Hypertension, or high blood pressure, puts millions of people around the world at risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other complicated diseases everyday. How exactly?
Begin with the understanding that a good blood pressure range is roughly 120/80 – the top ‘systolic’ pressure being the force at which your heart pumps blood through your body during contraction (a beat), and the bottom ‘diastolic’ pressure being the force at which your heart pumps blood through your body in between beats. Prehypertensive and hypertensive patients will see their blood pressure readings climb past that 120/80 mark and into dangerous territory upwards of 140/90, and even higher into the high 100s over low 100s.
High blood pressure places an unnatural amount of stress on the heart, arteries and blood vessels trying to keep the blood flow contained at such a high rate. Wear, tear, and damage to the cardiovascular system can increase chances of cholesterol plaque buildup, blood clots, tears, and worse.
While some pharmacological aids help to reduce and lower blood pressure, hypertension is almost completely preventable through smart and committed lifestyle choices – from your diet to your activity levels, smoking and drinking habits, stress, and more.
While a DASH diet (low in sodium and high in healthy fats, whole grains, veggies, and fruits) has been shown to assist in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients, there are a handful of key beverages that can play an important role as well. Don’t miss these top 5:
Low Fat Milk
Rich with calcium and Vitamin D, milk is a known dietary must for growing strong and healthy bones, but did you know drinking low-fat milk has been shown to lower high blood pressure by 3 to 10 points? From its bioactive peptides to even the trace amounts of potassium, phosphorous and magnesium it offers, low-fat milk is a smart addition to a diet aimed at lowering high blood pressure.
Tea made from the flowering hibiscus plant contains unique biochemical compounds, “bioactive phytochemicals” to be exact, which act similarly to antioxidants. Their critical ACE (angiotensin-converting-
While drinking pomegranate juice in moderation is recommended because of its high sugar content, experts have also recommended its consumption for helping lower blood pressure. Like hibiscus tea, pomegranate juice exhibits ACE inhibiting properties which help lower systolic blood pressure specifically overtime. The juice of the pomegranate fruit also contains health-boosting doses of vitamin A, C and E as well as calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, and folic acid.
The earthy, sweet and vibrant juice of the beetroot has been shown to effectively lower blood pressure within hours of drinking one or two glasses. Sound to good to be true? Specific compounds in the beetroot called nitrates actually convert into nitrites when consumed, and in the human body, nitrites help relax muscle tissues and boost blood circulation. Beetroot also generates appreciable amounts of potassium which aids in balancing out the negative effects salt has on blood pressure too.
Sweet and tart cranberry juice has been shown to help dilate blood vessels as well as tackle inflammation in the body. By widening blood vessels, cranberry juice makes it easier for blood to move through the body, thus lowering the force (pressure) at which blood is circulated. Cranberries are also excellent sources of Vitamin C, a nutrient crucial to the repair and protection of strong and healthy blood vessels.
The key to naturally lowering blood pressure is equipping your body with the vital nutrients and minerals it needs to help blood vessels relax, widen, and stay strong. Ramp up the blood pressure lowering benefits of these select beverages by adding them to smoothies with other heart-healthy foods like avocado, whole grain oats, dark leafy greens, flax seeds, spirulina, banana, and dark chocolate.