Statistics show that in the US of America more than 58 million adults are suffering from high blood pressure. In 1995, the direct cost of hypertension to the health care system in the US was almost $ 20 billion. It is estimated that the national medical cost associated with hypertension account for about $131 billion in annual healthcare expenditure averaged over 12 years from 2003 to 2014. The statistics show a steady increase in the number of people suffering from high blood pressure and the cost associated with it.
Blood pressure is a killer disease, which slowly and gradually affects all body parts, produces various diseases and finally lead to death. It has been considered a major and independent factor that could lead to stroke, paralysis, kidney failure, coronary heart disease, nerve damage, inflammation, and heart attack etc. These are some of the deadliest outcomes of elevated blood pressure.
The menace of hypertension and depression are also increasing in third world countries and in Pakistan, more than 50% of the adult population is suffering from this disease. The irony is that almost 50% of hypertensive people don’t know about their disease. Food habits and a healthy diet are considered important for those suffering from mild to moderate hypertension. Eliminating salt, oil and junk food from your daily diet plan can play an important role in maintaining a normal life and avoiding BP.
Knowing a few such foods can be extremely helpful for you.
20 foods which are helpful in lowering Blood Pressure naturally includes
It is an edible green plant. It belongs to the cabbage family which resembles a miniature tree. Its flowering head and stalk are used as a vegetable and is consumed as a food recipe in different parts of the word. Broccoli contains three (3) different types of minerals ie potassium, magnesium and calcium. Any food that has the ability to control the high blood pressure must have these 3 minerals. Potassium has the ability to eliminate one of the blood pressure causing agent ie sodium (Na) from our body through our urine. Thus, in turn, our BP gets normal. The magnesium plays an important role in healthy blood flow and calcium regulates the heartbeat.
There is another important component by the name of sulforaphane in this vegetable which is also considered to be an important compound that is helpful in controlling and decreasing the high blood pressure.
- Sesame and rice-bran oils
The oily fatty acid and the antioxidants (oryzanol, sesamol, sesamolin and sesamin) present in these oils is considered to be the main component while controlling the BP. In addition to this sesame and rice bran oils has the ability to control the cholesterol level also. It has been observed by the researchers that people using it for cooking their meal have controlled BP, maintained lipid profile and cholesterol level.
3. White beans
In the markets, there are so many varieties of white beans and the most common among them are Navy (pea) Beans, Baby Lima Beans, Great Northern beans and Cannellini Beans. These various kinds of beans are slightly different from one another in term of their size and flavour and therefore can be used interchangeably in meals.
These beans are a rich source of potassium, magnesium, proteins and vit C and B. A cup of cooked beans contain 1200 mg of potassium. It doesn’t contain cholesterol which further increases its benefits for people suffering from high cholesterol level and B.P. Beans are easily available, inexpensive and can easily be added to our daily food products and their consumption will protect us from high blood pressure and will keep our BP significantly low.
The antihypertensive action of oatmeal is due to a phytochemical known as avenantramides. It possesses anti-oxidants and also has anti-inflammatory activity.
A study conducted in the Department of Community Health and preventive medicine, university medical school, Chicago, USA has proved that using oatmeal in food helps in controlling the high serum cholesterol level and maintain the lipid profile. It must be included in the daily meal of the people suffering from elevated serum cholesterol level, a risk factor for high blood pressure.
Beta-glucan an important fibre found in oats is also considered to be an effective ingredient while controlling the high blood pressure. As a fibre, it is also helpful in controlling constipation and prevents weight gain, which is directly related to elevated BP. A study published in 2015 in a nutrition research journal stated that Oatmeal consumers had lower body weight, waist and body mass.
