Lower Your Blood Pressure by Trying These Simple Science-Backed Tricks
According to the July/August issue of Eating Well, 2 out of every 3 Americans over the age of 60 are clinically hypertensive. The cut-off value for a diagnosis of high blood pressure is when your blood pressure reading is greater than 140/90. Does this mean that you too are statistically likely to have high blood pressure and be at an increased risk of heart disease or stroke? Does this mean that you too will have to take daily hypertension meds until the day you die? Not necessarily. According to Eating Well writer Lindsay Westley, adopting some of these simple science-backed tricks may lower your blood pressure and keep you healthy.
Lower Blood Pressure Trick #1: You can’t beat beets
Eating well tells its readers that one study published in the journal Hypertension revealed that when a small study group was given just 8 ounces of beet juice to drink a day that their blood pressure dropped an average of 10 points. Furthermore, that drop lasted for up to 24 hours.
Researchers believe that this blood pressure lowering effect may be due to nitrates found in beets and leafy green vegetables that actually widen blood vessels, which in turn increases blood flow and decreases pressure.
Lower Blood Pressure Trick #2: Go nuts with walnuts
Although not as fast-acting as beet juice, one study according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that when adults ate ½ cup of walnuts a day for 4 months that they had better blood flow, lower blood pressure readings and smaller waist sizes.
The added benefit was that in spite of consuming an extra 350 calories per day from the walnuts, the added calories did not translate into weight gain for the study participants.
Although not proven, walnut’s blood pressure lowering ability is likely due to any one (or all) of its components that includes healthy fats, fiber and magnesium.
Lower Blood Pressure Trick #3: Relax with flaxseed
Another study published in the journal Hypertension found that study participants who ate just 3 tablespoons of flaxseed daily for 6 months lowered their blood pressure by 10 percent, whereas those compared without flaxseed saw either no change or a slight increase in their blood pressure numbers.
The components of flaxseed that are attributed to lowering blood pressure include its anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, phytoestrogens and fiber. Adding flaxseed to your diet is as simple as sprinkling it into a yogurt, smoothie or granola cereal.
Lower Blood Pressure Trick #4: Replace one-half hour of TV with exercise
According to Eating Well, research shows that working out just 35 minutes a day—every day—decreases your risk of developing high blood pressure by a whopping 19 percent.
Lower Blood Pressure Trick #5: Get hitched.
According to a study published in the Journal of Hypertension, being married in comparison to being single carries several benefits to it, one of which is lower blood pressure. This benefit is believed to be a reflection of the tendency of married couples to have better overall health. However, no mention was made about what happens when children are factored in afterward.
Lower Blood Pressure Trick #6: Don’t have a cow, man!
Not only do vegetarians have less body fat than meat eaters, but their blood pressure on average is lower by 7 points on the diastolic (top number) and lower by 5 points systolic (lower number), as pointed out by a JAMA Internal Medicine review.
Lower Blood Pressure Trick #7: There’s more to life than bananas
Ask anyone to name a potassium-rich food and invariably the answer will almost always be “Bananas.” However, writer Lindsay Westley tells readers to look beyond the banana—with its 12% daily value per serving―and try these other foods that pack more potassium per serving:
• Avocadoes (1/2 cup, 16% daily value)
• Salmon (4 oz., 15% daily value)
• Dark Leafy Greens (1 cup spinach, 24% daily value)
• White Beans (1/2 cup, 17% daily value)
• Baked Potato plus skin (1 medium, 26% daily value)
• Dried Apricots (1/2 cup, 22% daily value)
• Baked Acorn Squash (1 cup, 26% daily value)
• Yogurt (1 cup nonfat plain, 18% daily value)
Potassium works on lowering blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium, which raises blood pressure when too much is in a diet.
For an informative article on how to make sure that your blood pressure readings are being taken the correct way, see what this study has to say about the need for blood pressure checking reform.
Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket
Reference: Eating Well, July/August 2014 issue