The Connection Between Nutrition And Your Heart
Good nutrition and a healthy heart go hand in hand. For example, following a heart-healthy diet can help reduce your total cholesterol and bad cholesterol, lower your blood sugars and triglycerides, and decrease your blood pressure. For instance, potassium which is found in many fruits and vegetables can help lower your blood pressure.
Even more importantly, making good diet choices can also address risk factors for heart disease and heart-related conditions. That means eating healthier foods can reduce or even eliminate the chance youll develop certain health issues down the line.
Prevent High Blood Pressure
Practice healthy living habits, like being physically active, to help prevent high blood pressure.
By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Preventing high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension, can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Practice the following healthy living habits:
How To Grow Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is relatively easy to grow. It prefers cool or moderate weather, full to partial sunlight, and loose, well-draining soil.
For a spring harvest, plant the seeds a few weeks before the last spring frost. If you prefer to harvest them in the fall, plant them 4050 days before the first fall frost.
Sow seeds 1/21 inch deep and 26 inches apart and water them consistently, especially during the summer.
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Exercise Your Way To Lower Numbers
Diet isnt the only nondrug strategy for lowering your numbers. A 2017 review of 53 studies involving older adults, in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, found that both aerobic exercise and strength training lowered blood pressure by 5 systolic and 3 diastolic points. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on most days and targeting your entire body with weights at least twice a week.
A type of training called isometrics has shown potential for reducing blood pressure. Traditional strength training involves lifting and lowering weights or otherwise moving your joints during a routine. With isometrics, you maintain one position with the muscles contractedthink planks, wall sits, and holding weights in each hand out to your sides.
If you have hypertension, ask your doctor for a referral to an exercise program thats designed to improve heart health. Hospitals, community centers, and YMCAs may have programs.
Below you’ll find the top home blood pressure arm and wrist monitors from Consumer Reports’ tests.
Editors Note: This article also appeared in the November 2019 issue of Consumer Reports On Health.
What Are Some Hypertension Strategies
Medication for high blood pressure is certainly one option. However, if youre still in the early stages of hypertension and your blood pressure is not dangerously elevated, you might be able to reverse this condition by changing your habits.
Regular exercise can help you maintain or lose weight, and it also helps relieve stress . Eating right also helps promote weight loss, and in combination with exercise can make a big difference in your heart health.
You can also reduce blood pressure by following the DASH diet, which was developed by the National Institutes of Health. There are some specific superfoods that can lower your blood pressure naturally.
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Eat Healthy High Protein Foods
A long-term study concluded in 2014 found that people who ate more protein had a lower risk of high blood pressure. For those who ate an average of 100 grams of protein per day, there was a 40 percent lower risk of having high blood pressure than those on a low protein diet .
Those who also added regular fiber into their diet saw up to a 60 percent reduction of risk.
However, a high protein diet may not be for everyone. Those with kidney disease may need to use caution. Its best to talk with your doctor.
Its fairly easy to consume 100 grams of protein daily on most types of diets.
- cheese, such as cheddar
A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon can have as much as 22 grams of protein, while a 3.5-ounce serving of chicken breast might contain 30 grams of protein.
With regard to vegetarian options, a half-cup serving of most types of beans contains 7 to 10 grams of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter would provide 8 grams .
These supplements are readily available and have demonstrated promise for lowering blood pressure:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid
Adding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or fish oil to your diet can have many benefits.
A meta-analysis of fish oil and blood pressure found a mean blood pressure reduction in those with high blood pressure of 4.5 mm Hg systolic and 3.0 mm Hg diastolic .
This protein complex derived from milk may have several health benefits in addition to possibly lowering blood pressure .
Types Of Food That Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
Antioxidant-rich foods may have a small impact on blood pressure levels. Foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, selenium or L-arginine are good options if youre looking to lower your blood pressure. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage and can reduce inflammation, which, in turn, can keep blood pressure in control.
1. Foods high in vitamin C
Foods high in vitamin C can protect against oxidative stress, which causes inflammation. Good options include:
- Nuts/seeds like pistachios, almonds and flax seeds.
Bananas are high in potassium, which helps your body get rid of sodium, says Zumpano. Eating foods high in sodium can increase your blood pressure.
4. Foods high in selenium
Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect your body from oxidative stress. Choose these foods for selenium:
- Seafood like tuna, halibut and shrimp.
5. Foods high in L-arginine
L-arginine helps make nitric oxide, a chemical that aids in relaxing muscle cells. Some research shows these foods can help lower blood pressure:
- Nuts/seeds like pumpkin seeds, walnuts and peanuts.
