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What to Eat — and to Avoid — to Lower Your Blood Pressure

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Studies indicate that vegetarian diets, specific herbs and particular dietary supplements can help you manage your high blood pressure. To achieve the best results, follow these guidelines in conjunction with doctor-prescribed blood pressure medications like Avapro. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and premature death. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it affects one in three U.S. adults. Your blood pressure reading’s upper number is systolic pressure (when your heart muscle contracts), and the lower number is diastolic pressure (when your heart rests between beats). According to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines, normal blood pressure is under 120/80 mmHg. You have pre-hypertension if your systolic pressure is between 120 and 139 or your diastolic pressure is between 80 and 89. Stage 1 hypertension is between 140 and 159 systolic pressure or 90 and 99 or higher diastolic pressure. You have Stage 2 hypertension if your systolic pressure is over 160 or your diastolic pressure is 100 or higher.

Are Vegetables Really All That Great?

Yes. According to a , vegetarian diets rank as superior in reducing the risk of high blood pressure and subsequent heart damage. Scientists analyzed 39 high-quality hypertension studies from 18 countries with over 21,000 participants. Researchers found that people who avoid meat had consistently lower and healthier blood pressure levels. The findings associated vegetarian diets with an average 6.9-point drop in systolic pressure and a 4.7-point decline in diastolic pressure. Analysis found that hypertensive meat eaters could gain the most by switching to diets that included more fresh vegetables, beans and whole grains. Applying a five-point decrease in systolic blood pressure across the U.S. would lead to a 9 percent reduction in heart disease, and a 14 percent drop in strokes. Most people associate hypertension with high sodium and saturated fat intakes, caffeine and alcohol consumption, obesity, inactivity and smoking. Plant-based diets lower blood pressure by being lower in saturated fat and sodium as well as high in potassium. Unfortunately, the results couldn’t distinguish how different vegetarian diet types affect blood pressure, so researchers concluded that any modifications toward more plant-centric diets benefit health. These findings match the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that the USDA recommends to lower the risks of many chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes. The DASH diet isn’t vegetarian, but it emphasizes vegetables and limits meat, particularly red meat and luncheon meat. Another study of 73,000 people was able to compare vegetarian diets. All vegetarians had lower chances of dying over a six-year period than meat eaters. Pesco-vegetarians (fish eaters) had the lowest risk followed closely by vegans (who skip all animal products) and lacto-ovo-vegetarians (who consume milk and eggs).

8 Surprising Supplements to Lower Blood Pressure

Hibiscus tea. Studies show hibiscus tea and supplements lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.avapro2 Green tea. Enjoy this alternative to higher caffeine beverages. Studies found its catechins, antioxidant compounds, reduce blood pressure. A study reported that EGCG, a green tea compound, reduced overweight and obese men’s diastolic blood pressure by 2.68 mmHg. Chocolate. Studies show eating dark chocolate, chocolate or cocoa products enriched with flavonols may lower blood pressure slightly. Eat small quantities because of chocolate’s caffeine and sugar contents. Garlic. According to numerous studies, garlic appears to relax arteries and lower blood pressure, particularly systolic by less than 10 mmHg (under 10 percent). Participants typically take 600 to 2400 milligrams of garlic powder or aged garlic extract in single or divided doses for up to 12 weeks. Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish and some plant foods contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that research suggests may help lower high blood pressure. DHA may have greater benefits than EPA. Participants generally consume 2 to 4 grams of omega-3s daily for up to one year. Take fish oil supplements if you don’t get enough omega-3s in your diet. Vitamin D. Studies note blood pressure often elevates during times of reduced sunlight. Your risk is higher in winter, if you’re a great distance from the equator and if you have dark skin pigmentation. Vitamin D can lower systolic blood pressure by about 5 mmHg. Up your intake by consuming fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil. Also consider brief periods of direct sun exposure and vitamin D supplements. Green coffee extract. Some studies have found that chlorogenic acid, a component in raw coffee beans, may lower blood pressure. Green coffee extract also may promote weight loss. Magnesium. Studies link magnesium to a small but significant blood pressure reduction. A meta-analysis concluded that magnesium supplementation reduced blood pressure by 2 to 3 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure and 3 to 4 mmHg for systolic.

And 4 Dangerous Ingredients That Raise It

Asian ginseng. This herb may cause nervousness, agitation, headaches, high blood pressure and heart palpitations. Ephedra. The medical community believes ephedra’s primary active ingredients are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine alkaloids. They may increase heart rate and constrict blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. Essential oils. Avoid pine, rosemary, sage and thyme essential oils for aromatherapy. Licorice. Studies show large amounts of licorice containing glycyrrhizic acid or glycyrrhizin may cause high blood pressure, low potassium and other adverse effects linked to heart problems. Consume only deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) licorice. Consult your doctor about possible herbal interactions with your prescription medications before adding them to your daily routine. Paying special attention to your diet as well as medical and over-the-counter treatments will help you control your blood pressure and avoid any adverse consequences.

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