- Dark Chocolate
The main ingredient of Dark chocolate is flavonoids (antioxidants) which is present in abundance in it. Flavonoids have the ability to dilate arteries and veins, decrease atherosclerosis (decrease deposition of fatty material on the inner walls of the body) and enhance the nitrous oxide in the body which keeps the vessels dilated, elastic and relax. Taking a piece of dark chocolate daily has the potential to significantly decrease the systolic and diastolic blood pressure
A study in the journal of pharmaceutical research and opinion mentioned that garlic is one of the oldest medicinal plant known to human beings. It is used from ancient time as a valuable spice and a well-known remedy to treat various diseases and physiological disorders. Its medicinal properties have been established 5000 years ago in Sanskrit and for the past 3000 years, it is used in Chinese medicine to treat various ailments.
The main constituent of Garlic is sulfur-containing compounds which are more than 33 in number. In addition, it also contains enzymes, amino acids and mineral (selenium)
Several research articles have mentioned that Garlic is mainly used to control high blood pressures and to reduce cholesterol. It has the ability to lower BP by 5-7% and decrease the cholesterol level by 10%.
- Green leafy vegetables
The life expectancy of Japanese are higher in the world and it is attributed to Japanese traditional diets that are extremely rich in nitrate. The WHO recommends an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 3·7 mg nitrate/kg body mass.
These green leafy vegetables are naturally rich in dietary nitrate and its consumption increases nitrite and nitrate concentration in body which leads to a reduction in blood pressure. A research article published in a prestigious science journal Lancet says that Vegetables and fruits that contain nitrate, folate, potassium (k) and fibre are considered to have hypotensive (BP lowering) properties.
- Fermented foods
Fermented foods are considered effective in reducing various heart diseases, improves immunity, helpful in digestion and weight loss.
An article published in the Elsevier journal of Functional foods claims that neo-fermented buckwheat sprout preparation has 10 times more BP reducing effect than the traditional products.
The use of fibrinolytic (agents that dissolve fibrin clots) enzymes is in common practice in the management of various heart diseases. These enzymes have been found in various traditional Asian edible food items (Japanese Natto, Tofuyo, edible honey mushroom and Korean Chungkook-Jang soy sauce).
The novel fibrinolytic enzymes derived from these food products are useful for thrombolytic therapy, nutraceutical purposes and preventing various cardiac diseases.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition also reported that elevated BP can be reduced in patients suffering from mild hypertension while using powdered fermented milk tablets on a daily basis.
There are a large number of plants that are used for medicinal purposes and Cinnamon is one of them. This cheap, easily available and common plant is consumed as a spice in a variety of food products including sweet dishes and drinks throughout the world. A plan shall be made in such a way that each of our food recipes must contain this ingredient.
Its beneficial effects in elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol level have been reported in a large number of research articles.
The systolic and diastolic blood pressure reducing properties of Cinnamon has also been proved in a research work carried out in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada and the research published in the science direct journal on Nutrition. The study was conducted for a short period of time and according to the researchers further long term studies needs to perform to fully determine the potential of Cinnamon in controlling the BP.
Watermelon is a spherical or cylindrical summer fruits, dark green or light green in colour. It has a white red core which contains black seeds. Beneath the red core, it contains a white pulp. It has been reported in numerous research articles in the past that watermelon extract can reduce the elevated BP through vasodilatation.
Citrulline an amino acid by nature, was first isolated from a watermelon in the year 1914. Citrulline either synthetic or in watermelon may improve vascular function. The BP-lowering properties of watermelon may be attributed to this organic compound.
To further augment this claim research has been conducted in the Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Paraiba Brazil. Fourth volunteers participated in this study to determine the effect of supplementation with watermelon extract on BP. The duration of the study was 6 weeks. The researchers concluded that there is a significant impact of watermelon extract on the reduction of systolic and diastolic BP.
The American Journal of Hypertension also reported the beneficial effect of watermelon supplementation (for 6 weeks) in arterial function in humans. The study was conducted in the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida state university USA.
Kiwi fruit has several medical and nutritive values. Like many other fruits, Kiwis also contain different antioxidants which include quercetin, vitamin C, vitamin E and Lutein. Quercetin is believed to have control over the blood pressure, has the ability to decrease cholesterol level (maintain lipid profile) and reduce the risk of other heart diseases too. Kiwi is also a rich source of potassium (K) that is responsible for vasodilatation and regulating high BP.
