Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, and high blood pressure is one of the villains that put your heart health at risk. If you want to keep your ticker ticking, shaping up your diet is a good place to start.
Called the silent killer because symptoms are often absent, high blood pressure responds well to diet and lifestyle changes. Take control of your health today with these hypertension-fighting foods.
You’ve heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But you might not know that a banana a day keeps high blood pressure at bay. This fruit is packed full of potassium -- an important blood pressure-lowering mineral. Potassium helps balance sodium in the body. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium your body gets rid of. Start your day off with a heart-healthy banana by adding it to a nutritious breakfast, such as whole-grain cereal or low-fat yogurt.
Omega-3 fats are heralded for heart-health benefits, and for good reason. They lower levels of bad fat in the blood and fight high blood pressure. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are the richest source of omega-3s in the diet, but you can also get them from seeds like chia and flax. For maximum benefits, swap out red meat for fish -- if you’re like most Americans, you’re eating too much of it.
There’s a reason you see a heart symbol on that canister of oats you picked up at the grocery store. Oats are rich in soluble fiber and have been shown to significantly lower blood pressure when added to a healthy diet. There’s nothing fancy about it; a serving of good old-fashioned oats is enough to drop blood pressure 12 points after just a few weeks.
Spinach, swiss chard, kale, collards, take your pick. These leafy greens pack a punch when it comes to keeping blood pressure in check. Leafy green vegetables are extremely nutrient-rich, and their health benefits extend beyond blood pressure management. Diets high in leafy greens are linked to a lower risk of all chronic diseases. To give your diet a boost, swap out plain old romaine lettuce for kale or spinach and add more leafy greens to your main meals.
Like oats, beans are packed with soluble fiber and offer similar blood pressure-lowering benefits. Eating more beans not only fights high blood pressure, but it promotes a healthy weight. You can slim down while protecting your heart. Beans are also protein-rich and packed with minerals. You don’t have to demote them to side-dish status. Eat them to replace a meat meal or two.
When it comes to beating high blood pressure, nuts are an important part of the equation. Adding nuts to your diet significantly slashes high blood pressure risk. They’re a good source of potassium, magnesium, fiber, and protein. Just remember that they’re also high in calories. It’s easy to lose track if you nosh on them out of the can. Instead, measure out a 1.5-ounce serving – about a handful. Enjoy them as a snack or add them to soups, salads, and other meals.
Berries take the crown for being one of the most nutrient-dense foods. These small fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Having just one cup of berries a day can cut blood pressure by several points and help keep your arteries soft and flexible so that blood flows efficiently.
You can get similar benefits from berry juice, but you miss out on the fiber, so stick to fresh or frozen berries.
Reach for a tomato the next time you find yourself in the produce aisle. These red wonders are loaded with lycopene, a potent antioxidant shown to offer various health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
Lycopene gives red fruits and vegetables their rich color and is a key component of the Mediterranean diet -- an eating pattern known to lower the risk of heart disease. Not only does lycopene keep blood pressure in check, but having high levels in your blood reduces bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of stroke.
Partnering with an experienced internist, like Dr. Stanley John here at Bethel Medical Associates, is the first step in taking control of your heart health. We offer heart disease screening tests and can evaluate your risk factors to guide recommendations for protecting your heart.
Preventing and managing heart disease can save your life. Call our office to schedule an appointment today, or use our online booking tool. Your heart will thank you.