Diet tips to improve your blood pressure

What you eat impacts all areas of your health. Did you know there are several food-related things you should consider when thinking about your blood pressure? 

Sirisha Vadali, MD, a cardiologist and an independent member of the HonorHealth Medical Staff, discusses why certain foods impact your blood pressure and provides tips about what foods to consider to boost your diet.

The science behind diet and blood pressure

Sodium is a common culprit when it comes to high blood pressure. It’s commonly found in fast food, but also in red meat, processed foods, canned soups as well as cold cuts and cured meats. But did you know there are other foods at play that can cause increased sodium within your body?

Sugary foods and those that have high-fructose corn syrup (including fruit juices and energy drinks) can actually increase your salt absorption and impact your insulin levels. Alcohol can also contribute to fluid and sodium retention. These factors all play a role in high blood pressure.

“The best way to regulate your blood pressure is to ensure you have a potassium balance,” explains Dr. Vadali. “Sodium and potassium go hand-in-hand, so I recommend to my patients a diet full of fiber and potassium in order to maintain what we need to so that our kidneys can do their job and help keep us in balance.”

Don’t forget about caffeine! Blood pressure is affected within 30 minutes of having caffeine and can last in your system for more than four hours.

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Boosting your diet

With this information in mind, these are four easy ways you can look to make your diet more heart-healthy:

  1. Increase your fiber intake. Some good options include avocados, apples, sweet potatoes, broccoli and leafy greens. You should also consider a fiber supplement. “Fiber makes you snack less,” says Dr. Vadali. “It actually helps with gut absorption of minerals, and it really is a great supplement for anyone to consider.”
  2. Eat more potassium-rich foods. Healthy foods to consider include bananas, oranges, cantaloupes, honeydew melon, apricots and grapefruit.
  3. Consider a Mediterranean diet. This diet is high in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, while limiting red meat and foods with added sugar. “If you adopt more of a Mediterranean diet with high potassium, that will actually help you lower your blood pressure,” shares Dr. Vadali.
  4. Limit caffeine. If you have high blood pressure, keep your caffeine intake to about 200 milligrams a day. For those who don’t currently have high blood pressure issues, you should limit yourself to about 400 milligrams a day.

Everyone, not just those who have high blood pressure, can benefit from these diet tips.

“Even if you don’t currently have high blood pressure, I recommend starting a fiber supplement and then look at being very disciplined with your diet Monday through Thursday each week,” explains Dr. Vadali. “Then, if you’d like to splurge a little bit on the weekends, you’re able to have your rewards so the diet doesn’t feel so restrictive.”

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