There is a common belief that changing our diets if we are diagnosed with high blood pressure can help. Some people have suggested that having a diet that includes more vegetables can help. But is this true and if so, what vegetables help to lower blood pressure?
The number of people being diagnosed with high blood pressure is on the rise each year. This increase is being blamed on the many unhealthy lifestyle options that are available to those in industrialized nations, and the concern is that as other countries become more “westernized” they too will suffer with the same growth in high blood pressure.
It is believed that by the year 2025 there will be approximately 1.56 billion people who have high blood pressure. Many of them will not know they have the condition, as there are no symptoms unless the condition is acute (this is why it is often referred to as the silent killer).
The diagnosis of high blood pressure is actually very simple for a doctor. It takes only a couple of minutes to conduct a blood pressure check in the surgery, or there are home blood pressure monitors that are available that can be used.
Once the doctor has reached a diagnosis of hypertension or pre hypertension, then dependent upon the severity of the symptoms, they will suggest a combination of medication, dietary and lifestyle changes.
Some of the lifestyle changes that are often recommend include:
- Stop smoking – it can injure blood vessels and increase the speed at which arteries harden.
- Reduce or stop drinking alcohol – People who drink excessive alcohol have an increased risk of high blood pressure, and the risk increases with the more alcohol that is consumed.
- Stop drinking coffee – Coffee has a mild impact on blood pressure, raising it slightly. However, if a person suffers with high blood pressure then anything that raises blood pressure further should be avoided.
- Lose weight – if a person is overweight, then losing weight helps to lower blood pressure
- Exercise – whether a person is overweight or not can reduce blood pressure levels.
As well as the above, a diet specifically tailored to lower blood pressure has shown to be enormously beneficial, especially in those people who are overweight. It normally consists of a diet that restricts sodium and high fat foods, relying more on fresh fruits, vegetables and high starch/ carbohydrate foods (although not sugary foods).
Also, foods that contain potassium have shown to be beneficial, as potassium helps regulate blood pressure. A study carried out on 17,000 adults showed that appropriate levels of potassium from vegetables and fruit can help lower blood pressure. Foods, which are rich in potassium, include potatoes, avocados and bananas.
Also it is important that you eat as little processed food as possible as these often contain high amounts of hidden sodium which can exacerbate a person’s high blood pressure rather than lowering it.
Also, a small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that nitrates which are contained in many vegetables lower blood pressure. Vegetables that are rich in nitrates include spinach and lettuce.
Other vegetables considered as helpful as part of a diet to lower blood pressure include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, artichokes as well as zucchini (courgette), lima beans and legumes such as chickpeas and lentils. These particular vegetables contain high levels of potassium and magnesium. Both of which are essential to the human body and which help to lower blood pressure.
So when looking at what vegetables help to lower high blood pressure there should perhaps be a bias to those that contain high levels of potassium or magnesium or both. Talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
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