Foods that lower blood pressure

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A blood pressure screening
To lower your blood pressure, you should focus on eating foods high in calcium, potassium and magnesium
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You can have high blood pressure and not know it

High blood pressure or hypertension, according to the American Heart Association, is a condition affecting one out of three people in America. Often people can go for years without symptoms, so they don't realize the damage it's doing to their bodies. Hypertension slowly weakens the heart and blood vessels and increases your odds for a heart attack or stroke.

A Way to Control Blood Pressure

One of the positive things about hypertension is that you can do a great deal to control it through lifestyle habits. The easiest habit to adopt is healthy eating. Coupled with exercise, eating a better diet is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure.

Of the foods that lower blood pressure you should choose those that contain good amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. You should avoid foods that are high in sodium.

What Calcium Does and Where to Get It

A major study has shown that people who consume more calcium have lower blood pressure, weigh less and have a lower percentage of body fat. Most studies show Americans don't consume enough of this nutrient. Milk, which is rich with calcium and vitamin D, can lower your risk for heart attacks by 15 percent. If you don't like milk, there are other foods you can eat that contain calcium. Here are a few:

  • Broccoli
  • Cereals (fortified Total, Raisin Bran)
  • Cheese (cheddar, muenster, Monterey jack, ricotta, swiss)
  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Kale
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt
  • Rice and soy milks (fortified)
  • Sardines and salmon (canned, with bones)
  • Tofu (look for calcium sulfate or calcium lactate on the label)

Potassium Sources

Potassium works in tandem with sodium in the body. When you don't get enough potassium, your body will retain sodium which raises your blood pressure. Many of the foods high in this nutrient are fruits and vegetables. Foods with the highest content are:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Honeydew melon
  • Nectarines
  • Prunes, Prune Juice
  • Raisins
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Tomato sauce
  • White potatoes

Other foods that are relatively high in potassium and low in sodium are apples, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, lima beans, peas, peppers, radishes and watermelon.

How Magnesium Works

Magnesium has been shown in studies to reduce the likelihood for high blood pressure. It helps your body absorb calcium and is responsible for 300 biochemical actions in your body including a healthy heart and muscle and nerve functions. Here are some sources:

  • Artichokes
  • Beans (navy, pinto, black, white, kidney)
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Flounder
  • Halibut
  • Nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts)
  • Oat bran cereals (not the refined kind)
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin seeds (unsalted)
  • Sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • Tomatoes

Additional foods relatively high in magnesium are broccoli, brown rice, peas, squash, sweet potatoes, tuna and yogurt.

Foods that that contain all three nutrients calcium, potassium and magnesium are leafy greens (like spinach, romaine and kale) and acorn or butternut squash. 

Other Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

Dark chocolate (one-half ounce a day): High in magnesium, chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Celery: Celery is a powerful diuretic and contains an oil that dilates blood vessels, thereby regulating blood pressure.

Garlic: It has been shown in some studies that garlic reduces cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It's also a blood thinner, so you should take care when taking it as a supplement.

Salt substitutes: Herbal-infused salt substitutes can be a tasty alternative to using added table salt which increases blood pressure.

Foods that are high in fiber, rich in minerals and low in saturated fat will help lower blood pressure. Making these part of a healthier lifestyle along with exercising and not smoking will help you possibly live longer and feel better.

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