While there is no clear consensus on what the core causes of hypertension are, the medical community agrees on the mechanics of the disease. Often called the “Silent Killer” because it can cause a stroke or heart attack with no apparent symptoms, hypertension or high blood pressure has become a public health issue affecting one out of four adults.
And you know what? This killer is preventable and reversible.
Up until the late 90s Americans routinely turned to drugs to control the condition. However, drugs come with their own set of problems such as side effects and cost. A study performed in 1998 suggested that a diet rich in certain vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy products could prevent or reduce high blood pressure. This diet is known as Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension or DASH.
In one study in New York, a group of people with high blood pressure were placed on the DASH diet and told to do nothing else, like exercise, to try and lower their BP. In two weeks time virtually all of them had seen a reduction in blood pressure.
Here are some of the hero ingredients of that diet:
The Amazing Garlic
Not only useful for keeping vampires away, the garlic is a powerful vegetable with a one two punch. It acts as a vasodilator and can assist in opening the arteries which in turn reduces pressure. In addition it contains an antioxidant that attacks the free radicals that are destroying cells. Aside from hypertension, the garlic has been proven to help in the prevention of colon and stomach cancers as well.
Ironically, this powerful little fighter is the exception to the rule and is more potent as a supplement than it is raw or cooked.
The Top Banana
When there is an imbalance in our body between sodium and potassium the hypertension becomes more severe. Almost everyone knows that they should reduce their intake of sodium but this is a tricky thing.
Most people think that cutting salt intake means leaving the shaker on the table. However, all processed food and some “fresh” meat have sodium in them. The principal reason salt is added to processed food is to get a better flavor not because it is required by the actual processing. It shows up in food that we would not associate it with.
Can you imagine sitting down to your morning bowl of corn flakes and sprinkling a spoonful of salt on it? Of course not. But check out the ingredients on the cereal box and you’ll see that it contains 11% to 12% of your DRA for sodium per serving.
So it’s a tricky business controlling sodium but the bigger issue is the balance of sodium to potassium. If we don’t know how much sodium we are taking in, we can certainly add more potassium just by eating bananas. Three to six servings a day are recommended in the DASH.
If you’re not a banana fan, try watermelon, spinach, oranges or almonds; all good sources of potassium.
Fiberrific Fruits and Beans
Another typical shortage in the American diet is dietary fiber both soluble which helps blood pressure, and insoluble which helps in our digestive tract and can indirectly reduce strain on the vascular system. Fruits are super high in both types of fiber as well as legumes.
Go Fishing For Good Health
Probably the toughest part of the diet is the reduction of red meat and the increase of “oily” fish like salmon and mackerel. Tuna, probably the most popular, is unfortunately low on the fish oil that impacts cholesterol.
So diet can cure, or cause, hypertension. Understand you don’t have to change everything at once. You can “evolve” this diet into your family’s meals a little at a time and still see the benefits.