Living with high blood pressure It is a reality for more than 4 million Spanish adults. Which can lead to cardiovascular risks if not controlled. Even more so if it is accompanied by other dangerous processes such as high cholesterol or diabetes.

There’s a lot ways to control blood pressure and one of the most important steps to take is to adopt a heart-healthy diet.

Know what this problem entails, what levels you should maintain and what are some of the best foods you can eat to lower blood pressureas well as foods to avoid.

Normal blood pressure: what you should know

Normal blood pressure, for most adults, refers to a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80. The first measurement refers to the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The second, diastolic blood pressure, refers to the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts against the walls of the arteries when the heart pumps it. It is important to keep it in a normal range for adequate blood flow to body organs and tissues.

Blood pressure depends on many factors, such as the amount of blood the heart is pumping or the diameter of the arteries. The pressure is usually higher when more blood is pumped and the arterial diameter is reduced.

High blood pressure is considered a constant reading of 140 out of 90, which in the long term could damage important organs, such as the brain and kidneys, or contribute to the risk of heart disease. It is related to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and kidney failure.

Low blood pressure is that blood pressure less than 90 over 60, characterized by blurred vision, fainting, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or dizziness and lightheadedness. Low blood pressure deprives the body of oxygen, which can damage organs.

Who is at risk

The probability of having high blood pressure increases with age. Before age 55, men are more likely to have it, while women are more likely to have it after menopause, according to the US National Institutes of Health.

Some medical conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, kidney disease, and thyroid problems They can cause high blood pressure. It can be hereditary in the case of some families, reports the US Institute on Aging.

Typically, high blood pressure does not manifest itself with any signs or symptoms. Sometimes it is noticeable with signs: the most classic is a headache, usually accompanied by dizziness. So measuring it frequently helps to detect if levels are rising.

Foods to lower blood pressure

Following a high sodium diet is one of the reasons that can cause tension to skyrocket.

“Extra sodium in the bloodstream can draw water into the blood vessels, which increases the total volume of blood within them and causes blood pressure to rise,” explains Lori Mosca, director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. .

But carry a balanced diet rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium can help control blood pressure. In fact, a 2013 review found that adding potassium to high-sodium diets substantially lowers blood pressure in hypertensive patients.

While all nutrients are important, Mosca notes that Potassium is vital for controlling blood pressure because it decreases the effects of sodium—the more potassium you eat, the more sodium you will lose through urine.

Additionally, a high intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium can relieve tension on blood vessel walls, helping to lower blood pressure.

Some examples of heart healthy foods Rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium include:

  • Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach
  • Fruits such as bananas, watermelons, apricots, and berries
  • Seeds, nuts and legumes
  • Avocados and tofu
  • low fat yogurt
  • Sweet potato
  • Some fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel that are high in omega-3 fatty acids

However, for certain patients, especially those with kidney disease, Mosca indicates that too much potassium can be harmful if your kidneys cannot eliminate it properly.

That is why it is important to talk to your doctor to carry out the Appropriate dietary changes to reduce blood pressure.

The DASH Diet May Lower Blood Pressure

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a healthy eating plan intended to help reduce blood pressure without medication. It is usually prescribed for people with hypertension but can also be followed as a general healthy diet.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the diet is low in salt, saturated or trans fats, added sugars, fatty meats and alcohol, and prioritizes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products , skinless fish and poultry as sources of lean protein, nuts and legumes, and vegetable oils.

Although you can eat foods from all groups, it is recommended to reduce sodium and focus on those high in potassium, calcium and magnesium. The guidelines include:

  • Limit sodium in your diet to 2,300 milligrams per day (go down to 1,500 milligrams per day)
  • Incorporate lots of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Eat legumes, seeds and whole grains
  • Include low-fat and low-fat dairy products
  • Eat fish, poultry and lean meats.
  • Reduce your intake of salt, sugar, red meat, processed foods, saturated fats, trans fats and alcoholic beverages.

Foods to avoid if you have high blood pressure

If you live with high blood pressure, Mosca points out that, in addition to limiting your sodium intake, you should minimize sweets, sugary drinks and red meat to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.

The AHA also recommends reducing saturated and trans fats. In general, try to limit your consumption of highly processed or already prepared foods. And be careful with foods that add salt to your diet, including:

  • Pizza
  • Sachet soup or other ready-to-eat products
  • Sausages
  • Frozen food
  • Salty snacks
  • Condiments such as ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and barbecue sauce
  • Some cheeses, seafood and olives.

Changing your eating habits is one of the best ways to control your blood pressure levels and start lowering them. Focus on foods high in minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These include many whole fruits and vegetables that you can also add to a stir-fry, salad, or stew.

On the other hand, it is important to avoid processed and ready-to-eat foods that are loaded with sodium, such as cold cuts, frozen pizza, and condiments. Combine one healthy diet with regular exercise and you should see an improvement in blood pressure levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can reduce high blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg.