Blood pressure refers to the pressure of blood against your artery walls. When a health professional takes your blood pressure, you will see two numbers. The top number is called the systolic, and the bottom number is the diastolic. If the systolic number is 140 or over, and the bottom is 90 or more, you have high blood pressure. While most people turn to prescription medicines to lower their blood pressure, others choose to first look into their diets, or do a blend of both. In combating the negative effects of hypertension, fruits are in the forefront of the fight. It is the high potassium content of fruits that aids in lowering blood pressure, which in turn, reduces the risk of heart disease. By simply choosing the right blend of high potassium fruits, you can help to improve the overall health of your circulatory system.
How Potassium In Fruit Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Potassium is a mineral found many fruits and vegetables. It is necessary for our health, and works on a cellular basis. Potassium is part of maintaining our electrolyte balance and does this by working together with sodium, calcium and magnesium. If you have ever noticed that your ankles get a little puffy, that is most likely, water retention caused by ingesting too much sodium. This water retention is responsible for increasing the blood volume, which then results in putting undue pressure on your artery walls. When this occurs, you have high blood pressure.
When your potassium levels are low and sodium high, your circulatory system must work harder, which increases the pressure on the artery walls. As you can see, it is imperative that a good balance between potassium and sodium is maintained. After understanding how too much salt in the diet can worsen your blood pressure, you can see why your doctor puts you on a low sodium diet.
The classic Western diet is loaded with high sodium foods, such as salty french fries, chips and soft drinks. So, it makes sense that the first step in managing your hypertension is to manage your diet. In this case, the addition of fruits high in potassium can work wonders to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance, which results in lower blood pressure.
Using Fruits in Your Diet to Combat High Blood Pressure
One of the most common dietary strategies used to manage hypertension is the DASH approach. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This dietary plan is laden with potassium rich fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, melons, tomatoes and bananas.
When following the DASH diet, it is recommended that a diet consisting of 8.5 servings of potassium rich fruits and vegetables can help in lowering blood pressure. Not only are you benefiting from a possible drop in high blood pressure by following the DASH dietary guidelines, but remember that fruits are laden with many essential nutrients necessary for your health. These nutrients include: Phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plenty of fiber. The fiber found in fruits and vegetables has been found to also assist in maintaining overall heart health and reduction of high blood pressure.
It is very easy to begin to add more fruits to your daily life. The most simple, easy to consume and direct approach is to simply blend your fruits to make smoothies. The following smoothie recipe is rich in potassium and fiber, two elements which are known to lower your high blood pressure:
Beginners Fruit Smoothie
- Banana: 400 mg Potassium
- Orange: 230 mg Potassium
- Cup Coconut Water: 600 mg Potassium
If you make the smoothie above using coconut water, your smoothie will average out to have over 1200 mg of potassium in one drink. If you wish to have the added benefit of fiber, then toss in a handful of high fiber cereal, and blend.
High Potassium Fruits
Bananas are a first choice for most individuals due to their taste, high potassium content and affordability. One medium sized banana has 422 mg of potassium to just 1 mg of sodium. This ratio alone makes it one of the best warriors in the war against high blood pressure.
Melons such as cantaloupe, watermelon and honey dew are favorites during the picnic season, and they also pack a powerful punch in battling hypertension. Not only is this fruit family high in potassium and low in sodium, but they are also high in carotenoids. Carotenoids found in melons have been found to help prevent both veins and arteries from hardening and narrowing. This means that blood flow is not constricted.
Citrus fruits are a delicious way to help manage your hypertension. They are high in potassium, vitamin C, phytonutrients, antioxidants and bioflavonoids. Citrus fruits are also known as an anti-inflammatory food. The bioflavonoids are a great help in controlling your cholesterol level as well as assist in the prevention of blood clots.
As can be seen, fruits offer an affordable way to maintain your hypertension. While adding fruits to your diet and lowering your overall sodium intake, it is also important to take note of other aspects of hypertension control. Remember to exercise sensibly, reduce your tummy flab, engage in only moderate alcohol consumption and quit or slow up on the smoking. When these steps are added to your DASH dietary guide, you will be well on your way to reducing your hypertension. Again, as with all things health wise, always check with your certified physician before engaging in this or any other self treatment.