High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a dangerous condition because it puts intense pressure on your artery walls. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. This is especially scary because high blood pressure typically doesn’t have any symptoms on its own and is often discovered at the onset of another disease.
The good news is that hypertension can be controlled in large part by a healthy diet. We encourage you to eat organic whenever you can because pesticide residue has been linked to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. High blood pressure can exacerbate the damage.
Environmental pollutants like pesticide residues do not break down once ingested, instead building up in our bodies throughout our lives.
We may not always be able to avoid the stuff we breathe or drink in our water supply, but by eating organic, you can at least minimize your exposure. Following are 7 great organic foods that lower blood pressure naturally.
1. Leafy Greens
Sodium is the enemy of healthy blood pressure, even though our bodies do need some in order to help move water into and out of our cells. The problem is that we simply eat way too much of it, often unconsciously.
Too much sodium hinders the kidneys’ ability to flush out excess water, thereby increasing blood pressure. The solution is to make sure you get plenty of potassium in your diet to help support kidney function.
Eating leafy greens is an easy way to get more potassium as they can be added to sandwiches, shredded and used to top tacos or casseroles, or made into a salad. The best sources include romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula, turnip greens, beet greens, and Swiss chard.
Berries are a great choice because they are full of antioxidants, especially a group called flavonoids. Sufficient intake of flavonoids is associated with both avoiding and treating hypertension.
But that’s not all they do – flavonoids also reduce inflammation in the body, which can narrow and weaken already strained vessels and arteries. One particular flavonoid called anthocyanin is thought to help open blood vessels and allow for smoother blood flow.
The berry habit is one it pays to start as early as possible, as study results seem to indicate that there is point past which flavonoids cannot overcome the stress of high blood pressure on the body. Researchers say that results from regular berry consumption are most consistent in people under 60 years of age.
3. Red Beets
Beets are often recommended as part of a diet to lower blood pressure because they contain a good amount of something called nitric oxide. This is a compound that is able to open up blood vessels and thereby lower blood pressure. The effects are seen within just 24 hours of consuming beets or beetroot juice.
If you don’t care for the taste of beets, peeling and roasting them can minimize that distinctive earthy flavor. You can also disguise beets in a healthy berry smoothie or get really creative by adding the juice to hummus or cookie dough.
4. Skim Milk And Yogurt
Calcium plays a vital role in constricting and relaxing blood vessels, so getting enough is important for more than just bone density. Research has shown that study participants aged from 11-82 years old reduced their blood pressure by increasing calcium. The results were more marked in younger people.
We especially recommend organic dairy products because most traditional farmers give their cows antibiotics all the time, whether they are ill or not. Those get passed through the milk to consumers and are rapidly pushing the population toward antibiotic resistance. It would stink to manage your hypertension but end up completely vulnerable to the next superbug.
In yet another way to boost your potassium intake, one banana contains about 12% of your RDA for potassium, plus lots of healthy protein, fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. Potassium, if you recall, helps rid the body of excess sodium. Studies show that eating two bananas per day can lower blood pressure by as much as 10%.
Bananas are delicious plain, not to mention easy to throw into your briefcase or gym bag, but they also go great in lots of different foods. Slice it into cereal or mash it for use in muffins or bread. Banana slices can even be dried for a crunchy snack that lasts way longer than the short shelf life of bananas.
Oatmeal is one of those all-around healthy meal choices. It benefits blood pressure because it is rich in fiber and whole grains that help scrub away cholesterol. Oatmeal also has calcium and potassium, two things we already know are great for reducing blood pressure.
This traditional breakfast food is also low in fat and has barely any sodium, plus delivers slow burning energy to keep you going throughout the day. Oatmeal is a mild-tasting food that can be augmented with other blood pressure-friendly foods like berries, bananas, or milk.
7. Garlic and Herbs
Not just whole foods, but herbs and spices can be very beneficial to your blood pressure. Garlic especially contains nitric oxide (like beets) which aids in vasodilatation, or widening of the arteries. Wide arteries equal better blood flow. Flavorful cooking makes you more likely to clean your plate.
Many other herbs can benefit people with hypertension as well as people actively working to avoid it. Tasty examples include basil, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and celery seed. Not only do these herbs add flavor and depth to your meals, they also reduce the amount of sodium needed to enjoy food.
8. Dark Chocolate
We all crave a sweet treat now and again. Scratch the itch with dark chocolate, which aside from being delicious, also helps to lower blood pressure. Several recent studies have determined that dark chocolate containing at least 50-70% cocoa reliably lowers blood pressure.
The reason is probably the antioxidant flavonoids in cocoa, which relax and dilate blood vessels. You can’t go hog wild with dark chocolate, of course, because it still contains a fair bit of sugar. But eating a small square every day is not only satisfying, it’s healthy.
Hypertension is very treatable with medication from your doctor and a few dietary changes, but you have to stay informed about your blood pressure levels. Hypertension is sometimes called a silent killer because it has no real symptoms yet can cause several deadly conditions.
Doctors have recently reevaluated what they consider healthy blood pressure, with levels between 120/80 and 140/90 representing a danger zone called prehypertension. People with prehypertension are already at greater risk for heart attack than those with lower blood pressure. But with so many delicious foods on our list, you can lower your hypertension naturally with fresh organic produce and enjoy doing it.