Many of my patients have hypertension or high blood pressure. In America, if you are over the age of 20, you have almost a 1 in 2 chance of having high blood pressure given 46% of Americans have it. Some more interesting facts about hypertension.
• The number one risk for death worldwide is hypertension.
• It kills 9 million people worldwide annually.
• It increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, and aneurysms.
• It is second only to cigarettes for preventable causes of death.
• It is the second leading cause of kidney failure (34%), following diabetes.
• A systolic blood pressure (the top number) greater than 115 is thought to be the most critical determinant for death in the world today.
You may be wondering what precisely high blood pressure is? First of all, there are two numbers to consider: the top number is the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom is diastolic. The blood pressure measures the pressure exerted against the artery walls during a heart contraction (systole) and between beats when the heart is relaxed (diastole).
The categories of hypertension are essential to know as you will understand your high blood pressure severity.
|Category||Systolic Blood Pressure||Diastolic Blood Pressure|
|Stage 2||> or = 140||> 90|
Beyond medications, you may be wondering if there are ways to decrease your blood pressure. Luckily, you can do several things every day, but some of these lifestyle interventions are more potent than medications. Below you will see five things you can do today to decrease your blood pressure.
1. Eat high nitrate-containing foods that convert to nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator (expanding blood vessels’ opening) to decrease your blood pressure. It is also an additive effect, meaning the more and more extended you eat them, the more the benefit.
o Beets and beet greens
o Butter leaf lettuce
o Mesclun greens
o Swiss chard
o Oakleaf lettuce
2. Eat two tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily. In one study, hypertensive patients with starting systolic blood pressure more significant than 140 mmHg responded to flaxseed with an average decrease of 15 mmHg. The magnitude of this decrease is as good or better than many drugs. 1
3. Get moving. Regular aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure by 5-7 mmHg among those with hypertension decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease up to 20-30%. Similar to a drug, you can be “prescribed” an exercise prescription following the FITT principle:
Frequency: How often? For aerobic exercise, 5-7 days per week, augmented by resistance exercise 2-3 days per week and flexibility exercise 2-3 days per week.
Intensity: How hard? A moderate level of passion for aerobic exercise causes evident increases in heart rate and breathing. For example, it is not being able to complete a full sentence if attempting to speak.
Time: How long? At least 30-60 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise or 3 to 6, 10- minute sessions dispersed throughout the day.
Type: What kind? Any type of aerobic that will engage large muscle groups, hold your attention, and that you will enjoy so that you will continue. Examples include walking, swimming, hiking, biking, or dancing. For resistance training, using more muscles in compound movements will be more beneficial. Aim for 2-4 sets with 8-12 repetitions in each group.
4. Remove added salt from your diet. Sodium causes water retention, which in turn causes the blood pressure to rise. Sodium also causes arteries to stiffen, decreasing the blood flow. Instead of adding salt to a meal, try upping the variety and number of spices in your food. You may find a tasty new combo. It only takes about two weeks for you to stop craving salt, and your heart and arteries will thank you.
5. Drink one cup of hibiscus tea with each meal. This tart red tea has been found to decrease systolic blood pressure by as much as 6 points.2 Also, be sure to rinse your mouth after consuming it due to the acids possibly damaging your tooth enamel.
Finally, a word of caution. Lifestyle interventions can be potent. If you are currently taking blood pressure medications, you will want to monitor your blood pressure regularly and let your doctor know if you feel dizzy or suddenly tired. Blood pressure
consistently under 120/80 could indicate a need for medication reduction. (If you need a plant-based doctor check out http://plantbasedtelehealth.com)
When I read all of the science in preparation for this blog, I found myself being pulled towards the kitchen. So, I created this creamy flaxseed recipe just for you. I hope you enjoy it.
Blueberry Banana Flaxseed Bread
What you need:
4 TBS of ground flaxseed mixed with 6 TBS of warm water (allow to sit for at least 5 minutes) 1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup chickpea flour (can use all-purpose flour if you prefer)
1 tsp of baking soda
Four mashed overripe bananas
½ cup maple syrup
1 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
½ cup of pecan pieces
½ tsp cinnamon
What to do:
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. (whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, baking soda)
3. Mix the wet ingredients. (mashed bananas, maple syrup, apple sauce, vanilla) 4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until well mixed.
5. Then add in blueberries, pecans, cinnamon.
6. Cook for 50-60 minutes. It will be ready when you can stick a butter knife or toothpick into the bread, and it comes out clean.
7. Allow cooling 10-15 minutes before cutting or serving.
1. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.02094 Hypertension. 2013;62:1081–1089 2. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. J Nutr. 2010;140(2):298-303.