The ONE organ responsible for high blood pressure.
Highly Beneficial Mediterranean Foods for High Blood Pressure
This style of eating can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
An Introduction to Mediterranean DietMediterranean cuisine is becoming more and more popular among all the cuisines worldwide. While many people view the Mediterranean diet as a Greek staple, its roots also lie in Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Italy, and Spain. Plant-based foods form the fundamentals of this diet, including olive oil, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables, and fruits. In other words, the Mediterranean diet strictly avoids the extensive consumption of saturated fats, red meat, and refined alcohol. However, people following it can eat low-fat dairy products, fish, and lean cut poultry. Yet, they’re of secondary importance in the diet. The Mediterranean diet serves as a boon for blood pressure management. Many available food options are relatively low in calories, reducing the risk of cholesterol-induced blood pressure. The MedDiet shows a favorable effect on blood pressure as per an observational study. Furthermore, Dietary Guidelines for Americans also endorse this diet plan. If it doesn’t convince you, then let’s shed light on the summarized report by the World Health Organization, which recognizes MedDiet as a sustainable and healthy eating pattern.
Top 9 Mediterranean Foods For Better Blood Pressure
1. Extra Virgin Olive OilExtra virgin olive oil or EVOO is the silver thread in a typical Mediterranean diet. Olives go through a mechanical process of crushing and extracting the oil without heat or chemicals. Therefore, extra virgin olive oil is the least processed and healthiest oil. In addition, an observational study states that consuming extra virgin olive oil has antihypertensive effects. Extra virgin olive oil is suitable for high blood pressure because of its high antioxidant polyphenol and oleic acid content. Extra virgin olive oil improves various aspects related to blood pressure. For example, it protects the blood vessels from unwanted clotting and plaque deposition. Thus, it prevents blood vessel damage which is notorious for causing high blood pressure.
2. Fatty FishSalmon and other fatty fishes like tuna, mackerel, and herring form a crucial component of Mediterranean foods. They provide a healthy dose of fats, which substitute for saturated and trans fats. In addition, intake of fatty fish reduces oxylipins, a compound with blood vessel constricting properties. And that’s where the blood pressure enters the picture. Because when there are no constricted blood vessels, there’s lower blood pressure. Moreover, higher omega-3 intake from fatty fish is closely related to reduced inflammation, thereby providing notable heart benefits. You can try roasted salmon, flaked tuna, or grilled mackerel with steamed green beans as Mediterranean-inspired meal options.
3. TomatoWhen talking about Mediterranean foods, tomatoes are always part of the picture. While technically called a fruit, tomatoes provide fewer sugars and calories when compared to other fruits. You can eat them raw, stewed, grilled, roasted, or as a base for curries and sauce. However, tomato juice is the ideal way to promote lower blood pressure. A study points out that consuming unsalted tomato juice improves systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Tomatoes contain a pigment called lycopene which has an antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, cardioprotective, and antiplatelet effect. In addition to these, it is also high in potassium which helps neutralize the ill effects of high sodium. Including tomatoes daily in the salad can help lower blood pressure.
4. Swiss ChardSauteed Swiss chard is probably one of the everyday Mediterranean side dishes. The leafy green is full of potassium and magnesium, two vital minerals involved in blood pressure regulation. According to the USDA data, 100 grams of cooked Swiss chard offers 549mg of potassium and 86mg of magnesium. Thus, meeting the daily needs of blood pressure balancing nutrients. Along with potassium and magnesium, the phytonutrients in Swiss chard neutralise the pro-inflammatory enzymes. They are responsible for high blood pressure. It also aids in reducing the stress exerted on your cardiovascular system. Hence, allowing the blood vessels to relax.
5. BeansBeans are rich in potassium, and magnesium, and are also a good source of proteins. They all come together to protect your heart. Be it kidney, pinto, lima, white, or black beans, they’re all perfect for lowering blood pressure. Please note that paring beans and lentils bump up the overall health benefits. For instance, a study points out that beans and lentils show remarkable improvement in systolic blood pressure in people with or without hypertension. You can add them into soups and salads to boost protein and fibre daily.
6. SpinachIt’s safe to say that eating spinach promotes better blood pressure. It is full of heart-healthy antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, and nitrates, making spinach a perfect Mediterranean dish for hypertensive people. According to a study, intake of spinach soup daily leads to reduced artery stiffness, which improves blood pressure. It’s also suitable to treat low potassium levels. You can try spinach in soup, pasta, or curries. Raw intake of spinach should be avoided in hypertensives as it is high in sodium. Consume it after cooking, leaching or boiling.