- Beans like chickpeas and soybeans.
- Dairy like milk, yogurt and cheese.
6. Foods high in calcium
Studies have shown that meeting the recommended dietary allowance for calcium of 1,000 milligrams and getting up to 1,500 milligrams per day can improve blood pressure. Foods rich in calcium include:
- Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese.
- Fortified nondairy milks like almond, soy, coconut and oat.
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Try These Medicinal Herbs
Herbal medicines have long been used in many cultures to treat a variety of ailments.
Some herbs have even been shown to possibly lower blood pressure. However, more research is needed to identify the doses and components in the herbs that are most useful.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements. They may interfere with your prescription medications.
Heres a partial list of plants and herbs that are used by cultures throughout the world to lower blood pressure:
- Avoid daytime naps.
- Make your bedroom comfortable.
The 2010 national Sleep Heart Health Study found that regularly sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night and more than 9 hours a night was associated with an increased rate of high blood pressure.
Regularly sleeping fewer than 5 hours a night was linked to a significant risk of high blood pressure long term .
Switch To Dark Chocolate
A 2010 analysis of 15 studies suggests that dark chocolate may slightly reduce blood pressure. Ried K, et al. Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-8-39 If youre eating chocolate, choose dark chocolate over other types, and make sure its at least 70 percent cocoa. 12 heart-healthy foods to work into your diet. .
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Why Is The Dash Diet The Best Diet To Lower High Blood Pressure
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet is a way of eating that, as the name implies, was developed to stop hypertension. Unlike many fad diets that have their time in the spotlight and then fizzle out, the DASH diet has been popular since the early 1990s and isn’t stopping any time soon, thanks to the results that have been seen by people following this diet.
If you are going to follow the DASH diet, plant-based foods will make up the bulk of your plate. Foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes will be the shining stars, and ultra-processed foods that contain large amounts of added sugars and salt will only make a rare appearance.
Older data suggests that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks. And over and over again, results from large, randomized, controlled trials show that the DASH diet reduces blood pressure significantly. Because of this strong evidence, DASH has been a consistent part of national blood pressure and dietary guidelines.
Put Some Dash In Your Lunch And Dinner
Dont worry were not back in gym class again. While dashing is indeed a good way to get some vigorous exercise, its also about what youre eating, too.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Its a high blood pressure diet specifically designed to focus on foods that reduce blood pressure that is, foods rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium as well as low in sodium and fat.
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Excellent Source Of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble compounds, including vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 .
Vitamin K1, which is mostly found in plant sources, is abundant in Swiss chard.
Just 1 cup of cooked Swiss chard offers 477% of the DV for this important nutrient (
Vitamin K is involved in many important processes in your body.
For example, its required for blood clotting and various cellular functions .
Its also essential for bone health. In fact, your body needs it to form osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation and maintenance .
Low vitamin K intake is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. On the other hand, people who consume diets high in vitamin K-rich foods have greater bone mineral density and lower rates of osteoporosis .
Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, a nutrient essential for proper blood clotting and bone health.
What To Eat And Avoid With A Heart
- Processed meats .
- Refined carbohydrates .
- Sweetened beverages .
However, moderation is key. It can be difficult to eliminate some of these things from your diet completely, so dont feel guilty about occasionally having a small serving of an unhealthy indulgence. The trick is to keep the portion small.
In contrast, you shouldnt overdo it on some recommended healthy foods either. For example, registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, notes you should limit fish thats high in mercury, like albacore tuna, swordfish and king mackerel, to 6 ounces a week.
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How Does Diet Play A Role In Managing High Blood Pressure
An unhealthy diet that’s high in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar may increase your risk of high blood pressure. These nutrients contribute to hypertension in a variety of ways. For example, saturated fat increases cholesterol levels, including “bad” LDL cholesterol, that can block your arteries and slow blood flow.
While it’s important to minimize these nutrients in your diet to decrease your risk of or manage your high blood pressure, it’s also important to eat more foods that lower blood pressure.
Foods that lower blood pressure contain specific nutrients that are scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure. These nutrients include:
While the words “blood pressure-lowering diet” may conjure images of unseasoned egg whites and limp steamed veggies, getting your blood pressure into a healthy range is more than just doableit can be downright delicious.
Here is a list of the 20 healthiest foods that lower blood pressure. And for a more structured eating plan, consider trying the DASH Diet or “The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” Diet. This expert-approved, heart-healthy diet is one of the top-recommended diets to lower blood pressure.
