High blood pressure is one of the most widespread blights on our health, affecting an estimated third of Aussie adults. It also happens to be one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease – but it doesn’t have to be this way. This is a preventable condition and it all starts with what you put on your plate. Here are 5 foods with proven blood pressure-lowering abilities.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, refers to a dangerous condition where the pressure of our blood against our artery walls is excessively high. It’s generally defined as a systolic blood pressure over or equal to 140mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure over or equal to 90mmHg, with the former describing the arterial pressure when your heart beats and the latter when your heart rests between beats. High blood pressure is known as a “silent killer” due to the fact that it often comes without symptoms, but left untreated it can lead to deadly conditions like heart disease and stroke. You probably know that reducing salt and added sugars can lower your blood pressure – but did you know there are a number of foods believed to have the power to lower high blood pressure? We’ll be unpacking 6 of the most impressive.
Basil has a solid reputation in alternative medicine – and for good reason. This powerhouse herb is loaded with calcium, vitamin K and antioxidants – and, more to the topic, it has the ability to lower blood pressure levels. This is because of the antioxidant known as eugenol, of which basil has in spades – it’s also what gives basil its trademark aroma reminiscent of cloves. Research shows that this antioxidant lowers blood pressure due to its naturally-occurring calcium channel blocker effects – and channel blockers are a group of high blood pressure medications. They work by stopping calcium from moving into our heart cells and arteries, encouraging our blood vessels to relax instead of constricting as they usually would under the strain of high blood pressure.
Parsley is another herb known for its blood pressure lowering abilities – and it doesn’t hurt that it pairs perfectly with a heart veggie soup. It’s loaded with bone-strengthening vitamin K, along with vitamin C and other antioxidants known for their whole-body health boosts. Parsley is a natural diuretic that has been linked with improving high blood pressure in part due to its carotenoid antioxidants. For an added bonus, these antioxidants have also been found to reduce LDL cholesterol – the bad kind.
Celery seeds are a spice known for their impressive nutritional profile, packing an impressive dose of iron, calcium and fibre for their small size – but what we really love about them is what they do for our blood pressure. For starters, fibre is a known blood-pressure reducer, but research also shows that this humble spice lowered high blood pressure in rats – and, like basil, these seeds have similar properties to calcium channel blockers.
This versatile cooking essential is loaded with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties to give your gut a much-needed boost – but studies show it may also benefit your heart. This is because of its sulfur compounds which help relax our blood vessels and promote healthy blood flow, thereby countering the dangerous effects of high blood pressure. A study found that this veggie reduced systolic pressure by over 8mmHg and diastolic pressure by 5.5mmHg. Not a bad reason to add some garlic to your next culinary creation!
Is there anything ginger can’t do? From colds to mould, ginger is believed to help improve our health in all manner of ways, but it’s the effects on blood pressure that are especially impressive. Studies show that fragrant food lowers blood pressure in the same way that calcium channel blockers do, while also working naturally as an ACE inhibitor – another kind of blood pressure medication. Research shows that regular consumption of ginger can significantly reduce for developing high blood pressure in the first place.
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