7. BerriesEveryone is familiar with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Berries are laden with anthocyanins and possess a vasodilation effect. In simple terms, they dilate and relax the blood vessels to control blood pressure. Berries also support calcium channel blocking, which aids in bringing down blood pressure levels. Berries also offer countless other advantages like reducing inflammation, inducing a healthy gut, and preventing urinary tract infections. Due to their delectable nature, you can add berries to smoothies or can be eaten raw.
8. SeedsAn indispensable part of the MedDiet, Seeds are a satiating source of fat and magnesium. Furthermore, they’re a natural remedy for healthy blood pressure regulation. Pumpkin seeds, for example, are a concentrated source of arginine, an amino acid capable of nitric oxide production. When the body receives an ample amount of nitric oxide, it stimulates blood vessel relaxation. Thus, they lower high blood pressure. Not just pumpkin seeds, but you can also try chia and flax seeds. Supplementing the diet with chia or flax seeds will boost potassium and magnesium intake. As mentioned earlier, these nutrients are vital for robust blood pressure. On the other hand, seeds are convenient to include in your daily routine. You can enjoy them raw, roasted, or as a crunchy addition to salads.
9. Red WineAlcohol is typically not on the Mediterranean food list, but red wine is an exception. Drinking red wine occasionally might positively contribute to blood pressure. However, it should be limited to one or two glasses once or twice a week. However, there’s no solid scientific evidence to back up the cause-and-effect link between red wine and heart health. Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. Red wine derived from darker grapes offers antioxidants like proanthocyanidins, catechin, resveratrol and epicatechin. Of these, resveratrol primarily provides heart-healthy benefits.
Potential Downsides of Mediterranean FoodsThe Mediterranean diet has a fair amount of benefits, but some side effects are there. However, compared to disadvantages, the Mediterranean diet offers a plethora of positive features. Nevertheless, before starting on Mediterranean foods, here are some criteria that may be negative for you.
- Everyone has different body types. Some people are vulnerable to weight gain after eating nuts and olive oil fats.
- In the Mediterranean diet, dairy products are of secondary importance. Eating fewer dairy products could cause calcium loss. In addition, it is detrimental to women nearing menopause.
- Since there are no specific calorie guidelines, it’s possible to overeat or exceed the daily calorie intake levels. Thus, people with obesity and diabetes must be extra careful.
- Some people, particularly older adults, tend to experience gas and diarrhoea after switching to Mediterranean foods. Your microbiome or the gut flora takes time to adjust to new foods.
Other Ways to Improve Blood Pressure
1. Reduce StressWe live in a world run by stressful times. Stress, be it due to family or the workplace, has a damaging effect on blood pressure. Therefore, reducing stress for better blood pressure levels is highly advised. Find what works for you. It could be yoga, meditation, reading, or listening to music. What’s more, a study reports that listening to music daily can significantly lower systolic blood pressure.
2. Better Sleep ScheduleEveryone needs sound sleep to function correctly. So it’s not surprising that even your blood pressure demands you to follow a decent sleep schedule. Sleep deprivation elevates the risk of hypertension. Thus, setting a regular sleep schedule is exceptionally crucial.
3. Exercise RegularlyA health care regime is incomplete without regular exercise. Lose weight if you’re obese. Exercise is not just for overweight people, but even seemingly fit people require at least one hour dedicated to physical activities. Plus, losing those extra pounds and fat can reduce your blood pressure.
4. Stop SmokingSmoking raises blood pressure levels, even if you’re healthy. However, this is because the chemicals from tobacco cause inflammation, damage your heart walls and narrow your arteries. Such hardened and damaged arteries are the main villains in blood pressure abnormalities. Thus, it’s pretty clear that smoking does no good for your health.
5. Follow The Doctor’s AdviceWhatever natural remedy you follow, it’s a general rule of thumb to always listen to your doctor. Talk with a qualified medical professional to know what works best for you and your blood pressure. Moreover, taking prescription drugs is effective in the long run.
ConclusionDespite popular belief, blood pressure management is not nearly as complicated as you think. The wide array of foods within the Mediterranean diet can contribute to better, healthier blood pressure levels. Consuming unsaturated fats like olive oil is one of the potent ways to keep blood pressure in check. In terms of proteins, foods high in omega-3s — namely fatty fish, are best for hypertension. Portions are essential, too, particularly for overweight and diabetic people with high blood pressure. Finally, make it a point to exercise regularly and eat healthily. While there are no one-size-fits-all diet plans, following the Mediterranean diet has significant health benefits.
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