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Sep 2

10 Foods That Lower Your Blood Pressure – Men’s Health

If youre one of the nearly half of American adults with hypertensionor if you want to avoid becoming one of thema few dietary tweaks (plus regular exercise and shedding excess belly fat) could make a big difference.

One of the best ways to upgrade your diet is to add more plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains. A study review in the Journal of Hypertension showed that people who ate plant-rich diets, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, Nordic diet, or Mediterranean diet, had lower blood pressures on average than those who didnt.

You can still eat animal foods like meat and dairythe idea is just to add more plants into the mix. Plant foods tend to be high in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and others that help counterbalance sodium, a mineral many Americans overeat, to keep blood pressure in check.

Think of the relationship between sodium and these other minerals kind of like as a pulley system, says Roberta Anding, MS, RD/LD, a dietitian and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine. When you think about high-sodium foods, usually things that are really high in sodium are low in these other nutrients, and what you're trying to do is balance these out, so it's not like you can never have salt or anything that's got sodium in it, but the question is what is on the other side of the pulley system.

Follow the American Heart Associations guideline of less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Then, add more of the following foods to your diet to help you keep your BP in the safe zone.

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Your favorite salads can help you lower your blood pressure and protect your heart, thanks in part to a compound called nitrate, which helps blood vessels open and close. In a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, people who ate the most nitrate-rich vegetables had lower systolic blood pressures, by about three points on average, than people who ate the least. Then, over the following 23 years, people who consumed about 60 milligrams of nitrate from vegetables per day had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who ate less. Lettuce was the top nitrate-rich vegetable in participants diets. The researchers say about a cup of green leafy vegetables per day could be enough to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Check out the easiest way to eat a whole day's worth of greens in one sittingand it's not a smoothie.

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Beet juice is Andings favorite BP-reducing food. The reason: Its rich in blood-vessel-friendly nitrates, and its easy to incorporate into your diet even if you hate the taste of vegetables. She has helped many collegiate and professional athletes keep their BPs in check by showing them how to work beet juice into their daily routines. You can down a one-ounce serving of beet juice like a shot or mix it into your favorite fruit or vegetable smoothie. If you like beets in their natural form, roast three to five beets as a side dish or accompaniment to your favorite salad.

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These green nuts could help you keep your BP in the clear. In a study review published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that regular pistachio consumption is associated with a systolic blood pressure reduction of about two points. Pistachios and other nuts are rich in magnesium, fats, fiber, and polyphenols that might all have beneficial effects on blood pressure, says Anding. She recommends crushing pistachios and using them in place of breadcrumbs or croutons. Those are probably the two ways I use it, as a coating for either chicken or fish or in salads, she says.

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Another nut worth cracking? The cashew. A study review published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine showed that people who regularly ate cashews had systolic blood pressures about three points lower than those who did not. The fatty acids in cashews might beneficially affect baroreflex sensitivity, one of your bodys mechanisms for regulating blood pressure, the researchers say. Cashews are also rich in arginine, which your body uses to make nitric oxide to expand and contract your blood vessels.

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Good old H2O can help you regulate your BP. In a study published in the journal Nutrients, healthy adults who drank an extra 550 milliliters of water in the morning and at bedtime reduced their systolic blood pressure by about six points within 12 weeks. The extra hydration might have helped study participants in multiple ways, such as improving their kidney function to help them clear excess sodium and water, changing their secretion of hormones involved in raising BP, or decreasing resistance in their circulatory system, the researchers say. (Check out this guideline for how much water you should be drinking in a day.)

If you already have hypertension and take medicine to control it, talk with your doctor before changing your fluid intake. This is especially important if you take a diuretic, which works by helping your body clear out excess water and sodium, says Anding.

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Sipping tea could help you calm your mind and tame your blood pressure. A study review published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine suggests that drinking about three to four cups of tea daily, especially green tea, could reduce systolic blood pressure by about 3.5 points and diastolic blood pressure by about a point. Antioxidants in tea might lower blood pressure in many ways, such as increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide to dilate blood vessels, suppressing a hormone system known to trigger blood pressure increases, and reducing inflammation, the researchers say.

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You can upgrade your daily breakfast with less than a half cup of hot cereal. In a study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, people with hypertension who consumed 30 grams of fiber-rich oat bran daily reduced their systolic blood pressure by an average of 15 points and their diastolic blood pressure by an average of 10 points within 30 days. The bran eaters then needed less BP-lowering medication than people in the control group. One reason: The bran diet induced a beneficial shift in gut bacteria toward species that produce short-chain fatty acids that might activate receptors in the kidneys and blood vessels in a way that benefits blood pressure regulation.

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Beans are sometimes lauded as magical foods, and heres another reason to believe. In a study published in the journal Nutrients, people who ate 55 to 70 grams of legumes (about one-third of a cup of cooked lentils or beans) per day were 43 percent less likely to develop hypertension over nearly four years than people who ate less. Legumes tend to be high in potassium plus filling fiber and protein, says Anding. Pair them with other BP-reducing foods for a healthy meal; for example, you can add nuts to lentil curries for creaminess and crunch, she recommends.

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In a study published in the journal Nutrients, people who added 1,000 milligrams of potassium per day from baked or boiled potatoes (thats about a potato and a half) to their daily diets reduced their systolic blood pressure by about three more points than people on a control diet within just 17 days. Potatoes are rich in potassium and may help reduce sodium retention, the researchers say. Sadly, people fed French Fries didnt reap the same benefits. Check out other ways potatoes are great for you here.

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Fatty fish like salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help transfer sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and fluids into your cells and aid your bodys regulation of an important hormone. Omega-3 sensitizes your body to your own insulin, says Anding. When you make your own insulin in the right amount, things go well; when you make too much insulin, you can have the retention of fluid and sodium, which contribute to high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish, such as salmon, tuna, or cod, per week.

Julie Stewart is a writer and content strategist whose work has also appeared in Health, and Womens Health, Everyday Health, Vice, and Shape.

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10 Foods That Lower Your Blood Pressure - Men's Health

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