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Eat Your Way to Low Blood Pressure!

Dec 31, 2012

How would you like to lower your blood pressure and reduce your chance of stroke and heart attack...just by choosing the correct foods? Sounds good to me! Read on to discover how you can make some simple changes to your daily nutrition and fight the fight against high blood pressure.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension is defined as 140(systolic)/90(diastolic). Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure exterted against the artery wall when the heart is pumping. Diastolic pressure is the amount of pressure exerted on the artery walls between beats, when the heart is resting. When the pressure rises about 104/90, not only can the artery walls get damaged but the heart never really gets to rest. It always has to work to keep the blood pumping through the body.

Why food help or hurt...

A diet rich in potassium will affect a person's blood pressure in a positive manner. On the other hand, a diet rich in sodium can have negative affects. Potassium blunts the effects of sodium and is, therefore, important in the control of blood pressure. Potassium is necessary for water balance, transmission of nerve impulses, maintenance of heart beat, and muscle contraction. A dietary practice to lower blood pressure is to consume foods that are rich in potassium.

High sodium can trigger increased sodium retention, resulting in increased fluid volume and high blood pressure. It can also lead to increaed calcium excretion, kidney damage, atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis, left ventricular hypertrophy (growing of the heart muscle itself), increased incidence of gastric cancer, and increased risk of dementia.

So how much do you need?

The potassium to sodium ratio in a person's diet should be 3:1, meaning that sodium consumption should be limited to 2,300mg/day or less (much less if you tend to have higher blood pressure) and 4,700mg/day of potassium.

The science behind sodium and potassium...

The sodium-potassium pumps balance the water between the inside and outside of the cells. About two-thirds of body water is inside the cell and one-third is outside the cell wall. Potassium is the main electrolyte in the intracellular fluid and sodium is the main electrolyte in the extracellular fluid. Both a high sodium intake and a low potassium intake have been linked to HBP. If the sodium-potassium ratio is not balanced then the cells are not able to function like they should. This can lead to complications and can eventually lead to HBP. This means it is extremely important that a person gets the recommended 3:1 ratio of potassium to sodium.

Foods rich in potassium: coconut water, bananas, dark leafy greens, dried apricots, raisins, baked acorn squash, salmon, avocados and mushrooms

Foods rich in sodium: canned food, margarine, fast food, sauces and seasonings, processed snacks and baked goods, pickles, olives, canned anchovies, processed deli meats and cheeses, cereals and breads

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