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Since childhood, I’ve spent my lift dealing with hypertension. It’s a burden that I’ve carried all my life, most due to bad eating habits. I hate taking medicine, but was forced to do so to lower my blood pressure. When I decided to make a change to eat better, I figured that it would be as easy as cutting out the unnecessary sodium and processed foods that I was consuming. Although these actions were helpful, they simply weren’t enough to constitute a truly heart healthy diet. Everything changed when I found the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. It is a diet focused around eating heart healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and foods rich in fiber.
These nutrients found in the foods listed in the DASH diet are essential to naturally lowering blood pressure. I found that the DASH diet, along with regular exercise and my prescribed medication, was the key to my success in achieving and maintaining a healthy heart.
Here is a list of 10 heart healthy foods to help you get your blood pressure back on track:
Low-fat or Fat-free Yogurt
Calcium is essential in fighting high blood pressure and can be found in most dairy products. Add a 12-ounce serving of low-fat or fat-free yogurt to your heart healthy diet. This will provide around 30 percent of your daily calcium intake needed.
Bananas make heart healthy snacks and are rich in potassium, with one banana providing around 9 percent of your daily potassium intake needed. Thanks to the natural sweetness in bananas, they make for a great sugar substitute in baked goods and smoothies.
Like bananas, leafy greens are a great source of potassium. Romaine lettuce, arugula, collard greens, spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, and kale are all excellent sources of potassium. Use heart healthy foods like leafy greens in salads, sandwiches and smoothies to help promote a healthy heart.
Aside from being delicious, avocados are a great source of potassium, calcium and magnesium. One avocado will provide about 25 percent of your daily potassium intake. Avocados are great in salads, sandwiches or by themselves for a tasty and heart healthy snack.
Chocolate and a healthy diet don’t necessarily fit into the same sentence, but studies found that flavonol-rich dark chocolate is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and assists with healthy blood vessel function. Just make sure not to overdo it with the chocolate and keep your consumption within the parameters of a healthy diet.
Although olive oil is high in calories, it boasts many health benefits. It has been found to assist in lowering blood pressure and makes an excellent heart healthy butter substitute when cooking or baking.
Pistachios help reduce blood vessel tightening and heart rate. They are a heart healthy snack and delicious in salads and trail mix. Please note that pistachios at the grocery store come in salted and unsalted varieties. Choose the unsalted option to avoid the unnecessary sodium.
Quinoa is known as a supergrain and is high in magnesium. In addition to being a heart healthy food, it can be used to fulfil hunger, stabilize blood pressure and relieve constipation thanks to its high fiber and plant-based protein. Use it as a base for delicious veggie burgers or add it to your salad for increased health benefits.
Fatty fish like salmon are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure by reducing inflammation. Salmon also contains vitamin D, which helps regulate blood pressure, wards off depression and assists in the absorption of calcium. Lightly season with salt, pepper and a little olive oil and broil in the oven for a heart healthy and delicious entrée.
Thanks to nitric oxide found in blueberries, they are excellent heart healthy foods to help lower blood pressure. Nitric oxide is a gas that assists with the increase of blood flow. Try blueberries in salads, smoothies and oatmeal to give your meal a heart healthy boost.