Superfood Series: Better Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (or hypertension) occurs when the blood pumped from the heart throughout the body pumps with too much force. This causes the veins to stretch to allow blood to flow easily. If this continues for too long, the arteries can become weak and stretched to function at their best. High blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and can complicate other health conditions. High blood pressure can be a risk for anyone, but there are specific risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing high blood pressure.

These include:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excess weight and obesity
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Poor diet

In addition to integrating heart-healthy habits into your life, try integrating these better blood pressure superfoods into your menu to lower or prevent high blood pressure.

Berries
Berries contain natural compounds called anthocyanins that protect against hypertension.

Cereal
Whole-grain, high fiber cereals (oatmeal, oat squares, bran flakes, or shredded wheat) can reduce chances of developing high blood pressure. Top cereal off with berries to double health rewards.

Potatoes
Potatoes are rich in potassium and magnesium. Both these minerals can help lower high blood pressure.

Beet Juice
Beet juice can lower blood pressure within just a few hours. Nitrates in the juice are similar to those in a nitrate tablet.

Skim Milk
Eating low-dairy products can reduce a women’s risk of hypertension. Indulging in yogurt and other low-fat products can reduce risk of high blood pressure.

Dark Chocolate
One-ounce of dark chocolate daily can help lower blood pressure and especially in individuals suffering from hypertension.

Heart Health

You heart is one of your strongest and most important muscles. Think of your body as a vehicle and your heart as the engine.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans. We can reduce heart disease by promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle. Getting information from credible sources can help you make smart choices that will benefit your long-term heart health. The American Heart Association has defined what it means to have ideal cardiovascular health, identifying seven healthy behaviors that impact quality of life. We know that even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.

Known as “Life’s Simple 7,” these steps can help add years to your life:

  1. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Engage in regular physical activity
  4. Eat a healthy diet
  5. Manage blood pressure
  6. Take charge of cholesterol
  7. Keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels

As part of a healthy diet, an adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for:

Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day
Fish (especially oily fish): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week
Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day
Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day
Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

Other Dietary Measures:

Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week
Processed meats: No more than 2 servings a week
Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total calorie intake (140 calories)

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods daily. Remember, even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.