Health Topics Hypertension
Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension is one of the most common and widespread conditions. Untreated, it leads to kidney failure, heart failure, stroke, heart attack and blindness.
The standard treatment for high blood pressure involves drug therapy, often with multiple prescriptions. Although blood pressure numbers may decrease, pharmaceuticals do not address the chronic inflammation which is the root cause of high blood pressure. That’s why millions of people die from the effects of high blood pressure even while on a host of prescription drugs. The food you eat, like processed flour and sugars, and animal proteins cause an inflammatory process that destroys the sensitive lining of your heart and blood vessels that cause them to stiffen and harden. Eventually, the effects extend into other organs. Drugs also don’t address the dietary issue of salt intake and the development of high blood pressure.
Adopting a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet is the first step in treating and preventing high blood pressure. This means a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, beans and legumes. Whole plant means the vegetables or fruits are unrefined or minimally refined – not fried. Potato chips don’t count! Foods that are inflammatory and lacking phytonutrients are eliminated or severely reduced to less than 10 percent of your daily calories. These are foods such as processed sugars and white flour (white bread, cookies, soft drinks, chips, donuts, bagels), animal products (like dairy, eggs and chicken) and also processed oils. Salt intake should also be limited to less than 1200 milligrams of sodium a day. And if you predominantly eat plant foods, this won’t be hard. But processed foods, even the sweet ones, contain large amounts of salt. This is because salt is used as a preservative and allows the processed foods to stay on store shelves longer, for weeks and even months.
In addition to incorporating more plants into your diet, there are specific phytonutrients that have remarkable effects on blood pressure.
Beets are rich in nitrates, which are broken down into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes muscle fibers in the heart and vessels to relax resulting in increased blood flow and lowered blood pressure. A cup of fresh beet juice a day has been repeatedly shown to lower systolic blood pressure (that’s the top number) by 8 points, and the effect lasts even after you stop drinking it.
Hibiscus tea is packed full of antioxidants but even more amazing is the phytochemical it contains called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin inhibits a protein called ACE, angiotensin converting enzyme, which is an important step in regulating blood pressure. Prescription drugs that inhibit ACE are the most widely used pharmaceuticals for high blood pressure, but hibiscus tea, twice a day, is shown to lower blood pressure as effectively and without the side effects.
Celery contains the phytonutrient called phthalides which relaxes artery walls and lowers blood pressure.
Leafy, green vegetables are high in nitrates and therefore relax the arteries of the body and lower blood pressure. They are full of hundreds of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Those highest in nitrates are arugula, mesclun greens, swiss chard and oak leaf lettuce.
Pomegranates contain numerous powerful phytochemicals such as ellagic acid, catechins and anthocyanin which give the fruit its amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It not only lowers blood pressure but it decreases plaque in the arteries of the heart and vessels, and it lowers bad cholesterol.
Here are some great phytonutrient-rich recipes for lowering blood pressure with plant-based nutrition therapy.
Pomegranate Morning Smoothie
- 1 cup, pomegranate juice
- 2 cups, frozen mixed berries
- 1 banana, frozen
- 3 dates, pitted
- 1 handful, spinach
- 2 tbsp, flaxseed, finely ground
Combine all the ingredients and blend in a NutriBullet, Vitamix or similar blender. Enjoy!
- 8 oz. beet juice, fresh
- 4 stalks, celery
- 6 oz. leafy, green vegetable juice
- 1 apple
- ½ inch, ginger root
Prepare using a cold press, or masticating juicer. You can use the leafy, green vegetables as you like arugula or kale. Enjoy daily!
Drink 2 cups a day, with 2 teabags per cup.
Spinach Arugula Salad
- 1 cup, spinach, raw
- 1 cup, arugula
- ½ cup, tomatoes, cherry or grape
- 1 Persian cucumber
- ½ bell pepper, red or orange
Top with a dash of balsamic or flavored vinegar and season to taste. Enjoy!
Summing It Up
Whole Plant-Based Diets have been proven to prevent and reverse hypertension. These diets consist of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and legumes.
A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet is the first step in reversing and preventing high blood pressure. The diet supplies large amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients while eliminating inflammatory and toxic foods.
Specific phytonutrients shown to improve your blood pressure when eaten daily are beets, celery, hibiscus tea, pomegranates and leafy, green vegetables.
Exercise and meditation are also key components to relax blood vessels in the heart and organs thereby lowering blood pressure.
Eliminate or drastically reduce destructive foods like white flour, all processed and fried foods, sugar, soda (including diet), animal products and processed oils (including olive oil).