Kiwi exists in two different varieties ie Gold kiwi and green kiwi. The former is considered more effective, nutritive and beneficial than the latter one due to the fact that it contains a large number of antioxidants.
The antihypertensive effect of Kiwis has been determined by a group of scientists at Oslo University Hospital, Norway. They added kiwi in the routine diet of 118 people with high normal BP or slightly elevated blood pressure. They concluded after their research work that taking tree kiwifruits daily will reduce the moderately high systolic and diastolic BP in both men and women.
12. Salmon (A large edible fish)
Salmon fish and some other marine foods are considered a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. This fatty acid plays an important role in the human diet and physiology. This compound has the ability to lower BP in people with high and normal BP.
A person consuming more than 1 gm/day of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation, for at least one year, can protect himself from myocardial infarction and cardiac death.
Jose J. Lara and co-authors concluded in their research work, conducted in the University of Glasgow, UK and published in Atherosclerosis (journal), that taking salmon in your diet can significantly reduce your blood pressure (by 4%), triglycerides (by 15%), LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol, by 7 %) as compared to no fish food. It also has the potential to significantly increased HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol by 5%).
HDL (high-density lipoprotein expels the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) from our bodies and prevent it to form barriers in our arteries.
Consumption of oil-rich fish and salmon regularly also considered beneficial to reduce the factor responsible for coronary heart diseases in non – obese subject.
An Elsevier journal on Nutrition also recommends consuming Salmon three times per week. It can decrease Diastolic Blood Pressure (DBP) similar to fish oil and significantly more than lean fish in young over-weight individuals.
The scientists observed a 5 % decrease in the systolic blood pressure (SDP) when 50 ml of pomegranate juice per day was given to hypertensive patients for a period of 2 weeks. This research was conducted by Michael Aviram and Leslie Dornfeld in the Lipid Research Laboratory, Technion Faculty of Medicine, Haifa, Israel.
Many other studies have reported the anti-hypertensive effect of pomegranate juice and it has been claimed that it has also several other diverse medicinal properties. Its long and short term use is associated with a reduction in BP. This effect is said to be due to a large amount of antioxidants present in pomegranates.
It contains catechins and polyphenols which have high antioxidant activity. In addition to these substances, it also contains magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, and Vit C.
The seed oil obtained from the pomegranate is also considered best for both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Concentrated pomegranate juice was shown to reduce heart disease risk factors.
Eating tomato and tomato products has several beneficial effects on our health. It is associated with a reduction in BP, LDL cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A significant reduction in BP has been observed in people who consumed tomato extract along with low doses of antihypertensive drugs. There systolic and diastolic BP can be reduced up to 10 and 05 mmHg respectively.
Tomato product contains several compounds which have the ability to reduce cardiovascular diseases 9(CVD). These compounds include antioxidant (lycopene), beta carotene, Potassium (K) and fibre. The impacts of the latter two compounds have also been discussed earlier in controlling the high blood pressure. The lycopene (antioxidant) which is available in abundance in tomato is considered to have the ability to significantly reduce the blood pressure and other heart diseases. Consuming tomato in the daily diet can double the concentration of serum lycopene.
15. Olive Oil
The olive tree is one of the oldest agricultural tree crops and source of olive oil olives. The fruit and oil extracted from this tree have a tremendous blood pressure-lowering potential. This oil is used for its various health benefits from the past several hundred years.
This plant and its oil contain a large number of antioxidants which are responsible for its medicinal properties. It also contains a low amount of potassium and calcium. This oil has been recommended by the scientists in coronary heart diseases, blood pressure and for lowering low-density cholesterol.
