What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure (BP) measures the force of blood against artery walls as the heart pumps it. BP measures both systolic and diastolic pressures – systolic pressure measures the pressure with each contraction of the heart (or heart beat) while diastolic pressure measures the pressure between each heart beat or pump. Blood pressure is read as systolic over diastolic (systolic/diastolic) millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal BP is considered less than 120/80 mmHg with hypertension diagnosis greater than 140 over 90. Consistently high BP, also known as hypertension, can weaken and damage blood vessels, which can lead to serious heart and health complications. Combatting against such damage includes reducing blood pressure levels through lifestyle modifications and regimens.
How to Lower Blood Pressure
Lowering blood pressure generally involves a total lifestyle change, including diet, exercise, and stress reduction. To date, the DASH Diet is considered the number one treatment modality for hypertension by most nutrition and healthcare professionals. The general premise of the DASH diet incorporates nutrient-rich foods with the inclusion of whole grains, fruits and veggies, low- or non-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, legumes, and nuts and seeds. Following the DASH Diet is suggestive to naturally reduce salt intake, though it also encourages choosing low- or no-sodium foods and condiments, limiting cured or pickled products, and reducing or avoiding the salt shaker in cooking or at the dinner table. Additional highlights of the DASH Diet and factors to lower blood pressure include alcohol moderation and exercise implementation.
Foods that Lower Blood Pressure
Along with wholesome foods, specific minerals are honed in on and promoted to lower blood pressure, including potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The following foods are ample in the beneficial minerals, limited in salt, and other recognized nutrients!
*Based on the daily values (DVs) provided by the Food and Drug Administration – Calcium (1000 mg), Magnesium (400 mg), Potassium (3500 mg). Nutrient food compositions identified from the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Peanuts are rich in the trifecta of minerals shown to lower blood pressure, offering 269 milligrams (mg) of magnesium, 123 mg of calcium, and 932 mg of potassium. Peanuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of healthy fat recognized for the contribution towards good heart health.
Nonfat Mozzarella Cheese
A serving size of mozzarella cheese offers approximately a quarter of recommended daily needs. But in addition to cheese, dairy products including milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese are rich sources of calcium and may help to lower blood pressure. When choosing these calcium-rich sources, though, stay cautious of the total salt and sodium content and stick to portions to naturally maintain calorie balance.
Pumpkin seeds tend to become overshadowed by its popular relative, “pumpkin spice.” But with one cup of the dried kernels supplying about 190 percent of magnesium and 30 percent of potassium’s daily recommendations, pumpkin seeds’ potential to lower blood pressure should not go unnoticed!
Soybeans and other soy-based foods are largely known for their contribution of protein in a plant-based diet. But they also offer over a day’s worth of magnesium (521 mg), over half of daily calcium needs (515 mg), and almost the total daily recommendations of potassium (3342 mg). Soy’s isoflavone content has also been implied to relax blood vessels, subsequently lowering blood pressure.
Black beans may just be one of the most powerful foods to lower blood pressure! The plant-based protein boasts in favorable factors, including its robust content of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, supplying 83, 82, and 24 percent of total daily values, respectively. Its high fiber content also demonstrates significant potential to facilitate healthy blood pressure levels.
Providing 4053 mg of potassium, 730 mg of calcium, and 197 mg of magnesium, radishes can aid in lowering blood pressure. They also provide a generous amount of fiber, making radishes a heart healthy option! Additionally, enjoy radishes in their cooked or raw form, rather than pickled, to moderate sodium content.
Providing half of daily potassium and a fourth of magnesium content, tomatoes can be a valuable player in lowering blood pressure. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, a carotenoid providing tomatoes its deep, red color and offering antioxidant properties, which may hold significant value in lowering systolic blood pressure. When choosing tomato products (sauces, ketchup, etc.), stay cautious of added salt and sugar.
A serving (or four ounces) of tilapia provides eight percent of the magnesium and potassium you need each day. Fatty fish, including tilapia, are also rich in the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids shown to help lower blood pressure.
Although consuming any sort of sweetener should be in moderated amounts, switching out traditional sugar with nutrient-dense molasses may be a valuable swap. In fact, one cup offers a surplus of both magnesium (204 percent) and potassium (141 percent) with over half of calcium’s daily value (69 percent)!