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8 Effective Home Remedies For High Blood Pressure

8 Effective Home Remedies For High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure a.k.a the “silent killer” has reached near epic proportions in the U.S.   This dangerous condition affects a whopping 30 percent of Americans and leads to 60,000 deaths annually. High blood pressure or hypertension, has earned the moniker “the silent killer” [1] as it typically has no symptoms until after it has done significant damage to the heart and arteries. In fact, almost 20 percent of Americans who have high blood pressure don’t even know they have it and are unaware that they are at risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and eye disease. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to be screened for it by a medical professional for it [2].

If you have been diagnosed or are predisposed to developing hypertension, there are a few things you can do to assist in managing or preventing this dreaded condition.

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1. Lose excess weight and pay attention to your waist line

This first home remedy for high blood pressure is widely known but very unpopular. However research shows that there is a direct correlation to one becoming overweight and an increase in blood pressure. [3] Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further elevates your blood pressure. Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure. When shedding the weight, experts suggest that you pay special attention to your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.

2. Exercise regularly

This next home remedy for high blood pressure seems to be the cure for everything. Exercise is hugely important in longevity and quality of life. Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury [4]. It’s important to consistently incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle, because once you become sedentary, your blood pressure can rise again. If blood pressure is only slightly high (prehypertension), exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can assist in maintaining lower pressure levels.

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3. Modify your salt intake

Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to be particularly salt (or sodium) sensitive. [5] However, there is no precise way to determine whether any one individual is sodium sensitive, so everyone should lower their sodium intake, says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, [6] a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. How much should we lower it? According to Dr. Obarzanek, to about 1,500 mg daily,  which is about half the average American intake (half a teaspoon of salt contains about 1,200 mg of sodium). Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.

4. Indulge in dark chocolate

This, by far, is my favorite home remedy for high blood pressure. Dark chocolate varieties contain flavanoids, which make blood vessels more elastic and lowers blood pressure. One particular study found that dark chocolate, the kind that contains at least 50 to 70 percent cocoa, lowered blood pressure in all participants, but most notably in those with hypertension. During the experiment, 18% of patients who ate it every day saw blood pressure decrease [7]. All it takes is half an ounce daily.

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5.  Reduce stress

Research is definitive when it comes to stress–chronic prolonged stress can kill you. Research shows that most chronic stress is generally, work related. Working more than 41 hours per week increases your risk of developing hypertension by 15%, according to a University of California, Irvine, study of 24,205 California residents. Putting in overtime makes it hard to exercise and eat healthy, says Haiou Yang, PhD, the lead researcher in the study [8]. It may be difficult to leave early or even on time every day in today’s tough economic times, but try to leave at a decent hour—so you can go to the gym or cook a healthy meal—as often as possible. Rest and relaxation also is a huge stress reducer. Be sure to take breaks during the day and try to take non-working vacations as often as possible. Breaks make you more productive which will help ease some of that work place tension.

6. Eat a healthy well balanced diet

Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and goes easy on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. When possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy and eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing and preparation.

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7. Use herbs and herbal supplements

Herbs combined with a healthy lifestyle are a natural way to help your body heal itself. If you are thinking of trying herbs for medical purposes, whether that means using the whole herb or a supplement, always consult a physician. Some herbs, especially in large quantities, may produce undesirable side effects or interfere with other medications [9]. Some herbs that are believed to assist with lowering blood pressure are:

  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Flaxseed
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Hawthorne
  • Celery Seed
  • Lavender

8. Go easy on the caffeine

Scientists have long debated the effects of caffeine on blood pressure. Some studies have shown no correlation between the two, but one study that came out of Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine consumption of 500 mg—roughly three 8-ounce cups of coffee—increased blood pressure by 4 mm Hg, and that effect lasted until bedtime. Caffeine can raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and magnify the effects of stress, says Jim Lane, PhD, an associate research professor at Duke and the lead author of the study. His study found that when you’re feeling stressed, your heart, beats faster and  pumps a lot more blood which raises your blood pressure. Adding caffeine to the mix exaggerates that effect. Researchers suggest switching to decaf drinks or going with tea [10].

Hypertension is a medical condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a licensed health care professional. Once diagnosed patients are often given medicine to help regulate their blood pressure and most often the doctor outlines a list of lifestyle changes the patient should make in order to assist in lowering blood pressure. In many cases, a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle can shorten the span of time requiring medication and may eliminate the need for it altogether.

Featured photo credit: Администрация Волгоградской области via commons.wikimedia.org

Reference

[1] http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=13118
[2] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofHighBloodPressure/How-High-Blood-Pressure-is-Diagnosed_UCM_301873_Article.jsp#.WDS7F9UrKUl
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072415/
[4] http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/safe-exercise-tips#1
[5] http://www.gbhealthwatch.com/Trait-Salt-Sensitivity.php
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3219218/
[7] http://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pressure.html
[8] http://www.ucirvinehealth.org/events/health-classes/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/
[9] http://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/herbs-to-lower#CelerySeed0
[10] http://www.prevention.com/health/sleep-energy/health-facts-about-caffeine

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Last Updated on July 28, 2020

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

1. Quinoa

GI: 53

Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

GI: 50

Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

3. Corn on the Cob

GI: 48

Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

4. Bananas

GI: 47

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Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

5. Bran Cereal

GI: 43

Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

6. Natural Muesli

GI: 40

Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

7. Apples

GI: 40

Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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8. Apricots

GI: 30

Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

9. Kidney Beans

GI: 29

Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

10. Barley

GI: 22

Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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11. Raw Nuts

GI: 20

Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

12. Carrots

GI: 16

Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

13. Greek Yogurt

GI: 12

Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

14. Hummus

GI: 6

When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

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Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

Reference

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