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How to Lower Blood Pressure With Therapeutic Foods

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
May 14, 2020
August 17, 2023
5

Managing lifestyle is important to control hypertension. And while you could lower blood pressure with medications, there are also ways that nature can help! Following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet or Mediterranean diet to get more vitamins and minerals through fresh and healthy foods is key. Let’s review some key minerals to help you lower your blood pressure naturally.

The main tenets of the DASH diet are to eat plenty of healthy fruits, and vegetables high in potassium, eat foods low in fat, reduce sodium, and limit alcohol consumption. These are cornerstones to reduce hypertension. Here are the main minerals that the DASH diet focuses on.

Sodium

In general, people with high blood pressure should have between 1,500 milligrams (mg) to 2,400 mg sodium per day, and add foods high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium as food rather than supplements. 

Foods with more than 300 mg sodium per serving may not fit into your meal plan. You can find out how much sodium is in a food by reading the food label. Remember the amount listed is for one serving, which may be more or less than you eat.

So How Much Do You Need?

Typical diets should be around 2000 mg per day, this means that any given meal should contain no more than a total of 500-650 mg sodium.

The body is always trying to maintain a balance of minerals in the blood. When we don't get enough variety of minerals, our body holds on to the mineral in the diet that is in excess. That mineral is almost always sodium.

Do not salt food at the table; add very little when cooking. Restaurant foods can be very high in sodium. Let the person taking your order know that you are looking for low-salt or no salt choices. Many restaurants have special menus or will make food with less salt. 

Potassium 

The cells inside of our vessels (endothelial cells) produce nitric acid that relaxes the vessel. Potassium helps to dilate the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Potassium is in a wide array of foods from dairy to veggies, fruits, and beans. 

Potassium is important for helping relax the walls of the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure. Pomegranates, beets, potatoes, yams, avocados, and bananas are all great sources of potassium.

Try to get a variety from these tips:         

  • Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and at dinner. 
  • Add a serving of fruit to your meals or as a snack. 
  • Canned and dried fruits are easy to use, but check that they don't have added sugar. 
  • Drink low-fat or skim dairy products any time you would normally use full-fat or cream. 
  • Add more vegetables and dry beans to your diet. 
  • Snack on unsalted pretzels or nuts, raisins, low-fat and fat-free yogurt, frozen yogurt, unsalted plain popcorn with no butter, and raw vegetables instead of chips and sweets
Smoothies are a great way to get a wide variety of minerals all in one gulp.

Magnesium

Magnesium works alongside calcium and potassium to balance sodium in your body. A shortage of magnesium throws off the balance of sodium, potassium, and calcium which causes the blood vessels to constrict. Not enough magnesium in your body lowers potassium in the body. It is important to have enough magnesium to keep enough potassium in your bloodstream. If there is too little magnesium in your body, too much calcium enters the smooth muscle cells which cause the cells to contract and raise blood pressure. Magnesium promotes relaxation in the blood vessels. Magnesium acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps to soothe the endothelial cells.  

Magnesium helps regulate body systems, including blood pressure, blood sugar, and muscle and nerve function. Getting consistent amounts of magnesium-rich foods will help to balance blood pressure and reduce salt sensitivities.   

Want to add more magnesium to your diet? Try these handy tips:

  • Add spinach to your sandwiches and salads
  • Nuts and seeds are a very good source of magnesium.
  • Tofu is low calorie, a good source of magnesium and calcium that will help to improve your blood pressure.

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body stored in your bones and teeth. Calcium helps to contract and dilate your vessels to control your blood pressure. Dairy products have a protein that has a blood pressure lowering effect in hypertension. 

Calcium is important for healthy blood pressure because it helps blood vessels tighten and relax when they need to. It's crucial for healthy bones and the release of hormones we need for most body functions. We consume it naturally in dairy products and fish.

Need to get more of this mineral? 

  • Mix yogurt with seasonings to use as a dip for vegetables.
  • Add fruit or preserves to yogurt for a dip for fresh fruit.
  • Add yogurt to cereal or oatmeal
  • Use fat-free yogurt in place of water in baked goods and pancakes

You can lower your blood pressure by simply eating a few foods, low in sodium, rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium are ways to get your blood pressure lower. The more mineral variety you get, the better off your blood pressure will become.

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