High blood pressure is one of the primary factors associated with cardiovascular disease, and as many as 67 million adults in the U.S. are quietly living with it. Most people don’t even know they have it until a doctor informs them. Even after that, many people don’t change their diets or lifestyles because when you have high blood pressure, nothing really feels different. Nothing seems immanent or serious, so what’s the problem?
The problem is that it isn’t until the high blood pressure escalates to a more severe condition, like heart disease or stroke, that people take notice. High blood pressure is like a sniper strategically waiting to fire from a rooftop—you don’t see it, but you know it’s only a matter of time before it strikes.
As we age, our risk of developing high blood pressure increases. Seniors are more likely to have high systolic blood pressure or low diastolic blood pressure, as well as increased orthostatic hypertension. That makes following a proper anti-aging diet to prevent blood pressure problems vital.
Some of the major known causes of high blood pressure include low potassium from not eating enough fruits and vegetables; high sodium intake from eating too much salty, processed foods; and excessive alcohol consumption. That’s why if you have high blood pressure, foods like processed meats, takeout and fast food, frozen dinners, soft drinks, instant soups, canned tomato sauces, and other processed dishes are like silent killers. Does this sound like your diet?
When it comes to lowering high blood pressure, medications are the easy way out; however, paying more attention to your anti-aging diet can make all the difference. A higher intake of healthier anti-aging foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can naturally help you put your health back in your own hands. This approach is known as the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet. The best part about the DASH diet is that you can combine many of the foods together to create a delicious meal that helps lower high blood pressure—the combination of spinach, cucumbers, avocado, beets, and sesame seeds actually make for a great salad. Here’s what each of these anti-aging foods do to help lower high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, this dark green vegetable is one of the best foods for your anti-aging diet because it contains many of the key nutrients your body needs to moderate your blood pressure, like folic acid, magnesium, and potassium. Plus, one cup of uncooked spinach only contains 15 calories and it’s also an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, carotenes, manganese, and vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B6, and B12.
Research has shown that the antioxidant properties of spinach help lower the risk of health issues caused by oxidative stress in the body, including high blood pressure. Researchers have also discovered that more spinach in your anti-aging diet can help lower high blood pressure because of several peptides (small pieces of protein) in it that inhibit a specific enzyme.
Cucumbers contain good amounts of dietary fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, and potassium, which are crucial nutrients to help lower high blood pressure. The folic acid in cucumbers also helps maintain your homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid found in the blood, and high levels of homocysteine can lead to various cardiovascular issues—having high levels of homocysteine and high blood pressure can be a dangerous combination.
Avocados are a good fruit to add to your anti-aging diet if you have high blood pressure because of the variety of heart-healthy nutrients in them, like dietary fiber, folic acid, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They’re also one of the best sources of potassium—half a medium-sized avocado has more potassium than one whole medium banana. Potassium is essential to lower high blood pressure because it balances the excess sodium in your diet. Cut small square pieces to enjoy avocado in a salad, or mash it to make a tasty guacamole dip or spread.
Beets are another good source of potassium, as well as folic acid. There have been studies showing that drinking a glass of beetroot juice every day can lower your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg. Beets contain naturally occurring nitrates that assist with nitric oxide in blood vessels, and nitric oxide regulates blood pressure by dilating your arteries and improving blood flow. Other nutrients found in beets include vitamins A, C, and B, along with carotenoids, calcium, copper, and iron.
The lignan phytonutrients in sesame seeds , sesamin and sesamolin, have been found to lower high blood pressure in animal studies. Sesame seeds also provide magnesium, and in humans, magnesium has been shown to have a positive effect on high blood pressure. Sesame oil can be just as effective as the seeds, especially when in combination with rice bran oil. As an alternative, sunflower seeds are also known to help lower blood pressure, containing vitamin E, bioactive peptides (proteins), fiber, and magnesium.
“8 Foods That Help Lower Blood Pressure,” JoyBauer.com; http://www.joybauer.com/high-blood-pressure/spinach-for-high-blood-pressure.aspx, last accessed January 21, 2014.
Brown-Riggs, C., “The 8 worst foods for high blood pressure,” The Grio web site, May 22, 2013; http://thegrio.com/2013/05/22/the-8-worst-foods-for-high-blood-pressure/.
Clark, J., “What is nitric oxide and how does it work?” Nutrition Express web site; http://www.nutritionexpress.com/showarticle.aspx?articleid=286, last accessed January 21, 2014.
LoGiudice, P., et al., “The Benefits of Beet Juice,” The Dr. Oz Show web site, May 14, 2013; http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/benefits-beet-juice.
Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007), 27, 286, 290, 298, 516, 518, 520.
Nelson, L., “High Blood Pressure,” HealthCentral web site, July 21, 2010; http://www.healthcentral.com/high-blood-pressure/c/42538/116387/lower/.
“The top foods and oils that lower blood pressure according to latest studies,” Examiner.com, September 19, 2012; http://www.examiner.com/article/the-top-foods-and-oils-that-lower-blood-pressure-according-to-latest-studies.
“What’s New and Beneficial About Spinach,” The World’s Healthiest Foods web site; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43, last accessed January 21, 2014.