Heart Disease is still the leading cause of death in America, and since February is Heart Health month, it is a great time to focus on the health of your own heart. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is estimated to be responsible for millions of deaths every year worldwide. Are you about to become a statistic?
For most people, heart disease is avoidable. But remember, your choice of foods can greatly affect your health. Here are some foods that can help this condition as well as several foods that should absolutely be avoided to increase your heart’s health.
Top 4 Foods to Choose
You should try to eat a balanced array of fresh wholesome fruits and vegetables of all colors every day. The foods below will bring your blood pressure extra benefits!
1. Fish: Fish is the healthiest of all animal products, owing to its high protein and low fat content. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish, along with other nutrients, protect blood vessels from plaque, reduce inflammation, and prevent high blood pressure. Flaxseeds are also full of omega-3 fatty acids that protect your blood vessels from plaque.
2. Celery juice: A time-tested Chinese remedy for high blood pressure is celery juice, which can be made with a blender or a juicer. Two or three 8 oz glasses a day for a month can help prevent high blood pressure or help to restore it to normal levels. In addition, celery is known to prevent gout and other arthritic conditions. Studies have found that this stalk is packed with over a dozen anti-inflammatory agents, including apigenin, a cox2-inhibiting compound similar to some anti-inflammatory drugs. Who knew celery was more than just a garnish?
3. Olive oil: Olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood lipids and may also lower blood pressure. According to a recent study, "Olive oil intake is inversely associated with both systolic and diastolic blood pressure." Translation: consuming more olive oil is linked with lowered blood pressure. Use olive oil for cooking and on salads.
4. Cucumber: A natural diuretic, cucumber will help hydrate and lower the pressure in the arteries. Eat two fresh cucumbers every day for two weeks.
Also, Super Clarity is a blend of Chinese herbs that supports your circulatory system and heart health. This blend uses herbs such as ginkgo leaf and jujube seed to keep your heart robust and your cardiovascular system open, which in turn increases your mental abilities.
Top 4 Foods to Avoid — And What to Choose Instead
In general, for healthy blood pressure cut back on salt, caffeine, white flour, alcohol, deep-fried food, nicotine, preservatives, sugars, and artificial flavoring and coloring. Specifically, here are the main offenders to avoid:
1. Salt: Sodium has long been implicated in chronic ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. Additionally, recent studies have shown that increased salt intake is proportional to an increase in cancers of the stomach, esophagus, and bladder.
Swap for: Herbs and spices.
Your best choices are fennel, garlic, ginger, oregano, black pepper, basil and tarragon, all of which possess active ingredients that are beneficial for hypertension. Vinegar is another flavorful option.
2. Coffee: For people who don't consume caffeine on a regular basis, caffeine can cause a temporary and sharp rise in blood pressure. Exactly what causes this spike in blood pressure is uncertain, but can be caused by caffeine narrows blood vessels by blocking the effects of adenosine, a hormone that helps keep them widened. Caffeine may also stimulate the adrenal gland to release more cortisol and adrenaline, which causes your blood pressure to increase.
Swap for: Green tea
Green tea as a food that can help reverse some of the risk factors associated with heart disease, including high blood pressure and abnormal blood clotting. Much of the research on green tea has been conducted in Japan, where men and women drink a high daily intake of green tea, and also have one of the lowest incidences of heart disease in the world.
3. Refined Sugar: The average American consumes nearly 240 pounds of sugar per year. Most of the excess sugar ends up being stored as fat in your body, resulting in weight gain and elevating your risk of heart disease and cancer. Sugar makes blood pressure rise, especially in people who are overweight.
Swap for: Honey
Honey contains vitamins and minerals that are lacking in refined table sugar, making it much healthier for you. Instead of refined sweets, go for the natural delicious flavors of fresh fruits and berries.
4. Alcohol: Several studies have found that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Also, keep in mind that alcohol contains calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain — a risk factor for high blood pressure. Worse still, alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness and increase the side effects of some blood pressure medications.
Swap for: Non-alcoholic drinks
Filtered water with a lemon or lime is much better for your health in the long run.
High blood pressure is a condition with serious consequences; don't stop taking any prescribed medications and work with your physician before making drastic changes to your diet.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
--Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on Dr. Oz, the Doctors and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310-917-2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at firstname.lastname@example.org.