High blood pressure is not a particularly good thing to have. There aren’t any symptoms for having it, but it increases the risk the risk of heart disease. stroke, heart failure and kidney disease. In Australia alone, 34% of adults have high blood pressure (140/90 millimetres of mercury – mmHg – or more), or take medication for it. Within that, a huge four million people aren’t treating high blood pressure.
However, there is some good news. If you’re worried about high blood pressure, here are a few things you can include in your diet without reverting to the meds.
A study which included five research trials tested the impact of oats on systolic blood pressure on 400 healthy adults. The researchers found that systolic blood pressure was 2.7 mmHg lower and diastolic blood pressure was 1.5 mmHg lower when participants ate around 60 grams of rolled oats or 25 grams of oat bran per day.
The recommended minimum daily fibre intakes are 30g for men, and 25g for women. For each extra singular gram of total daily fibre, there was an extra 0.11 mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure. Soluble fibres produce bioactive products while they’re in the large bowel. This is what lowers blood pressure.
Beetroot is loaded with a compound called inorganic nitrate. This is converted into nitric oxide during digestion, which causes arteries to dilate, in turn directly lowering pressure in them. 16 trials in mostly healthy young men found that drinking beetroot juice resulted in a 4.4 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure. Another recent trial in 68 adults with already high blood pressure found that beetroot juice reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Potatoes seem to be a bit of an underlooked wonderfood, huh? They’re high in potassium and magnesium which are two minerals that can help lower blood pressure. According to the US Department of Agriculture, one medium baked potato with skin has just 170 calories but 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. It also (surprisingly) has 35% of your daily recommended vitamin C and 10% of your iron.