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October 1, 2019 • Heart Health

Keep Your Blood Pressure in a Healthy Range

elergy aging prevention woman oldWhen it comes to blood pressure and stroke risk, even “a little bit above normal” may be deadly. Strokes are the 4th leading cause of death and based on a review of 12 previous studies, folks with blood pressures in the upper prehypertension range (130-139 systolic and 85-89 diastolic) had a 79 percent greater risk of stroke. (Neurology, October 4, 2011)

Thankfully, in addition to highly effective medications, there are a number of simple things YOU CAN DO to lower your blood pressure – no medications required!

Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible – aim for 7 or more servings daily.

  • Countless studies have shown that diets high in fruits/veggies can lower blood pressure and protect against hypertension.
  • Superstar veggies for lowering blood pressure – spinach, collards, kale, broccoli, lima beans, soybeans, acorn squash, red & green peppers, garlic, onions, celery and tomatoes.
  • Superstar fruits for lowering blood pressure – avocados, peaches, apricots, all whole citrus, cantaloupe, strawberries, red grapes.

Exercise regularly the rest of your life.

  • One of the most powerful lifestyle tools available to you to lower blood pressure and prevent the development of hypertension.
  • Strive for 30 minutes or more of aerobic activity 5 or more days a week.

Restrict alcoholic beverages.

  • Women should have 1 drink or less a day, Men should have no more than 2 a day.
  • Alcohol abuse is considered the number one cause of preventable hypertension.

Drink green or oolong tea regularly.

  • Both contain potent antioxidant polyphenols known to help arteries dilate.
  • A recent study reported that daily drinkers of green and oolong tea reduced their risk of high blood pressure by 46% compared to non-drinkers (Archives of Internal Medicine, July 26, 2004, Volume 164(14)).

Consume calcium rich foods regularly.

  • Calcium rich foods have been shown to reduce blood pressure.
  • The best sources – canned fish with bones (salmon, mackerel, sardines), milk (1% or skim), calcium fortified soy milk, collards, kale, broccoli, tofu, low fat yogurt, parmesan cheese, legumes (chick peas, white beans, pinto beans, black beans).

Minimize your intake of sodium (salt) and excessive caffeine.

  • Ideally limit to less than 3,000 mg per day of sodium.
  • Do not add salt to your food and avoid foods with high sodium content like processed foods (fast food and salty snack foods).
  • Excessive caffeine (coffee, sodas) can elevate blood pressure in susceptible individuals.  Moderate consumption (2 or less cups a day) of coffee or tea is acceptable.

Regularly eat fatty fish!

  • The best are salmon, tuna, mackerel, lake trout, sardines and herring.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been shown to reduce blood pressure along with several other cardiovascular benefits.
  • Strive for three servings a week.
  • Take pharmaceutical grade fish oil on days you don’t eat oily fish.

Minimize the consumption of the highly refined, high glycemic index “bad” white carbs – white flour, white rice, white potatoes, sugar, and products containing them.

  • These foods lead to rapid elevations of blood glucose and insulin.  An elevated blood insulin level is strongly associated with high blood pressure.
  • These foods also predispose to weight gain which can further elevate blood pressure.

Minimize stress and the “cardio toxic” emotions – anger and hostility.

  • Can actually elevate blood pressure.
  • These foods also predispose to weight gain which can further elevate blood pressure.
Use extra virgin olive oil daily. 
  • Many studies have shown that this simple food can lower blood pressure.
  • Olive oil is rich in phytochemical polyphenols, antioxidant substances that can dilate arteries.

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