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This article is brought to you by our friends at PaleoHacks!

Sure, you know that high blood pressure is something you should worry about, but what is it exactly? Quite simply, blood pressure is the total force of blood, which pushes against the walls of your arteries. A certain amount of pressure is needed, but if the pressure becomes too much, then you are likely to run into high blood pressure, or hypertension.

High blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for premature death. The Western diet and lifestyle have been linked to a large increase in an incidence of high blood pressure. On top of that, hunter-gatherer populations are almost entirely devoid of blood pressure issues, until they adopt the Western diet and lifestyle. [1] So, now that you know what it is, how do you fight it? Here are nine foods that naturally lower your blood pressure and help you live a healthier life.

8 Paleo Foods That Naturally Lower Your Blood Pressure

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1. Beet Greens

Though not well known to many, beet greens are one of the top foods to help combat blood pressure issues. [2] These greens are the leafy tops picked from the beetroot plant. Besides their positive impact on blood pressure, beet greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This includes vitamin K, vitamin A, copper, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Beet greens come from the same plant family as Swiss chard and mix well in salads. Eat up!

2. Salmon

Salmon is pretty much the best source of protein one can eat, but many do not realize that it is also highly beneficial for those who suffer from high blood pressure. This largely comes from the huge dose of omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught varieties. [3] Like all fish in a Paleo diet, it is important to purchase the highest quality available, as the nutritional profile of farm raised salmon is poor. Though it may cost a little bit more upfront, the long-term benefits of wild caught salmon far outweigh the short-term price difference. To easily incorporate salmon into your nutritional regimen, try cooking it with a nice buttery sauce for dinner, and serving it with a side salad and sweet potato.

3. Halibut

Similar to salmon in its benefits, halibut have a wide range of cardiovascular and blood pressure lowering nutrients. [5] Once again, the omega-3 fatty acids present in halibut provide the bulk of the benefits, but it is also loaded with magnesium, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid. Halibut also contains selenium, which is critical in fighting free radicals.

4. Plantains

If you like bananas, but want to keep your sugar intake low, you will want to load up on plantains. Think of these as a low sugar, higher starch brother of bananas. In addition, plantains are packed with blood pressure-lowering potassium, as well as fiber. [6] You can easily replace bananas with plantains in most recipes as well, making it easy to subtly lower your blood pressure (and sugar intake) over time.

5. Spinach

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Spinach is one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables, and it also helps in lowering your blood pressure. [7] In addition to having 10 times the required daily value of vitamin K, spinach boasts a large amount of vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, and copper. While not particularly appetizing at first, it is easy to adjust to the nutrient dense taste of spinach, by incorporating a little bit into every salad. Pretty soon, you may even find yourself adding this green delight to other healthy choices, like omelets.

6. Dark Chocolate

Definitely the most decadent of all Paleo foods, dark chocolate is also surprisingly loaded with many health benefits. [8] These benefits include over 10 grams of fiber, a large amount of iron, and an entire day’s worth of copper and magnesium. The blood pressure lowering effects of dark chocolate come from – you guessed it – the large amount of potassium contained within.

7. Pumpkin

Another overlooked treat, pumpkin is not only for pies and lattes. Unbeknownst to most, regular consumption of pumpkin can help with high blood pressure. Pumpkin also contains large amounts of fiber, vitamin A, tryptophan, and beta-carotene. Interestingly, the phytoestrogen content of pumpkin is what largely accounts for its blood pressure lowering effects. [9]

8. Parsnips

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Parsnips are a very overlooked vegetable, even amongst those who practice a healthy lifestyle. Closely linked to the carrot family, parsnips are chock full of dietary fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C. [10] Try combining parsnips into one of your daily salads, along with some of the other foods on this list, to maximize the blood pressure lowering effects.

Conclusion

When it comes to the high blood pressure epidemic, the Western diet is certainly largely to blame. [11] Too much salt and too little potassium combine for a health catastrophe. By contrast, a whole foods based approach (like a Paleo diet) will be much better for your overall health – including your blood pressure. But a Paleo approach certainly isn’t the only diet that will help you avoid high blood pressure. Any diet rich in whole foods – like a Mediterranean, vegan, vegetarian or another type of diet – will help you avoid the downsides of high blood pressure. When it comes to health, preventative steps – like a good diet – are much better solutions than taking prescription medications.

And remember, just because your diet is healthy, doesn’t mean it has to be tasteless. If you need some extra encouragement to get started on a healthier path, start with some fresh fruit and veggies! We are what we repeatedly do, so small habit changes can start to add up over time. Since another Western epidemic, diabetes, is also a risk factor for high blood pressure, one should also keep their sugar intake as low as possible.

Remember to be a little more active as well, since we have become a very sedentary society! These changes, along with meditation and mindfulness to reduce stress, will quickly help you find a healthier path. And once you incorporate these small changes into your daily routine, your health will soar!

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