Top 5 Nutrition Strategies to Lower your Blood Pressure
Has your blood pressure gone suddenly up after turning 40? Age is the easiest reason to blame. However, weight gain due to metabolic and hormonal changes as we age, a poor diet, and lack of sufficient physical activity have much more to do with high blood pressure than we want to think.
The good news is that the majority of people don’t need medication to lower blood pressure. They can normalize their levels by optimizing their diet and lifestyle to create healthy habits that stick. As women, this is especially important. Keeping our blood pressure at a healthy level will lower the risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death among women.
What’s an ideal blood pressure level?
In 2019, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released new guidelines. They diagnosed anyone with blood pressure from 130 / 80 to 139 / 89 with stage 1 hypertension. This change vs. the previous guideline (140 / 90) turned almost half of the American population hypertensive overnight.
As a Functional Nutrition Coach with a high focus on prevention, I’d like to see this number even lower - the closer to 115/75, the better.
Top 5 nutrition strategies for a healthy blood pressure
1. Don’t ditch the salt…the good quality salt that is!
The common medical advice given to lower blood pressure is to eliminate salt from your diet. That may be the right thing to do if your sodium levels are not healthy and the salt you’re consuming is table salt.
The evil here is not salt per se but the refined, table salt that doesn’t contribute to any trace minerals or vitamins you need. Pink Himalayan salt, on the other hand, is highly beneficial if consumed in moderation.
The brand I recommend to clients is The Original Himalayan Crystal Salt, the only salt with a certificate of analysis proving superior quality with all 84 trace minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and more. It also provides natural electrolytes, supports pH balance, and alkalizes your body. More of this in a sec…
2. Add foods rich in potassium and magnesium to your diet
If sodium is trending high in your system, add foods high in potassium to balance it out. Bananas are great and get all the fame when it comes to potassium, but did you know that a cup of cooked Swiss chard or spinach contains more than double the potassium levels of one banana? Leafy greens are an amazing addition to your diet. Think arugula, turnip greens, beet greens, and collard greens.
Magnesium is the other great mineral that helps dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Spinach is a great source of magnesium…and guess what? Dark chocolate too! So no need to feel deprived while taking care of your health.
3. Follow a Mediterranean, plant-rich diet
I could be a bit biased here because I’m a Spaniard after all…but the Mediterranean diet has been praised by reputable experts and sources for decades.
In fact, the U.S. News & World Report named it last year “the top diet for overall health for 2020” (for the third year in a row!). It defined it as the most universally beneficial diet for long-term health and called it "eminently sensible" due to its focus on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, and other healthy goodness.
No surprise this is the pillar upon which I built my approach to nutrition and my programs. Unlike many other “extreme diets” - as I call them - the Mediterranean diet is well-balanced. It doesn’t exclude any important food groups, it’s not obsessed with counting calories, it’s whole foods-based and nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and it doesn’t allow deprivation, yay!
What’s in a Mediterranean diet? Think antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, good quality grains, nuts and seeds, high-protein legumes, healthy fats, herbs, spices, and omega-3-rich fish and seafood.
4. Consider acid/alkaline balance
Here are a few ideas:
- Have a glass of water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice in the morning before you eat or drink anything. That will help flush toxins accumulated overnight out, improve digestion, and of course, alkalize your body.
- Bring in foods that help with alkalinity - celery, cucumber, and green apples.
- Consider moving away from a high animal protein diet while regulating this balance.
- Supplement if you think you cannot get enough of the right nutrients through your diet. The one supplement I recommend to clients is pH Quintessence. Their daily dose equals 2 servings of greens. Beyond aiding alkalization, it also helps with hormonal balance, metabolism, detoxification, and gut healing.
5. Stock up on flavanols
In a study conducted a few months ago and published in Scientific Reports, researchers found a link between higher consumption of flavanols and lower blood pressure. This was comparable with a Mediterranean diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
Where do you get these fantastic flavanols from? Certain fruits and vegetables such as berries, apples, kale, broccoli, and onions. Also certain teas (white tea is perfect!)…and the best of them all? Wine! and good quality dark chocolate. Again, no deprivation is allowed in my book as long as it’s in moderation.
In addition to all this, a solid fitness routine and a positive mindset will take your healthy nutrition habits to another level. That’s for another blog…
What’s next? SCHEDULE a 20-minute complimentary Discovery Call with me and let’s work together! I will help you normalize your blood sugar levels while enjoying food to the max!