High blood pressure is a condition affecting an increasing number of people but for those who prefer to control it without medication, foods that lower blood pressure naturally are a good place to start.
High blood pressure is a concern for us all as we get older, but so too is taking medication. For many, the idea of being dependent on chemical medication forever is more frightening than the condition actually being treated, which is why natural alternatives are being sought.
One thing that keeps cropping up in the fight against ill-health is the positive effect of making significant lifestyle changes and the following have been proven most effective.
Choosing vegan foods to help lower blood pressure
First, it’s important to recognise that not all vegan foods are healthy. Though it can be said that meat alternatives contain less saturated fat (usually none), calories and harmful additives than their traditional animal-based counterparts, they are still not health foods.
When thinking about vegan choices to lower blood pressure, we are talking about whole foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat or sugar-free dairy alternatives. Naturally, cooking all your meals from scratch will present you with an easy way to monitor exactly what is going into the food you eat and gives you an opportunity to tackle high sodium intake and a deficit of potassium too.
A whole foods vegan diet is a fast and straightforward way to eliminate potentially harmful foods that will amplify blood pressure issues, but avoiding junk food and processed prepared meals will still be essential. In the interests of transparency, it is worth noting that most of the foods recognised as being heart and blood healthy just happen to be vegan, so if you prefer not to adopt the label or cut everything out, you have that choice. Moderation and conscious eating can work together to create a diet plan that will work for your health and your taste buds as well.
Easy-to-find foods that lower blood pressure
If you need a quick go-to guide to get you started at the supermarket, here it is. All of the following foods have been noted as being key to enjoying a reduced blood pressure, so try to add them into your daily rotation to feel the benefits as soon as possible.
Citrus: Thanks to the powerful punch of vitamins and minerals found in the often-tangy flesh of citrus fruits, they are all excellent for maintaining heart health and regulating blood pressure. Do be careful though, as grapefruit consumption has been shown to interfere with pressure-regulating medication.
Berries: Any berries added into your diet will have a beneficial impact and the easiest way is to grab a bag of freshly frozen ones that can be thrown into a favourite smoothie recipe. It’s all down to the antioxidants that they are packed with.
Tomatoes: An amazing source of lycopene and potassium, tomatoes are a must for maintaining good health. Lycopene in particular has been shown to have a positive effect on high blood pressure levels.
Pumpkin: A shocking little burst of nutritional goodness, these seeds are loaded with potassium, magnesium and help with amino acid production to keep blood vessels nice and limber.
Flax and chia: Not only full of potassium and magnesium like their friend, the pumpkin seed, chia also offers a good dose of plant-based protein that is a vital part of any vegan diet or healthy eating endeavour.
Beans and lentils
If it makes you musical, there’s a good chance that it will also keep your heart singing on the inside as well. The fibre content in particular will be a useful tool for lowering blood pressure, so it’s time to master a vegan lentil bolognese recipe.
Carrots: Swapping out an afternoon snack for some raw carrots should see your blood pressure drop, though cooked carrots are beneficial as well. Celery has similar benefits as well and is easy to add to favourite meals, without being detected when cooked.
Broccoli: A cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is full of antioxidants that keep blood vessels working as they should. Regular consumption has been suggested to reduce the risk of creeping pressure levels before they become a reality, so this is a good prevention option. Pass the florets!
Spinach: Great in everything and high in nitrates, spinach is an easy addition to just about anything, thanks to its neutral taste. Perfect for throwing in a smoothie or adding to soups, stews and tasty enough as a standalone side too, it is a valiant partner in the fight against blood pressure problems.
How to support the right vegan foods
It’s one thing to add vegan foods to your diet, but if you don’t monitor the optional extras, you could cancel out the health benefits you are hoping to access. The primary offender in this sense is salt.
A high sodium intake has been shown to have a hugely negative effect on blood pressure levels and heart health in general, and reducing the amount of salt you consume, even just a little bit, will be a big step in the right direction.
It might be tempting to season your veggies, to give them more flavour, but try using herbs and spices instead. Not only will this keep your sodium intake low, it will also give you access to the many health benefits that herbs contain. They are more than just delicious, they are nature’s medicines too.
A few extra tips
Finally, here are a few extra bonus tips for maintaining good heart and blood health:
Moderate your alcohol
What you’ve heard about a glass of red wine being good for you is actually true, but just one glass. Anything more or excessive will tip the scales in the other direction and potentially raise your pressure as well as have an effect on medication too.
Ditch the cigarettes
There is honestly no reason to still be smoking, but that goes double if you have blood pressure concerns. Smoking restricts arterial flow and raises your pressure. It also costs a lot of money, is linked to countless other fatal conditions and honestly? It’s just a bad idea. You know this.
Cut back on caffeine
Don’t worry, you can have your morning coffee, but look at your daily intake and see if you can reduce it by at least one cup a day. Caffeine hasn’t been directly linked to high blood pressure yet, but studies have found a connection between those suddenly drinking it and an increase, so it can’t hurt to be a little cautious.
Will vegan foods help lower blood pressure to healthy levels? Potentially, if you choose the right ones, prepare them sensibly and put your wellbeing at the forefront of your eating habits.