All month long we’ve been discussing the ways you can take care of your heart in honor of World Heart Day. Today, September 29th, is that day! So we’re starting with the number one thing you can do to prevent heart disease: diet.
If you focus on your blood pressure before it gets too high, you’ll be avoiding critical heart disease in the future. And the best way to fight high blood pressure is through your diet. What you eat effects nearly every essential function in your body, including your heart.
Now, you’ve probably been told about all the foods you should avoid for better heart health, which sounds limiting. Lower blood pressure shouldn’t be about taking foods away and just eating plain chicken for the rest of your life, right?
Right! There are plenty of delicious foods you can eat more of to foster better heart health. Our goal was to find the best foods to fight high blood pressure and encourage better heart health, not further eliminate your food choices.
Taking away foods will make you more likely to want to eat them, that's just human nature. So instead, focus on the foods you can keep enjoying! Bonus, these foods may even help lower your blood pressure over time.
Eat more potassium like avocados, squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, salmon, and bananas. All these foods are high in heart healthy potassium. This particular nutrient has been linked to lowering blood pressure. The reason it does, is because it counterbalances the effects of salt in the body. Having a banana with a meal that is a little high in sodium is a great way to keep your blood pressure in check!
Eat more calcium like dairy, almonds, broccoli, yogurt, and soybeans. Calcium is an important nutrient -- it helps the blood vessels constrict and relax when they're needed. However, it's highly recommended to get your calcium from food, and not from supplements. Studies show calcium supplements can counteract the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.
Eat more magnesium like nuts, tofu, whole grains, quinoa, and black beans. Magnesium acts as a middle man between potassium and calcium. It helps potassium and calcium navigate to the necessary areas of your body. It can also help relax blood vessels like calcium. So really, these three nutrients go hand in hand in hand!
We do still want to let you know some of the foods you should avoid. But this list is short, and to be honest, doesn't sound that appealing anyway!
Eat less sodium like chips, smoked meats, pizza, and canned foods. Salt is perhaps the first thing your doctor will tell you to cut from your diet when your blood pressure starts to creep up. The reason is that salt disturbs the balance of fluids in your kidneys, which makes your blood vessels work harder than normal, increasing your blood pressure.
Eat/Drink less caffeine like coffee, soda, tea, and chocolate. It's hard to say why it does, but caffeine causes a spike in blood pressure when it's consumed. So if you're teetering on the higher end, steer clear of highly caffeinated foods and beverages.
Eat/Drink less sugar like pastries, children’s cereals, flavored yogurts, fruit juices, and candy bars. Excess sugar found in sweet treats and drinks can cause weight gain, which is one of the biggest culprits of high blood pressure. Avoid eating more than 40 grams of sugar a day.
The best way to fight high blood pressure is to look at the foods you're eating, and swap those bad choices with better ones. It's much easier to do if you know the right choices to make with regards to food. Make a promise to take care of your heart health this World Heart Day and eat your way to lower blood pressure.
As always, share with us the ways you fight high blood pressure!