How to Reduce High Blood Pressure Naturally on a Plant-based Diet
Updated: Sep 22
Changing your diet from convenient processed food to fresh home-cooked food can not only significantly reduce high blood pressure but will increase your overall health benefits. Research has shown certain foods can lower blood pressure immediately after consumption and for the long term.
What is High Blood Pressure or hypertension?
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure and is called the silent killer because there are no symptoms and it can go unnoticed for years before it is picked up.
High blood pressure or Hypertension, refers to the pressure of your blood against your artery walls. Over time, high blood pressure can cause damage to the lining of your blood vessels which can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other major illnesses and ailments.
It’s dangerous because it makes the heart work much harder than it should and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). Alongside of these high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Many risk factors for high blood pressure such as genetics and factors including age, family history, gender, and race are out of your control. The factors you can control and have a significant benefit in reducing high blood pressure are exercise and diet.
Many research studies have found that some foods especially those foods including herbs can significantly lower high blood pressure.
Foods that reduce high blood pressure fast
Below is a list of foods which act to reduce high blood pressure
Berries in general are amazing in terms of health benefits. Blueberries and strawberries especially contain anthocyanins, which can help reduce your blood pressure.
Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid which are antioxidants and both blueberries and strawberries are rich in anthocyanins.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied more than 34,000 people with high blood pressure. Researchers found that those with the highest intake of anthocyanins — mainly from blueberries and strawberries — had an 8 percent reduced risk of high blood pressure, compared to those people with a low anthocyanin intake.
Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline, which may can to manage high blood pressure.
After consumed, some of the citrulline is converted to another amino acid called arginine.
Arginine is then converted into a molecule called nitric oxide which is a vasodilator and is responsible for the vasodilation of the blood vessels. Nitric oxide acts on the blood vessels by relaxing the smooth muscle cells causing the blood pressure to lower.
To boost your watermelon intake you can add it to salads, smoothies, juices and cold soups or simply just eat it.
According to one study, a daily serving of kiwi can help to reduce blood pressure in people with mildly elevated levels of blood pressure.
Researchers compared the effects of apples and kiwis on people with slightly high blood pressure.
They found eating three kiwis a day for 8 weeks caused a significant reduction in both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Researchers believe that the bio-active substances in kiwis caused the reduction in blood pressure.
Kiwis are also rich in vitamin C. Research by John Hopkins University shows that vitamins C taken daily in doses of 500 mg for about 8 weeks significantly improve blood pressure readings in those taking 500mg daily.
Add Kiwis to salads, smoothies and juices or eat raw as a snack.
Potassium is a key mineral which the body needs to function properly. It helps to lower blood pressure by counter balancing the damaging effects of too much salt. The kidneys help to control blood pressure by regulating the amount of fluid stored in the body. The more fluid in the body, the higher the blood pressure. Potassium reduces the effects of sodium which increases the level of fluid in the body and alleviates pressure on the walls of blood vessels.
Adults should aim to consume 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium daily and no more than 6g of salt.
Plant-sources rich in potassium include:
Too much potassium for people with kidney disease can be harmful. If you feel you may have kidney disease consult your doctor.
Research has shown drinking beetroot juice can reduce blood pressure levels. In a research study carried out in 2015, people who drank at least one cup of beetroot juice every day for 4 weeks showed a reduction in blood pressure. The researchers noticed some positive effects within 24 hours. For some this meant reducing their blood pressure within the normal range.
The researchers suggested that beetroot's high levels of inorganic nitrate caused the reduction in blood pressure and reduced blood pressure to a lower rate than those on medication alone.
Drink a glass of beetroot juice add to salads, or oven roast with other root vegetables.
Oats and Barley
Oats contain beta-glucan, which is a fibre and is said to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Beta-glucan may also lower blood pressure, according to some research.
A review of 28 trials showed a higher consumption of beta-glucan fibre can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Barley also contains Beta-glucan.
Start the day off with a bowl of porridge oats, or add to recipes instead of breadcrumbs. Don’t forget flapjacks are a great way to eat oats.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach are rich in nitrates, which help to manage blood pressure. Research has suggested eating 1–2 servings of nitrate-rich vegetables every day can reduce high blood pressure for up to 24 hours.
Examples of leafy greens include:
The complete leafy greens cookbook is packed solid with recipes and shows you how to include greens in your diet. If you are less fond of that idea you might want to try juicing or smoothie making as both add the benefits of eating greens to your diet. Whilst Juicing removes the fibre from the drink smoothies retain the fibre making them a better option as they help to increase the amount of fibre in your diet.
You can purchase a masticating juicer which is better than your standard juicer as it squeezes the juice out of the food rather than spins the juice out at a high, heated speed. If you’re not a juicing fan but like smoothies you can purchase a Nutribullet which is a middle of the road smoothie maker/blender.
Lentils and other pulses
Lentils are not only a staple of many diets around the world but are a staple for a vegan diet. They are an excellent source of vegan protein and fibre and can be added to most dishes.
Researchers studied the effects of a diet rich in pulses, their findings showed that diets rich in pulses led to a decreased level of blood pressure and cholesterol in the blood.
You can add lentils to almost anything as they are very versatile. You don’t have to use them as an alternative to minced beef or to add to salads, stews, and soups but you can also make mashed potatoes, curries and sauces with them.
Dahl is one of my favourite recipes for lentils and there are so many recipes for it that you never get bored. Try taking some inspiration from the recipe book: The delicious book of dhal: Comforting vegan and vegetarian recipes made with lentils, peas and beans.
Things to avoid
While some foods may relieve high blood pressure, others can cause a significant increase in blood pressure. People can reduce their blood pressure by avoiding Salt, Caffeine, Alcohol and by giving up smoking. If you feel it is a tall order to give up salt, caffeine and alcohol try cutting down.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and can significantly improve your health overall. By making lifestyle changes such as exercising daily, cutting down on alcohol, stopping smoking and eating a balanced diet rich in plants you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your overall risk of heart disease.
Foods which can lower your blood pressure include fruits, vegetables, oats, nuts, lentils, herbs, and spices. Reduce your amount of salt and drink plenty of water. You should be aiming for between 1.25 and 3 litres of water daily depending on your size and weight to aid toxins and waste to pass through your body.
As stated earlier in the article high blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it can go unnoticed for years. If you feel you may be at risk of high blood pressure consult your Doctor. It may also be best practice to buy your own blood pressure monitor and keep a check on your own health so you can alter your lifestyle to make needed changes.
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