Most of us are aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure level but how many of us really know what blood pressure is?
As blood is being pumped around the body, it puts a certain amount of pressure on the artery walls when it flows through them. This pressure of blood against arterial walls is your blood pressure. There are 2 types of blood pressure readings. Systolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries when your heart takes a beat. This is the top number in a blood pressure reading. Diastolic pressure is the pressure of your blood in between heartbeats and is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading.
A normal healthy blood pressure reading is 120/80 or lower. A reading of 140/90 or higher indicates high blood pressure. The range of numbers in between those 2 levels is referred to as pre-hypertension and is a warning sign that you probably should tweak your lifestyle a bit to bring those numbers down or at least prevent them from climbing any higher. You can also have low blood pressure, which is unhealthy too.
High Blood Pressure A Risky State Of Affairs
High blood pressure puts you at risk of heart and kidney disease as well as strokes. You can get high blood pressure from many things. Some of these are lifestyle choices you can do something about. Topping the list is lack of exercise and excessive weight, followed closely by tobacco, alcohol and a poor diet. Stress is another common contributor to high blood pressure as are certain types of medications and medical conditions.
So …. if you drink, smoke, are significantly overweight because you don’t do any exercise and eat all the wrong things, you are almost certainly going to have dangerously high blood pressure! Not to mention being high risk to wind up with a whole host of other serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes!
We Are What We Eat, Including Our Blood Pressure
Now for the good news! What you eat has a huge impact on your blood pressure. That being the case, it is entirely possible to get your blood pressure, and your health, back under control by changing the way you eat. Even if you don’t suffer from high blood pressure, it never hurts to develop good eating habits. Removing cigarettes and alcohol from your life and getting into the habit of doing some exercise are other things you can do to help bring your blood pressure down.
Increase The Fresh Fruit And Veggies
It’s well known that a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts is a great preventative against high blood pressure. It’s low in cholesterol and unhealthy fats and even if it also includes low fat dairy, eggs and meat in moderation, it will keep your blood pressure healthy. Moreover, it provides essential nutrients that also help maintain normal blood pressure:
- Vitamins, especially A & C
- Complex Carbohydrates
- Polyunsaturated Fat
Healthy Blood Pressure Means Getting Rid Of The Processed Sugar
Sucrose, or processed sugar, is particularly good at raising blood pressure levels. When consumed in excessive amounts, it also causes a myriad of other health problems, not the least of which is insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Processed sugar lurks in many unexpected places too! We know things like soft drink, soda, candy, cookies and cakes are full of it but sugar is also in yeast products like bread, cereals and many commercial fruit juices. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to read the labels on products to check their sugar content. You’ll be surprised at just how much of it there is lurking in seemingly healthy albeit processed foods! Simply cutting back on foods that are high in sugar and swapping sugar for honey in your drinks will help lower your blood pressure.
As an added benefit, reducing your sugar intake will prevent what you don’t burn up in energy from being stored as body fat! Being overweight is a major contributor to high blood pressure so this one simple action of cutting down on sugar is a great way to improve your overall health and well being in more ways than one! Your blood pressure will certainly benefit.
Sugar also contributes to the spread of cancer if you have cancerous cells lurking. This is due to the fact that sugar is converted to glucose for energy by cells and one of the by products of this sugar metabolism is free radicals. The more sugar you consume, the more free radicals your cells produce. Free radicals cause a lot of damage to cells and DNA, and are one of the leading causes of premature cell death and the proliferation of cancerous cells.
Plenty Of Fiber Is Good For Lowering Blood Pressure
Eating a diet high in fiber is also proven to help lower blood pressure as it slows down glucose metabolism. If you’re eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as whole grains and legumes, this will pretty much take care of itself.
Too Much Salt A No Go For High Blood Pressure
Before getting stuck into salt, it’s worth pointing out that, like saturated fat, it is a much-maligned substance that overall is not as harmful to our health, under normal circumstances, as it’s been made out to be! For decades we’ve been warned that a diet high in salt will cause heart problems, just like we’ve been warned that eating saturated fats per se will cause cardiovascular problems. However, recent studies have found that much of what we’ve been taught in this regard is largely the result of science leaping to conclusions based on a few random facts. Yes, bad fats for instance will contribute to heart disease but not all saturated fats are bad fats and therein lies the problem with lumping all saturated fats, good and bad, under one heading. It’s the same deal with salt.
That being said, excess salt and sodium does raise blood pressure. When this is a temporary situation, blood pressure will return to normal as sodium levels drop. If it’s an ongoing occurrence, it will lead to continued high blood pressure. This is because the kidneys retain additional water to preserve osmolarity when body sodium levels are high. Much of this water enters the blood stream where it expands the volume of blood in the arteries, putting more pressure on arterial walls. This causes a temporary increase in blood pressure. When sodium levels are returned to normal, this excess water is removed from the blood stream and blood pressure also returns to normal. If you currently eat a lot of salt and foods high in sodium, and suffer from high blood pressure, cut back on these foods. So long as those are the only things causing it, your blood pressure should start to return to normal.
Include More Of These Vegetables And Spices In Your Diet
Some vegetables and spices are known for their ability to help control blood pressure.
- Onion essential oil – two to three tablespoons daily could help drop your blood pressure
- Tomatoes contain GABA, a phytochemical that is known to help lower blood pressure
- Broccoli has compounds that are proven to reduce blood pressure.
- Carrots, like broccoli, are good for lowering blood pressure
- Garlic is one of those herbs that should be on everyone’s list of ‘must haves’ because it has so many health benefits! It’s good for heart health and also for blood pressure. Including one clove a day in your diet will reap many health benefits.
- Celery is another vegetable that’s good for blood pressure.
Along with improving your eating habits, regular exercise, reducing stress, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol consumption will all help to lower your blood pressure. It will also improve your overall health and well being. And as always, keeping in touch with your medical professional if you’re concerned about your blood pressure is important. As is keeping tabs on what it is!