What to eat if you have high blood pressure

Mary Cotter Nutritional Therapist More by this author
Putting the right things in and taking the wrong things out of your diet can be difficult. This guide from Nutritional Therapist, Mary Cotter, will help you make the right choices if you have high blood pressure.

Magnesium

Magnesium is needed for muscles to relax after contraction and may help with high blood pressure. Get it from dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard; whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice; and nuts and seeds such as raw cashews, sesame and pumpkin seeds.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate has a number of beneficial properties that help it to disrupt plaque formation in the arteries and generally improve cardiovascular health. Stir pomegranate seeds into plain natural yoghurt and sprinkle ground flaxseeds on top. Get plenty of the benefits by drinking a small glass of pomegranate juice (with no added sugar) daily.

Antioxidants and vitamin C

Antioxidant and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables include carrots, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watercress, cabbage, tomatoes, blueberries, kiwi and kale. Here's a tip if you don’t particularly like sprouts: roast them in olive oil and add balsamic vinegar in the last 10 minutes of cooking to give them a lovely glaze. They also work well sliced in a stir fry.

Raw garlic

Smelly breath may be worth your while if blood pressure is a concern for you. Garlic contains allicin, a natural antibiotic, and is linked to dramatic blood pressure improvements. It needs to be raw and plentiful, so think about adding it to an olive oil and lemon juice salad dressing or stir it in at the end of cooking.

Beetroot

Beetroot contains nitrates which support vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels) which in turn reduces blood pressure. Try juicing beetroot with carrot, apple and ginger, roast it or grate it into a salad.

Find out more about how nitrates lower blood pressure.

Oily Fish (Omega 3)

Oily fish such as trout, wild salmon, sardines and mackerel contain anti-inflammatory essential fats, also known as good cholesterol. Eat two to three times per week.

Fibre

Increase your fibre. Start the day with plain, unsweetened/unsalted porridge sprinkled with ground flaxseeds, snack on raw nuts and carrot and celery sticks. Switch all carbohydrates to whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta and quinoa. Add pulses to soups and stews, and have an extra portion of vegetables or a salad with your sandwich instead of crisps.

Celery helps blood vessels expand and helps to prevent high blood pressure. Eat four celery sticks dipped in hummus.

Avoid the three S’s if you have high blood pressure

Salt

Lower your salt intake. Salt hides in everyday products such as bread, rolls, butter, crisps, biscuits and ready-prepared meals. If you use extra salt, switch sodium-based table salt for Himalayan crystal salt or seaweed salt and use sparingly. These are magnesium and potassium-based salts.

Stimulants

Reduce stimulants such as tea, coffee, alcohol, sugar and energy drinks. Caffeine puts the body on ‘high alert’ triggering the release of stress hormones, increasing your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. Switch to redbush tea or natural coffee alternatives.

Sugar

Sugar is a problem as sugar converts into fat if not used up during exercise. Be aware that many ‘diet’ and ‘low-fat’ foods and flavoured yoghurts are laced with sugar. Read the labels.

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