We’re seeing rates of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, swiftly climbing up, with Aussies at great risk for the condition. Our sedentary lives combined with our ultra-processed, sugar-laden diets are some of the biggest contributors to this trend – but there is something we can do to reduce our risk, and it starts with what we put on our plates. Here are 4 impressive foods to combat hypertension.
Hypertension is a rapidly growing blight on our society, affecting around a third of Aussie adults. One of the big issues that accompanies this rate of affliction is the fact that it's one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. It’s 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 diastolic blood pressure describing the arterial pressure when your heart beats and the systolic blood pressure when your heart rests between beats. Hypertension is considered a “silent killer” due to the fact that it often comes without symptoms, leaving many people in serious danger that may have been building for years before their diagnosis.
Swiss chard, also known as silverbeet, is a nutrient-dense green veggie which has a number of hypertension-fighting properties. For starters, it’s loaded with potassium, packing in an impressive 17% of our daily recommended intake (RDI) for the nutrient in just one cup – this is significant because of the role potassium plays in blood pressure. For those with high levels, an increase in dietary potassium has been linked to a decrease in blood pressure. Silverbeet also provides a hefty dose of magnesium in that same one-cup serving, providing 30% of our RDI. Here’s why this matters – magnesium naturally blocks the movement of calcium into the heart, which is a major contributor to hypertension, thereby allowing the blood vessels to relax and lowering high blood pressure. Add this convenient leafy green wherever you'd use spinach; from soups and stews to roasts and bakes!
Fruits of the citrus variety are mighty weapons in the fight against hypertension, and it all comes down to their nutritional profile. From their vitamins and minerals down to their antioxidant content, these fruits are known to lower high blood pressure – and your risk for high blood pressure – making them a heart-healthy choice. A study found that simply consuming lemon juice every day can reduce systolic blood pressure, with the antioxidants and citric acid believed to be the main reason for its impressive effects. But it’s not just lemons – grapefruit has also been found to naturally lower high blood pressure in a number of studies, while oranges also offer impressive benefits.
Whole grains are always a good choice when it comes to boosting your health – from the fibre content to protein and iron, these grains play an important role in our overall health, with research finding a risk reduction for hypertension of 8% for those who upped their intake of whole grains. But amaranth in particular is loaded with magnesium, which, as we mentioned earlier, is vital in the fight against high blood pressure. Just a cup packs in a whopping 38% of the RDI, knocking a number of other grains out of the park in this regard. It also doesn’t hurt that amaranth is delicious – you can cook it up similarly to porridge and add your favourite fruits, nuts and yoghurt, or you may even wish to enjoy it as a savoury dish.
Carrots are a versatile, affordable and highly-nutritious veggie – and they also happen to be loaded with properties that combat high blood pressure. These properties include antioxidants like p-coumaric which are known to relax the blood vessels, thereby reducing high blood pressure levels and fighting inflammation. One study found that participants who drank carrot juice for 3 months experienced a decrease in diastolic blood pressure levels – but it’s worth noting that raw carrots are believed to be more effective than cooked carrots when it comes to fighting high blood pressure.
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