A lower blood pressure removes a great deal of the strain on your heart, and drastically reduces your chances of a stroke or heart attack. Exercise and lifestyle changes are a good start when it comes to lowering blood pressure. But is there more you can do? Read on for tips on eating your way to a healthier heart.
Don’t Just Avoid the “Bad” Foods
You already know that it’s important to lower your sodium intake, reduce sugar, avoid alcohol and trans fats. You’re working to control your cholesterol and choosing water over cocktails at the dinner table. You’ve cut back on caffeine and stopped smoking. All of those are good steps to take, but did you know that there are foods that can actually help you lower your blood pressure? Adding “super foods” to your diet can help enhance your efforts and improve your results.
Find the Potassium
Potassium helps the body remove sodium. While it may be tempting to simply add a potassium supplement to your daily routine, the best way to get more potassium is to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables rich in the nutrient. Bananas may come immediately to mind when you think of potassium rich foods, but there are many others, including leafy greens like romaine lettuce and collard greens.
Lower Blood Pressure with Flavonoids
Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are not only delicious, they include natural compounds called flavonoids. These compounds have been shown to lower hypertension and improve blood pressure. Try adding fresh berries to your cereal, or blending frozen berries to make a smoothie.
Red beets contain nitric oxide, a compound that helps open up blood vessels. Beets can be ground and added to casseroles, sliced and baked into chips, roasted, or added to stir-fries or stews. The juice is also rich in nitric oxide. Beet juice can be mixed with other juices for a tasty cocktail.
Low-fat milk and yogurts are good sources of calcium. Opt for skim or low-fat milk and yogurt to limit your fat intake. You can add seeds, nuts, and granola for added heart-health benefits. Be sure to read labels, and pay attention to sugar levels so that the benefits aren’t negated by the additional sweeteners.