So, a couple of weeks ago my dude found out he has high blood pressure. Since he found this out in the emergency room after a few weeks of high stress and poor diet, we kinda figured, no kidding. But it got me thinking: he’s only 28, and he’s already hearing about his blood pressure? He’s nowhere near the “Go on pharmaceuticals” stage of this process, so I rolled my sleeves up and dug around for info about how we could get this issue under control before it became a problem.
It matters – for those of you who, like me, didn’t know – because blood pressure is a measurement of how elastic (healthy) your arteries are, and too high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease. Ugh. No thank you, sir.
So here are 8 all-natural substances you need to keep that blood pressure at a healthy level, as well as where to find them.
- Potassium. This is usually the one most often mentioned when it comes to blood pressure-friendly diets (like DASH). Where can you find it? Bananas, cantaloupe, dried fruit (like prunes and raisins), honeydew melon, kidney beans, orange juice, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes are all rich sources of potassium.
- Flavanols. This shit helps your blood vessels maintain and expand elasticity. Where can you find it? Dark chocolate, baby. Go for 70% or higher cacao content.
- Phytochemicals. More specifically? The ones found in hibiscus tea, in particular, are effective at dropping blood pressure. Hibiscus is found in a number of teas: read the label, and grab one with the flower near the top of the ingredients list. Added bonus: deep breathing and relaxation, which can/should be a natural element of enjoying a good cup of tea, are other effective methods of dropping blood pressure.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Like you needed another reason to love these bad boys. You can find them in fatty, low-or-no-mercury fish like salmon, herring, sardines, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. Besides increasing elasticity in those arteries, it reduces “stickiness” in blood platelets, leaving them less likely to pile up and stroke out, and more likely to just slip on by.
- Fiber. This stuff helps lessen insulin resistance, which is good for your blood sugar levels and ultimately helps prevent hypertension, too. You can get great sources of fiber in most fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, too. Take your pick.
- Paprika & cayenne. I don’t know why this works, but everyone in the world says it does. I’m just happy for an excuse to throw paprika on my sweet potatoes and cayenne on my salmon.
- Ginger. Ginger has long been known to be a circulation improver, and it probably is this connection that associates it with reducing hypertension as well. Grate some ginger onto your cayenne salmon and enjoy the spicy bite of that blood pressure-friendly dish.
- Oxytocin. This shit combats the stress hormones that drive your blood pressure up in the first place, cutting the problem off at the root. How do you get it? Cuddling, spending time with close friends, and snuggling babies are all great ways. The key is to be around people you love; your body will naturally release this essential hormone.