You may not be aware that what we eat (consume) can affect your blood pressure? A careful and mindful diet is very beneficial to keeping your blood pressure under control or "normal" even if you have never had an issue with blood pressure.
So why does the food we eat have any bearing on our blood pressure? When we eat, your body channels extra blood to your stomach and small intestine, while simultaneously blood vessels, remote of your digestive system contract and narrow and your heart beats harder and faster. These actions maintain and stabilise blood flow and pressure.
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle will equally help support a healthy blood pressure. In this article, I explain a little on how some foods affect our blood pressure both negatively and positively.
Keep and eye on the GI
What is GI?
"GI" stands for Glycemic index. Glycemic index, (very simply put)is an index (rating)number given to all foods containing carbohydrates which ranges from 1-100, and shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when it is consumed on its own. The higher the rating the faster it affects your blood sugar levels.
Eating foods that are low(er) on the GI index, are broken down much slower, keeping your body fulled for longer periods of time, and avoids high energy release and fast energy dips. You are also more likely to eat more of the following
• Vitamin A & C
• Complex Carbohydrates
• Polyunsaturated Fat
All of which can have a great influence on your blood pressure.
Sugar, being on the high end of the GI scale, can increase blood pressure due to the elevated uric acid, which in turn raises blood pressure, especially the more common table sugar and is recommended to remove or limit your daily intake.
A high fibre diet, has been proven effective in lowering blood pressure. Along with lowering your blood pressure this diet will also help you reduce your cholesterol levels and even promote weight loss.
Most people consume more salt than they are aware of due to "pre-salted" ready meals, including sauces in jars, soups, canned foods and more or maybe because some people are just used to automatically salting our food, unaware if it was salted when being cooked. Reducing your salt intake will also help lower your blood pressure (also when eating out).
There are however, some vegetables and spices that help control your blood pressure. Many of these are very common vegetables and spices so you may be helping your blood pressure and not even know it, such as onions, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic and celery.
Due to their raised levels of GABA (a compound that can help lower blood pressure), Onion essential oil and tomatoes are a great beneficiary to controlling blood pressure when eaten daily.
Broccoli is a densely packed vegetable, packed full of fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Potassium and magnesium help to relax the blood vessels and improves blood flow, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that has the ability to strengthen blood vessels and also retains nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels. A study has shown that a higher dietary intake of the amino acid glutamic acid found in vegetables such as broccoli, was linked to lowering blood pressure.
Garlic and celery would also be a great addition to your diet. As you've probably heard before, garlic is good for the heart, and eating just one clove of garlic a day has been proven to be beneficial.
If you have any questions or concerns about your blood pressure, reach out to your health care professional/GP. Taking care of your heart health is extremely important.