Still questioning why go plant-based for Veganuary? Don't worry, we have you covered! We will inundate you until you just can't say no to plants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. ;)
Last week we mentioned why plant-based eating is key for diabetes prevention and blood sugar control. Today, let's chat about blood pressure.
Here are 10 plant-based foods that have been shown to help to lower blood pressure:
- Beets-Beets contain more dietary nitrate than other vegetables, making them a potent vasodilator. In fact, beetroot juice contains 10 times more nitrates than any other vegetable juice. The dietary substance, nitrate is converted into nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide is responsible for dilating blood vessels, thereby improving circulation and possibly lowering blood pressure. You've also probably heard about athletes downing beet juice shots pre-competition or during work outs to help improve oxygenation, endurance and overall performance.
- Nuts-There have been various studies looking at nut consumption and blood pressure, specifically almonds, walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts. Nuts contain various nutrients that may help to lower blood pressure including mono and polyunsaturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as magnesium and potassium, which both help to dilate blood vessels and keep blood pressure regulated.
- Cacao-Cacao or cocoa contains flavonoids, which provide many cardiovascular benefits including lower blood pressure, lower LDL cholesterol and improved circulation. The flavonoids, epicatechin and catechin, in cocoa also help to promote nitric oxide production within the body. Our recommendation? Eat dark chocolate daily.
- Sesame Seed Oil-Who knew, right? Sesame seed oil contains two antioxidants, sesamol and sesamin, which also stimulate nitric oxide production, resulting in dilation of blood vessels and improved circulation.
- Flaxseed-These versatile seeds contain several nutrients that may help to lower blood pressure. They are choc-full of fiber, which has shown to prevent many diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, and colon cancer. They are also high in the omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which have been shown to help with vasodilation. Flaxseeds are high in the amino acid, Arginine, which aids in nitric oxide production. Finally, flaxseeds are high in lignins, which have been show to help lower blood pressure. It's easy to add 1-2 tablespoons of flax daily to cereals, oatmeal, smoothies and salads.
- Hibiscus Tea-Hibiscus flowers contains many phytonutrients that may help with blood pressure, including anthocyanins and catechins, which are extracted from the plant for medicinal use in fighting hypertension and high cholesterol. Hibiscus flowers have even been studied along side synthetic blood and was found to be even more effective in the treatment of hypertension! The compounds in the flower can decrease the thickness of the blood, dilate blood vessels and also promote diuresis. For this reason, people on diuretics should use caution when drinking Hibiscus tea.
- Green Tea-Also super high in epicatechins, specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a potent phyonutrient shown to improve blood pressure regulation. The most improved blood pressure response was when hypertensive patients drank 5-6 cups of green tea daily. Can't consume that much? One cup of green tea daily still delivers power-packed phytonutrients.
- Garlic-The substance S-allylcysteine is responsible for garlic's potent anti-hypertensive effects by helping to promote nitric oxide production within the body . Studies looked at garlic extract, whole garlic, garlic oil, and garlic powder. Garlic extract seemed to provide the greatest benefit. However, adding whole garlic to meals still offers many health benefits.
- Soy-The isoflavones and phytochemicals in whole soy products (soy beans, fermented soy or miso, sprouted organic tofu) stimulate nitric oxide production and help to dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
- Berries-By now you know that berries are a great low calorie, nutrient-dense fruit option. But what in berries is so powerful? Many nutrients may be responsible for the disease fighting action of berries including vitamin C, potassium, anthocyanins, fiber, and more. One study showed that by consuming just 1/2 cup of blueberries a week can reduce blood pressure by 10%. That's a pretty big punch for not a lot of berries. Eat your berries!