Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic disease and can lead to future complications, like heart disease and stroke. Preventing this disease is in your benefit, especially if you have a family history of the issue or have other high-risk factors. On the other hand, if you already have hypertension, managing the disease and keeping your blood pressure levels in check needs to be done with dedication and strict discipline.
Usually, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH diet is recommended to those who have high blood pressure. The diet focuses on an increased intake of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, and moderate amounts of fish, whole grains, poultry and nuts. In recent years, the Mediterranean diet has also been considered to be appropriate for hypertension patients.
Flavanols for hypertension
A new study published in Scientific Reports studied the diet of more than 25,000 people in the UK to discover that those who increased their intake of flavanols were able to better lower their blood pressure levels. Flavanol is a type of phytonutrient or polyphenol which is known to improve blood pressure control, facilitate blood circulation between the brain and the heart, prevent blood clots and fight cell damage.
The study found that increased intake of flavanol-rich foods like tea, berries and apples not only lowered blood pressure levels but that the effect of this intake is as potent as that of the Mediterranean or DASH diet. So, apart from maintaining either of these hypertension-friendly diets, you can also increase your intake of foods packed with flavanols. The following are some other foods that you should consume more of if you want to lower your blood pressure levels.
1. Citrus fruits: Fruits like orange, grapefruit and lemon are packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C. They are also packed with other phytonutrients like carotenoids, phenolic acids, synephrine and limonoids. Many studies have shown that these nutrients help lower blood pressure levels and prevent heart diseases too.
2. Pumpkin seeds: While moderate consumption of most seeds is beneficial for someone with hypertension, pumpkin seeds are considered to be exceptionally effective. This is because they have high concentrations of magnesium, potassium and arginine, apart from other vitamins and antioxidants. Even pumpkin seed oil is beneficial for hypertension patients.
3. Fish: Apart from being a rich source of lean proteins, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are also packed with vitamins and minerals. They have high levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, etc. What’s more, fish also has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which is associated with better blood pressure control.
4. Berries: Whether you consume more strawberries, blueberries or blackberries, these berries are likely to help you control your blood pressure better. Not only are berries packed with flavanols, but also have high levels of other antioxidants like anthocyanins. Other vitamins and minerals present in berries also improve the health of hypertension patients.
5. Yoghurt: Yoghurt, whether it’s Indian dahi or Greek, is a nutrient-dense food that aids hypertension control. Yoghurt is a dairy product with essential B vitamins, minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium, and it’s a rich source of protein too. Some studies indicate that consuming three portions of yoghurt every day can lower the risk of hypertension by 13%.
For more information, read our article on Foods for hypertension.
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