The #1 Best Diet To Lower Your Blood Pressure Says Dietitian
If lowering your blood pressure is at the top of your priority list, health-wise, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization , an estimated 1.13 billion people struggle with elevated blood pressure worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that nearly half of Americans have hypertension, and only about 1 in 4 have their condition under control. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and strokeboth leading causes of death in the U.S.but health experts say making healthy eating choices is one of the top factors you have control over in keeping this condition under control. And you can start by eating this best diet to lower blood pressure!
“Generally speaking, a diet rich in whole foods and low in sodium, refined flour, and added sugars is best for lowering blood pressure,” says Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN, and nutrition consultant for Freshbit, the AI-driven visual diet diary app. “These attributes can be found in any whole-food-based diet, including Mediterranean, vegan, and paleo. A focus on 100% whole grains, little to no added sugars, lean proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is ideal.” 6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
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Pick Dark Chocolate Berries Or A Banana Instead
In addition to reading nutrition labels, consider switching up your daily treats by choosing one of these tasty alternatives:
- Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has many flavonoids, a natural antioxidant that can cause your blood vessels to open more widely to support better cardiovascular health.
- Berries. Berries are a rich source of polyphenols, another kind of antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.
- Bananas. Bananas have a lot of potassium, which helps counteract the effects of sodium and reduces tension in your blood vessels.
As with all things, moderation is key. Chocolate, berries and bananas still contain sugar and you dont want to go on a snack attack. But making smart changes to your snacking habits are easy ways to work in foods that can help reduce your blood pressure and satisfy your hunger.
May Promote Weight Loss
Following a healthy diet that includes nutrient-dense foods like Swiss chard may help you lose weight and keep it off for good.
Filling up on high fiber vegetables like Swiss chard can increase fullness after meals, which could reduce the risk of overeating.
In a 2014 study in 120 adults with overweight, those who consumed more vegetables experienced significantly greater weight loss and hunger satisfaction .
Additionally, people who eat more vegetables tend to weigh less than those who dont.
For example, one review of 17 studies with more than 560,000 total participants noted that those with the highest intake of vegetables were 17% less likely to have overweight or obesity (
Adding this low calorie, nutrient-dense green to your diet may be beneficial if youre trying to maintain a moderate weight.
Swiss chard is high in fiber and low in calories, making it a great addition to a healthy diet for weight loss.
Though Swiss chard can be a nutritious addition to the diet for most healthy adults, some people may need to limit or moderate their intake.
Here are a few of the potential health risks associated with Swiss chard:
- High in vitamin K. People who take blood thinners, such as warfarin, need to maintain a consistent daily intake of vitamin K-rich foods such as Swiss chard Sudden changes in vitamin K consumption can interfere with the effectiveness of these medications (
Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse that you can enjoy in a variety of dishes.
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Get The Facts On Alcohol And Blood Pressure
Many of us like to have a drink when we go out with friends or family. The right concoction can make a delicious dish even better or help set the mood for a fun evening. But alcohol and blood pressure dont always mix well.
Drinking a lot can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at greater risk for a wide variety of further cardiovascular issues. So when you decide to drink, its important not to have too much.
How much is too much? If youre a woman, try not to have more than one drink per day. For men, no more than two drinks per day. A standard drink is a 12 oz. beer, a 5 oz. glass of wine or 1.5 oz. of spirits.
However, if youve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may advise you on a different daily limit, or suggest you cut out alcohol completely.
And just to clear something up: Red wine isnt necessarily good for your heart the research is still unclear and we still suggest moderation.
Dash Diet For Lower Blood Pressure
Eat your way to a healthier heart
About one in three Veterans are believed to have high blood pressure. Are you one of them?
One common reason for high blood pressure, or hypertension, is diet. Eating foods high in salt or fat can lead to big health problems. High blood pressure can cause heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. But some diets can help.
What is the DASH diet?
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This eating plan can help lower blood pressure. Following the DASH diet doesnt require special foods. Instead, this diet focuses on daily and weekly nutrition goals. This eating plan recommends:
Fish and poultry
Fat-free or low-fat dairy
Limiting foods high in saturated fat like fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and coconut or palm oil
Reducing sugar-sweetened drinks and sweets
Minimizing processed foods
Benefits of DASH diets
When following the DASH diet, positive health changes are sometimes seen in a few weeks. The DASH diet helps control high blood pressure with heart-healthy food choices. It also reduces your risk for other problems including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
DASH meals with flavor
Read the nutrition fact label
Buy fresh seafood and poultry rather than processed
Enjoy fresh or frozen vegetables and try ones you haven’t used before
Un-salt your snacks by choosing no-salt-added nuts and seeds
Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.
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