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When you go to your yearly physical and have your blood pressure taken, the nurse or doctor is measuring the force of blood driving against the arteries in your body. There are actually two numbers associated with blood pressure readings: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure is the first number that measures the magnitude of force acting upon your arteries while your heart is beating. The diastolic pressure is the second number that measures the magnitude of force acting upon your arteries while your heart is resting between heartbeats. A blood pressure reading that is 120/80 or less is considered “normal” in a physician’s eyes, while readings higher than 120/80 can lead to heart and kidney complications along with an increased risk of stroke. I feel strongly that health problems can be either solved or at least improved by following a healthy diet. Therefore, in the words of Hippocrates, this week we are going to “let thy food be thy medicine” and seek natural routes to lowering blood pressure. Below you’ll find a list of seven foods that can help combat high blood pressure in those at risk of developing it or who already have it:
1. Chili Peppers – Believe it or not, chili peppers contain cayenne, which does have properties that lower blood pressure. Consider dicing the peppers finely and incorporating them into your salads, soups, sandwiches…I’ve heard they’re even yummy in scrambled eggs! Just remember that before consuming them, remove the stem and seeds, as these parts of the pepper definitely pack the most punch in the spice department!
2. Hibiscus Ice Tea – Well, you’re going to need something to restore your senses after the hot chili peppers, and this drink is a perfect and refreshing fix! Look for hibiscus tea (it’s the main ingredient in Red Zinger tea) at the grocery store or purchase hibiscus leaves and make it yourself. Studies have shown that hibiscus tea has diuretic properties and that it opens the arteries. Drinking this tea (hot or iced) on a regular basis will help to lower systolic blood pressure.
3. Spinach – This leafy green offers an abundance of nutrients, including magnesium, which aids the body in attaining a lower blood pressure. It’s a versatile vegetable and is a wonderful addition to quiche, tarts, and sandwiches. It can also act as the base to a world of different salads. If you just can’t stand it, try sneaking some into your breakfast smoothie in the morning. Although it might alter the color a bit, you won’t be able to taste it!
4. Bananas – These fruits contain potassium, and potassium plays an essential role in healthy blood pressure, not to mention overall wellness. Bananas are great on their own and even tastier in banana bread.
5. Watermelon – A slice of watermelon is a great choice because it contains an amino acid called L-citrulline/L-arginine. Have you ever tried grilled watermelon? Simply cut the melon into thick slices and place on the grill. You’ll soon have a delicious and smoky flavor on the outside, with a sweeter taste revealed as you dig deeper inside.
6. Chocolate – I couldn’t forget chocolate! As we know from a previous blog post, opting for an organic dark chocolate would be most beneficial for your health.
7. Sunflower Seeds – These seeds, which are an excellent source of magnesium which helps to lower blood pressure, serve as a good crunch for trail mixes…just remember to always purchase a brand that is sodium free!
Please feel free to share any other foods you know of that can help to lower blood pressure.
Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,
Bauer, Joy. Joy Bauer. Everyday Health Incorporated. 2013. Web. 20 April 2013.
Chan, Amanda. “Raisins & 7 Other Foods that Could Naturally Lower Blood Pressure.” Huffington Post. 28 March 2012: Web. The Huffington Post.com, Incorporated. 20 April 2013.
Louis, PF. Natural News. Natural News Network. 2013. Web. 20 April 2013.