Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Diet Tips for Lowering Your Blood Pressure

Dr. Andrew Jagim

High blood pressure is a serious issue as it puts a lot of additional stress on your heart and if you have it for long periods of time (i.e. your 50’s and on) it may actually shorten your lifespan as it’s right up there with smoking on leading causes of health related issues.  A lot of people struggle with blood pressure issues and their primary care provider may recommend certain medications to address the issue.  However, if you’re anything like me you’ll try anything to avoid being on meds for the rest of your life. 

One strategy that has had a lot of success is managing blood pressure with dietary changes.  Dr. John Berardi, founder of PrecisionNutrition, wrote a great article recently on some quick changes you can make to your diet to help lower your blood pressure.  Below are some of the highlights:

Top Diet Strategies to Lower Blood Pressure:

Eat More Vegetables
Vegetables contain several essential vitamins and minerals that can help reduce blood pressure by improving vascular function, decreasing inflammation and improving cholesterol profiles.   Dr.
Berardi recommends striving to “Eat the Rainbow” or lots of colorful plant sources to ensure you are getting a variety of these nutrients in your daily intake.

 Eat Lean Protein
Lean sources of protein, particularly those high in fiber (legumes/beans), will help to better regulate insulin levels and improve your metabolic profile.  A diet high in protein will also help to maintain lean muscle mass which in turn helps to increase energy expenditure, increase insulin sensitivity and facilitate an active lifestyle.

Eat Whole Grains
Whole grains such as brown rice, oats and quinoa help improve blood vessel elasticity which better allows your blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow to certain areas while reducing overall pressure on your cardiovascular system.

Eat 10-30 grams per day of dark chocolate
Certain ingredients in cocoa appear to again help blood vessel function and of course tastes delicious! (in moderation of course)

Eat Healthy Fats
Consume fat-sources high in Omega 3’s (oily fish, wild game meats and flax) as they will help improve blood vessel function, provide an anti-inflammatory benefit and help “thin” blood, which also helps reduce blood pressure.

Eat Less Sugar
A diet high in sugar can lead to increases body fat, insulin sensitivity and inflammation; all of which can lead to an increase in blood pressure.  These are just a snapshot of a long list of reasons why avoiding processed sugars is a good idea for your health. And no, this doesn’t mean avoid fruits because they have sugar in them as they contain different types of sugars which aren't as “bad for your health” and no where near the amount that sodas or juices have.

Eat Less Salt
This always seems to be a staple in the “how to reduce blood pressure book” and for a good reason. A diet high in salt will draw additional fluid into your circulation and any time you increase fluid in the same volume aka your vessels the pressure will inevitably go up.  So try to cut back on your salt intake to lower your blood pressure.  As a general rule, if you eat less processed foods (foods in a wrapper, box or package) you will automatically cut your salt intake in half.

This is a just a quick summary of the great piece by Dr. Berardi who is a pioneer in practical nutrition strategies to improve health and performance. For the full article click here.

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