Dealing with our daily stressors definitely tends to raise our blood pressure, from tackling traffic to running the kids around. Luckily these things only raise our blood pressure temporarily. However, there are people who suffer from chronically raised blood pressure, whether they are aware of it or not (best to get yourself checked out). Usually we start with changes in lifestyle to try and lower our blood pressure, but medication may be necessary. In this article we take a look at foods that can influence our blood pressure.
FOODS AND NUTRIENTS THAT CAN INCREASE BLOOD PRESSURE
Various foods may raise or lower your blood pressure, and some may have a neutral effect altogether. Perhaps it is pertinent to start with what we should be avoiding.
|FOOD / NUTRIENT||COMMENTS|
|High salt intake 1,2||Most of us are aware that salt may increase our blood pressure. On average, there is an increase in blood pressure as salt intake rises. It is recommended that individuals select foods that are lower in salt, as well as limit the amount of salt that is added to food1,2. If you think that this will lead to bland food – think again! There is a variety of herbs and spices you can use to flavour your food, so get creative.|
|Red / processed meats3||A large review of studies found that red/processed meats tend to increase the risk of chronic disease, including high blood pressure3.|
|Certain carbohydrate forms1
||There is evidence to suggest that both the amount and type of carbohydrate intake can affect blood pressure1, where highly refined carbohydrates are likely to contribute to its elevation. So keep your sweet tooth in check!|
|Excessive alcohol consumption 1
||It has been shown that there is a dose-dependent relationship between blood pressure and alcohol intake, especially when the intake of alcohol exceeds 2 drinks per day1. The intake of alcohol should be limited to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. A unit of alcohol is defined as:
Note: This isn’t an allowance of units that can be saved for the weekend!
||For all the coffee lovers! In individuals with high blood pressure, caffeine intake results in an acute rise in blood pressure for 3 hours or more. However, this is not to say that coffee consumption leads to a longer-term increase in blood pressure, or to an increased risk of heart disease4. Whew!|
FOODS AND NUTRIENTS THAT CAN LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Luckily the list of foods we should be avoiding is quite short, where the list of foods that can help lower blood pressure gives us a variety to choose from.
|FOOD / NUTRIENT||COMMENTS|
|Plant foods 3||A large review of many studies has shown that plant food groups are more protective than animal food groups against chronic diseases that are related to diet, such as high blood pressure3. Interestingly it was also found that grain products are more protective than fruits and vegetables within plant food groups!|
|Increased intake of Potassium1||A reduction in blood pressure has been associated with a high Potassium intake. It is advised to achieve a high Potassium intake through food, as opposed to pills, as this will be accompanied by various other beneficial nutrients1. Great dietary sources of Potassium include avocado, banana, spinach and sweet potato.|
|Fish oil supplements1
||Some studies have shown that high doses (3g/day) of fish oil supplements can lower blood pressure, in individuals with high blood pressure. However in people with normal blood pressure, the effects appear to be nonsignificant1.|
||There is some evidence that shows that a high fibre intake may reduce blood pressure, but overall it is insufficient to recommend that this alone as a means to decrease blood pressure1. Luckily we get a lot of our fibre from fruit and veg, so we would be getting our potassium at the same time.|
|Monounsaturated fats 1
||Partially substituting carbohydrates with monounsaturated fat has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce risk for heart disease1,5.|
||Replacement of carbohydrate with protein from plant sources is associated with lower blood pressure1.|
|Low-fat dairy products6
||Consuming low-fat dairy foods can decrease blood pressure, fluid products (e.g. milk and yoghurt) produce the greatest effect compared to cheese products. The beneficial effects seen in dairy products is likely due to calcium, magnesium and potassium content, as well as vitamin D found in fortified dairy products6.|
||A small study has shown that including small amounts of dark chocolate that is rich in polyphenols as part of a usual diet for individuals with high blood pressure reduces blood pressure and improves the formation of nitric oxide and dilates blood vessels7. Yay for (dark) chocolate!|
||A review of studies has found that pomegranate juice is effective for lowering blood pressure in those who have high blood pressure. This is likely due to the effect that the polyphenols have on the functioning of the blood vessels8.|
So there you have it! Now you know what foods/nutrients to include or avoid to lower your blood pressure.
- Dietary Approaches to Prevent and Treat Hypertension: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Lawrence J. Appel, Michael W. Brands, Stephen R. Daniels, Njeri Karanja, Patricia J. Elmer and Frank M. Sacks. s.l. : Hypertension, 2006, Vol. 47.
- EFFECTS ON BLOOD PRESSURE OF REDUCED DIETARY SODIUM AND THE DIETARY APPROACHES TO STOP HYPERTENSION (DASH) DIET. Frank M Sacks, Laura P Svetkey, William M Vollmer, Lawrence J Appel, George A bray, David Harsha, Eva Obarzanek, Paul R Conlin, Edgar R Miller, Denise G Simmons-Morton, Njeri Karanja and Pao-Hwa Lin. 1, s.l. : The New England Journal of Medicine, 2001, Vol. 344.
- Associations between food and beverage groups and major diet-related chronic diseases: an exhaustive review of pooled/meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Boirie, Anthony Fardet and Yves. 12, s.l. : Nutrition Reviews, 2014, Vol. 72.
- The effect of coffee on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in hypertensive individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arthur Eumann Mesas, Luz M Leon-Mun˜oz, Fernando Rodriguez-Artalejo, and Esther Lopez-Garcia. s.l. : American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011. 10.3945/ajcn.111.016667.
- Effects of Protein, Monounsaturated Fat, and Carbohydrate Intake on Blood Pressure and Serum Lipids: Results of the OmniHeart Randomized Trial. Lawrence J. Appel, Frank M. Sacks, Vincent J. Carey, Eva Obarzanek, Janis F. Swain, Edgar R. Miller III, Paul R. Conlin, Thomas P. Erlinger, Bernard A. Rosner, Nancy M. Laranjo, Jeanne Charleston, Phyllis McCarron and Louise M. Bishop. 19, s.l. : JAMA, 2005, Vol. 204.
- A systematic review and meta-analysis of elevated blood pressure and consumption of dairy foods. RA Ralston, JH Lee, H Truby, CE Palermo and KZ Walker. s.l. : Journal of Human Hypertension, 2012, Vol. 26.
- Effects of Low Habitual Cocoa Intake on Blood Pressure and Bioactive Nitric Oxide: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Dirk Taubert, Renate Roesen, Clara Lehmann, Norma Jung and Edgar Scho¨ mig. 1, s.l. : Journal of the American Medical Association, 2007, Vol. 298.
- [Online] http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Meta-analysis-supports-pomegranate-juice-s-blood-pressure-benefits?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=13-Jan-2017&c=E0wZmSvXA1A4MBsjNsqKnrACKlZ9vVCM&p2=.
- Relation of iron and red meat intake to blood pressure: cross sectional epidemiological study. Ioanna Tzoulaki, Ian J Brown, Queenie Chan, Linda Van Horn, Hirotsugu Ueshima, Liancheng Zhao, Jeremiah Stamler and Paul Elliott. s.l. : BMJ, 2008, Vol. 337. doi:10.1136/bmj.a258.