You’ve just been to your doctor and your blood pressure is elevated.
Or perhaps you’ve had high blood pressure for a while, but are tired of the expense and side effects of the medication prescribed to lower your blood pressure.
In this post I’ll explain what blood pressure is and share with you how what you eat can support a normal blood pressure.
As a pharmacist, dispensing medication to control blood pressure became very common. Every few years the protocol would change. Start with this medication, add this one. Unfortunately many people believed that if they took the prescribed pill(s) all would be well.
I would get calls, as a pharmacist, about potential side effects. When I would ask a few questions such as how much water they were drinking or when the dizziness occured, it quickly became obvious they didn’t understand what was causing the elevated blood pressure or that their choices were contributing to the condition.
First let’s review what blood pressure is and what is considered “normal”.
Here is a dictionary definition of blood pressure:
blood pressure |ˈbləd ˌprɛʃər| (noun)
“the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system, often measured for diagnosis since it is closely related to the force and rate of the heartbeat and the diameter and elasticity of the arterial walls.”
When your blood pressure is taken there are two values. The higher number refers to the pressure as your heart contracts (beats). The lower number is the pressure when your heart relaxes.
This chart shows the American Heart Associations guidelines for classifying blood pressure (If you would like to read more, here is a link explaining more about blood pressure readings.)
*Rarely is there a single cause for developing high blood pressure. Several factors and conditions may play a role in its development, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity
- Too much salt in the diet
- Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
- Older age
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
- Sleep apnea
* From webmd.com
Obviously there are some factors you cannot modify like age, family history or genetics. You can address factors you DO have control over. These would include diet, activity level, how you manage stress, and whether you smoke or drink alcohol.
This post will focus on how choosing your food wisely, with a few simple guidelines in mind, can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
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One of the first things about diet you may have been told is to cut back or eliminate salt. This is wise if you are consuming regular table salt. Regular table salt contains sodium and cloride. Here is a short video from webmd.com on salt.
So what are your options?
Replace table salt with sea salt. Sea salt contains a mixture of minerals, not just sodium and chloride. Here is a link to an article discussing the various salts available. You would be wise to limit your salt intake, but eliminating salty processed foods is a great place to start.
It was interesting to learn that even with the same sodium blood level (determined through lab work) a vegetarian is less likely to experience high blood pressure. Why? A vegetarian eats more vegetables than a non-vegetarian (duh). Vegetables are high in minerals, especially potassium. The higher levels of potassium helps stabilize blood pressure.
“While dietary levels of sodium do not differ significantly between these two groups, a vegetarian’s diet typically contains more potassium, complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C, and less saturated fat and refined carbohydrate, all of which have a favorable influence on blood pressure.” Dr. Micahel Murray
(Click here to read Dr. Michael Murray’s article)
There are two vegetables I recommend incorporating into your diet if blood pressure is a concern.
Beets are high in nitrate, which is converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes the smooth muscles in blood vessels, helping them to stay properly dilated. Nitric oxide also has an anti-platelet effect, making blood less sticky.
(from Dr. David Williams’ article “One Food Can “Beet” High Blood Pressure“)
Celery contains the phytochemical phthalides. It relaxes the walls of the arterial blood vessels, imporving blood flow and decreasing blood pressure.
Celery also contains fiber, magnesium and potassium which help regulate blood pressure.
(“Celery may help bring your blood pressure down”)
I recently shared a series with you by Dr. Sears, “9 Steps to Prime Time Health”. If you missed it you can find it here. Dr. Sears shares how eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables improves our health, regardless of our age.
Whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are high in fiber and minerals. This is beneficail for digestion, regulation of blood pressure and glucose levels. Whole foods are not processed, so they don’t have extra salt or sugar added.
If blood pressure, or any chronic health condition, is an issue for you I have set aside time to answer your questions. Clink the link below to schedule your free health consultation.
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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates
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Karen Hunter is a certified health coach. She supports individuals who are ready to learn how food is medicine and powerful for restoring health.She focuses on the foundational aspects of health and wellness: whole food nutrition, safe movement, restorative sleep, stress management and having fun.
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Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the article. I have a bonus for you!
My favorite way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet is to make smoothies.
Click on the image below for your FREE copy. There are a dozen delicious recipes for you to try.
Remember, caring is sharing! Please forward this post to those you care about who have high blood pressure.