving: 3-6 ounces
Seeds are super
Add unsalted seeds like pumpkin, flax, and sunflower to salads, yogurt, or oatmeal to help lower your blood pressure.
Seeds are a source of vital minerals like magnesium, which helps control your blood pressure and relax your blood vessels.
Recommended daily serving: 1-1.5 tablespoons.
This whole grain is healthy, filling, and low in sodium. It’s also full of fibre, which helps keep your weight and blood pressure under control.
Make your porridge with water or low-fat milk and sweeten with raisins or chopped banana for a touch of sweetness.
Recommended daily serving: 3-5 cups cooked
A study shows that drinking 2 cups of a mix of three parts beetroot and one part apple juice can make your systolic blood pressure (the top number) go down in just a few hours. Men may see a bigger benefit than women.
High systolic pressure can raise your chances of strokes. Cooked beetroot, which is a great source of potassium, is a good alternative to the juice.
Recommended daily serving: About 2 cups raw or cooked or juice.
Garlic can improve cholesterol levels, and may also have a hand in boosting your nitric oxide levels, which dilates blood vessels.
The more relaxed your blood vessels are, the less your heart has to work to pump blood through them. That helps keep your blood pressure down.
Recommended daily serving: 1-2 cloves.
Pistachios to lower blood pressure
Other unsalted nuts like walnuts and almonds can be a great source of healthy fats that help your heart. But for high blood pressure, your best pick is pistachios.
They seem to have the strongest effect on lowering both your top and bottom blood pressure readings.
Recommended serving: 1-2 cups per week.
The fruit itself is the most beneficial as it gives you fibre as well as helping reduce the blood pressure numbers.
But if you are drinking pomegranate juice regularly watch out for the added sugar and be aware there is no fibre so make sure you are getting enough from other foods.
Recommended daily serving: 2-3 cups fruit.
Olive oil for protection
The polyphenols, which are protective antioxidants, in olive oil help improve blood vessel health and help them stay elastic.
It’s a healthy fat so use it instead of butter, vegetable oil, or other oils in your cooking.
Recommended daily serving: 2-3 teaspoons oil
Legumes and beans for fibre
A daily cup of peas, lentils, chickpeas or beans can keep your blood pressure in check and even lower it.
Legumes and beans are full of fibre and can help ward off coronary heart disease, but if not used to them start small as some people can have trouble digesting them.
Recommended daily serving: 1 cup cooked beans and legumes.
Dark chocolate treat
Sounds like a plan doesn’t it? But, don’t get too excited as we are talking a square a day of a very high cocoa content of at least 50% to 70%.
This can give you a boost of a plant compound called flavanol. As with garlic, this antioxidant can raise your nitric oxide levels and widen blood vessels. That can make your blood pressure drop slightly but remember that a little bit of chocolate is all you need.
Recommended daily serving: 1 square a day
Menopause and high blood pressure seem to go together and that is related to the increase in belly fat and weight gain many women experience.
This is often related to oestrogen dominance so rebalancing with progesterone can help with weight and that in turn will help lower blood pressure.