The olive plant leaf extract (EFLA®943) has also been proved to have antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering activities. Virgin olive oil (a rich source of antioxidants) also has the potential to lower the BP in hypertensive individuals and could reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
Proteins and peptides can also be derived from plant sources. The peptides are available in the plants either independently or in conjugation with proteins. The proteins and peptides which are available in plants sources have antihypertensive properties. Blood pressure reducing properties and other beneficial impacts of potatoes on cardiovascular health has been proved in many scientific studies.
It is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. It also contains small quantities of other minerals and vitamin. The concentration of fats is also in negligible amount. However, its consumption in larger quantities is associated with weight gain which is not a good sign for health, therefore it should not be taken as food on a daily basis.
In Ayurvedic and traditional medicine banana plant is used from centuries to cure many diseases. Banana is considered an important food product throughout the world. it can be taken as food by people of any age group. It is a nutritious and highly delicious fruit. Over the past few decades, the health benefits of the wild species of banana have received much attention. The tropical and subtropical regions are considered the areas which have the best wild species of banana.
Banana contains a large number of beneficial ingredients, the prominent among which are magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. As mentioned earlier these substances plays an important role in reducing the blood pressure.
The antihypertensive activity of banana during cold stress has been proved scientifically and it may be utilized in many clinical problems including hypertension. It can also control and maintain the lipid profile which is the important risk factor in different cardiovascular diseases.
Flax/ linseed/common flax is one of the oldest crop plants cultivated for the purpose of oil and fiber. The common names flax and linseed are used in North America and Asia, respectively. Flaxseeds are yellowish or reddish-brown in colour with a nutty flavour. This crop can be grown in different climates and many different products can be obtained from it. There is a difference of opinion among scientists about the uses of flaxseed. Some considered it was first used for fiber while others are of the opinion that flax may be initially selected as an oilseed crop. Flax is commonly used in Bakery products, margarine, cooking oil, animal feed and as an industrial product.
The effectiveness of this product has been seen in various cardiovascular problems including thrombosis, stroke and another heart disease. A study conducted in Europe has concluded that flax oil has the potential to reduce the high BP in people who have elevated cholesterol level. Its utility has also been proved in preventing thrombosis. Flax oil also contains antioxidants which reduced the total cholesterol. It reduces the low-density cholesterol (bad cholesterol) but not the high-density cholesterol (good cholesterol). It also contains potassium, magnesium and phosphorus is higher concentration among other minerals. It is also a rich source of omega 3 and 6 which are highly effective ingredients in cardiovascular diseases.
A large number of scientists, throughout the world that has concluded that supplementation with various flaxseed products has remarkable beneficial effects on the cardiovascular health of the potentially susceptible people.
Consumption of nuts has been recommended due to increased beneficial health effects. Almond improves the lipid profile and has positive effects on various cardiovascular disease risk factors. Its use is associated with a low risk of developing coronary artery disease and elevated blood pressure. Almond is a rich source of nutrition due to the fact that it contains carbohydrates, vitamins, fats and proteins.
Almond base diets are also important in controlling obesity and weight gain. Such a diet has a greater weight reduction ability and can be proved effective in controlling high blood pressure. The epidemic of overweight and obesity has taken the word into its grip and it is considered as most important prevalence factor in high blood pressure. Clinicians strongly recommend a proper lifestyle, healthy food consumption, emphasis on weight-loss strategies and adequate physical activities.
Yogurt is a good source of several micronutrients (minerals, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats, protein). This healthy food product is produced from cow milk with the help of bacterial fermentation.
In recent years, the consumption of functional foods has attracted the attention of the scientists, health care professionals and the general public due to their antihypertensive effect.
Dairy food products have been studied extensively for their possible roles in body weight regulation and to control obesity. In addition to the provision of dairy nutrients to our body yogurt may also exert a beneficial probiotic effect. In some research studies, it has been concluded that yogurt in collaboration with other dairy items has the properties to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and weight gain.
A study conducted on overweight healthy individuals and published in American journal of clinical nutrition concluded that fermented yogurt products contain two beneficial bacteria which decreases the total cholesterol (4%) and LDL cholesterol (5%) and thus helps in controlling elevated blood pressure.