Hypertension, also called “the silent killer”, is the major predictor of cardiovascular disease and death in the Western world. Not only does it result in heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure, but is also the second leading cause of kidney failure (behind diabetes), and a major cause of blindness. And what is even more troubling is that there are no symptoms.
Those with high blood pressure are usually prescribed a host of pharmaceuticals as the primary treatment, however drugs do not address the actual CAUSE of hypertension. They only mask the symptoms. And drugs come with their own list of side effects that can sometimes be as harmful as the hypertension itself. The good news is that a Whole Foods Plant-Based diet has been repeatedly shown in scientific studies to reverse high blood pressure. But in addition to adopting a plant-based diet, there are also specific foods that contain unique phytonutrient compounds that will help to get blood pressure down, and keep it down.
Flaxseed. Not many people are aware of flaxseeds amazing cardioprotective effects. Most are familiar with flaxseed and protection against breast and prostate cancer, but in randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind studies of flax and hypertension, ground flaxseeds performed BETTER than several of the most widely prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. With just 3 tablespoons a day, you can expect systolic numbers to drop 10-14 points, and diastolic numbers to decrease by 5-7 points. A quick and yummy way to incorporate flaxseed into your diet is by adding it to your morning smoothie.
Hibiscus tea. This is one the most most delicious ways to drop your blood pressure. The phytonutrients in hibiscus are actually natural “ACE Inhibitors”. ACE Inhibitors block a chemical called “angiotensin converting enzyme”, and the result is a relaxation of the blood vessels and a decrease in blood pressure. The most widely prescribed drugs for blood pressure are ACE Inhibitors, but hibiscus gets you the same results, without all the side effects.
Celery. Admittedly, celery is a little boring. But when it comes to blood pressure lowering, celery is a star! There are dozens of phytonutrients in celery, but a key phytonutrient called pthalides is responsible for its amazing effects on blood pressure and vascular health. 4 celery stalks a day, or 8 ounces of fresh celery juice have been shown to knock down systolic pressure by 6 points.
Arugula. One of the key components to heart health and healthy blood pressure is nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, meaning it opens up the blood vessels in the heart, and organs such as the brain and kidneys, thereby improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Arugula is the vegetable king of nitric oxide. Adding arugula to your daily salad or even your morning smoothie is a great way to get your pressure under better control.
Pomegranate. Eating a pomegranate is troublesome, but your heart will thank you for the effort. Pomegranate seeds and juice offer a wide array of protection for the heart and blood vessels. Science has shown that pomegranates act as ACE Inhibitors, similar to hibiscus, and that is where most of their blood pressure-lowering characteristics come from. Pomegranates are also powerful antioxidants and reduce the inflammation in the heart and vessels, which also lower blood pressure. When looking for pomegranate juice, be sure it is organic, no chemicals added, and NO ADDED SUGAR.
Beets. Beet juice is one of the most widely studied foods for blood pressure management. One cup (or 8 ounces) of beet juice daily have been repeatedly shown in studies to lower systolic pressure by 10 to 12 points. That is because beets are another high nitric oxide vegetable, so consuming them improves the health of the blood vessels, making them more relaxed and supple. And this results in lower pressures throughout the cardiovascular system.
You don’t have to be afraid of getting your blood pressure checked, especially if you are following a plant-based diet and adding these hypertension superfoods to your daily routine. And you just may be able to ditch the prescription drugs by using these key foods as your medicine. And if you need some guidance from Dr. Stacy and the FoodTherapyMD team, contact us