When it comes to blood pressure, your diet can either be your biggest enemy or your greatest ally. If you suffer from hypertension, you've likely been told to avoid salty foods to keep your blood pressure in check and also to prevent the unpleasant side effects of a high sodium diet, like water retention.
You might miss having crispy, crunchy french fries, savory soups, and deli meat sandwiches, but don't despair. There are still plenty of foods that are not only delicious and satisfying, but that also have been shown to lower your blood pressure.
The filling fruit is loaded with potassium, which is known to help with lowering blood pressure. The mineral helps balance the effects of salt on the body, and helps the kidneys function properly. Studies have shown that daily banana consumption, can help lower blood pressure. One study in particular said just two bananas a day can reduce your blood pressure by 10 percent! Other potassium-rich foods include potatoes, dates, and avocados.
2. Egg Whites
You can start your day off with a blood-pressure easing breakfast. Have some eggs, but go easy on the yolk. Not only are egg whites high in filling protein, they contain a peptide which lowers blood pressure. A study presented by the American Chemical Society revealed egg whites can lower your blood pressure as much as a low dose of a prescription drug.
Consider swapping out your lunchtime soft drink with a cup of tomato juice (low sodium, of course). Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which has been shown to help reduce blood pressure. An Australian study found that by getting at least 25 mg of lycopene in your diet every day, you can lower your LDL (the 'bad' cholesterol) by up to 10 percent. Researchers say that's as much a difference as a low dose statin. But don't worry, you don't have to eat tomatoes plain. You can incorporate tomatoes into your cooking -- just half a cup of spaghetti sauce contains 20 mg of lycopene-- or have a cup of tomato juice, which contains about 23 mg of the good stuff.
4. Dark Chocolate
We could seriously enjoy this delicious treat all day long, with its age-busting antioxidants and mood-enhancing powers. A study of older adults with hypertension or pre-hypertension found that after just 18 weeks of eating a small amount of dark chocolate everyday (30 calories worth), participants saw a nearly 20 percent reduction in hypertension. So go ahead, and treat yourself.
Summer is just around the corner and there's sure to be plenty of this hot-weather favorite to go around. Researchers from Florida State University say the fruit is one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline, which helps regulate blood flow and blood pressure. The researchers concluded that natural sources of the amino acid can actually have a protective effect, preventing pre-hypertension from developing into full-blown hypertension.
These often-forgotten little guys are usually only appreciated in cookies, bagels, and as a dessert garnish. But if you're on the verge of high blood pressure, snacking on the chewy fruits throughout the day could be your saving grace. In one study, researchers found that when pre-hypertensive participants snacked on raisins three times a day for 12 weeks, they had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
7. Hisbiscus Tea
If you'd rather change your drinking habits than your eating habits, try swapping out your coffee with a cup of this flowery, herbal tea. After sipping on three cups a day of the tea for 6 weeks, slightly hypertensive participants saw a decrease in their systolic blood pressure of around 7 points. While the drop may seem modest for those with more serious cases of hypertension, doctors say that even small reductions in blood pressure can lower your risk for serious heart conditions.