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High Flavanol Foods You Should Eat To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Eating specific foods can lower your blood pressure.

A new study reports for the first time just how effective eating high flavanol foods are toward lowering your blood pressure. Discover some of the recommended foods you should eat to treat your hypertension.

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Super Foods For Treating High Blood Pressure

As recently reported, individuals with metabolic syndrome are especially susceptible to dying from COVID-19 if they have 3 of the 5 risk factors that include obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess abdominal fat.

While weight loss surgery has shown promise as a faster way to lose weight with some distinct benefits, dieting and eating foods that not only shed pounds but can also lower your blood pressure will knock off most of those other risk factors and give you a fighting chance against the coronavirus.

With this in mind, a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports tells us that new meaningful data shows direct evidence that eating high flavanol containing super foods just might be an easy way to knock your blood pressure numbers down a few tics.

Flavan-3-ols are a group of bioactive compounds found in some foods that have been shown to improve vascular function and are therefore of great interest for the development of dietary recommendations toward the prevention of cardio-vascular diseases, of which hypertension is a significant cause.

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A Hypertension Primer from the American Heart Association

A diagnosis of hypertension is based on a measure of two numbers:

• Your Systolic blood pressure (the first number) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.

• Your Diastolic blood pressure (the second number) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

While either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure, typically more attention is given to the systolic reading as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

The American Heart Association categorizes hypertension as encompassing the following five blood pressure ranges:

1. Normal—Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range.

2. Elevated—Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.

3. Hypertension Stage 1—Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.

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4. Hypertension Stage 2—Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.

5. Hypertensive crisis—This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately.

Flavanol-Rich Foods And Drinks Lower The Systolic Number

According to a University of Reading research news release, the aforementioned flavanol study analyzed the diet of more than 25,000 people in Norfolk, UK and compared what they ate with their blood pressure.

Using nutritional biomarkers from their blood samples that indicated important measures of dietary intake, metabolism and nutritional status, the researchers were able to directly link consumption of flavanols with lowered systolic blood pressure.

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What they observed in blood pressure between those with the lowest 10% of flavanol intake and those with the highest 10% of intake, was a difference between 2 and 4 mmHg. While the numbers sound relatively minor, in actuality the news release states that this is comparable to meaningful changes in blood pressure observed in those who follow a Mediterranean diet.

“Previous studies of large populations have always relied on self-reported data to draw conclusions, but this is the first epidemiological study of this scale to objectively investigate the association between a specific bioactive compound and health. We are delighted to see that in our study, there was also a meaningful and significant association between flavanol consumption and lower blood pressure,” said Professor Gunter Kuhnle, a nutritionist at the University of Reading and principal investigator of the study.

“What this study gives us is an objective finding about the association between flavanols—found in tea and some fruits—and blood pressure. This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols. In the British diet, the main sources are tea, cocoa, apples and berries.”

Other foods rich in Flavan-3-ols also include white tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, purple and red grapes, blueberries and strawberries.

For more about how you can lower your blood pressure through food, here is an informative article about how A Pesco-Mediterranean Diet With Intermittent Fasting Might Be The Ideal Heart Healthy Weight Loss Diet.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of Pera Detlic from Pixabay

References:

High Flavanol Diets May Lead To Lower Blood Pressure” University of Reading Research News 21 October 2020.

Biomarker-estimated flavan-3-ol intake is associated with lower blood pressure in cross-sectional analysis in EPIC Norfolk” Ottaviani, J.I., Et al., Scientific Reports, 10:17964.

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