Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables has endless benefits. Research has shown that we should aim for 5-10 servings of fruit and veggies per day.
One serving is roughly 80g or the size of your fist.1 Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which help to improve cardiovascular health and protect against chronic diseases like cancer.
This article will focus on natural foods that help lower blood pressure, which will improve overall cardiovascular health.
Packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals such as manganese and potassium, kale is without a doubt, one of the major super foods. The key mineral in kale that gives it the power to lower blood pressure is potassium. Potassium restores the sodium balance in our bodies by stimulating the kidneys to flush excess sodium.2 One cup of uncooked kale has 79mg of potassium out of the recommended daily value of 4700mg3, so don’t be afraid to add some kale to your salad, or to your favourite smoothie as your body will thank you later.
Cashews and Almonds
Nuts, specifically cashews and almonds, are not only a good source of protein, but contain a great source of magnesium as well. Research has shown that magnesium has significant blood pressure lowering effects.3 One cup of cashews or almonds provides about 360mg of the recommended 310-420 daily value of magnesium.4 So now you have another reason to snack on some cashews or almonds.
Green tea, a native of China, is another super food because of its rich levels of antioxidants. Green tea contains a specific type of antioxidant called polyphenols, and the polyphenol found in green tea is known as catechin. Catechin is the active ingredient that is responsible for lowering blood pressure. It causes arteries to widen and relax, which is known as vasodilation.5 So, the next time you crave a hot beverage, you may want to aim for a cup of green tea instead hot chocolate or coffee.
Beet root is low in fat and rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, which makes it another super food. It’s also rich in nitrates. The nitrates in beetroot like catechin in green tea also helps to lower blood pressure by controlling the relaxation and widening of the arteries (vasodilation).6 You can choose to eat them as they are but your best would be to consume the juice of the beetroot as it ensures maximum uptake of all the vitamins and minerals it has to offer.
This highly accessible fruit is simple but effective. Bananas are rich in potassium, which naturally lowers blood pressure. Potassium, as mentioned above, enables the kidneys to flush excess sodium out of the body and restores the sodium potassium balance.2 So, whether you choose to have them for breakfast or for dessert, they are a great addition to your diet.
4. Champagne CM. Dietary interventions on blood pressure: the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trials. Nutr Rev 2006;64:S53-6.
5. Institute of Medicine. (1997). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Food and Nutrition Board. National Academy Press, Washington D.C.
6. Gramza, A., J. Korczak and M. Rudzinska. “Tea Extracts as Free Radical Scavengers.” Polish Journal of Environmental Studies vol.14 no.6 (2005): 861-867.
7. Cosby K, Partovi KS, Crawford JH, Patel RP, Reiter CD, Martyr S, Yang BK, Waclawiw MA, Zalos G, Xu X, Huang KT, Shields H, Kim-Shapiro DB, Schechter AN, Cannon RO 3rd, Gladwin MT. Nat Med. 2003 Dec; 9(12):1498-505.