High blood pressure (or hypertension as it is known as in the medical world) is caused by a combination of factors, most of which are related to lifestyle and dietary habits and choices. Having high blood pressure is usually the result of a poor diet, causing the buildup of atheroma (plaque) against the arterial walls and thus restricting the flow and circulation of blood. The increased pressure arises from the blood having to be pumped harder through these narrower channels (blood vessels). We know that being overweight significantly increases your chances of developing heart disease and high blood pressure and there are also other habits such as smoking or drinking excess volumes of alcohol, which also increase your risk. But when you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), what are the foods that you should be eating?
1. Lean meats and healthier proteins – Red meats (pork, bacon, veal, beef and lamb) are often very high in terms of their saturated fat content. This means that eating them will likely mean that further LDL cholesterol is deposited within your arteries – this intensifies the effects of having high blood pressure. Instead, you should opt for healthier, leaner cuts of meat or choose poultry proteins such as chicken and turkey. Eating oily fish can also aid in the reduction of high blood pressure and heart disease, as they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which work to reduce the build-up of plaque and promote a healthier heart.
2. Lower your dairy intake - Dairy products often contain high amounts of fat and cholesterol. Low fat options are more beneficial in the long term and will prevent you from missing out on the calcium and other health benefits that eating dairy provides. Dairy alternatives such as soy, rice or hemp milk contain no cholesterol and so may be a healthier option in terms of looking after your blood pressure and heart.
3. Eat fresh produce – Processed foods, especially meats, can be packed with undesirable chemicals, preservatives and salt. None of these substances are particularly beneficial to your health when consumed regularly or in excess. Instead of choosing pre-prepared and processed foods, opt for the fresh choice. Taking a little longer to prepare your meals is a small price to pay when the health benefits of reducing your high blood pressure are concerned.
4. Boost your antioxidant intake – Foods such as berries, acai and drinks such as green tea are rich in antioxidants. These work to cleanse the body of toxin build-up and also aid the maintenance of a healthy heart and circulatory system. They can easily be added to your diet in the form of a fruit smoothie or an afternoon drink.