Did you know that you may experience high blood pressure even without signs or symptoms?
Many adults, especially those who appear healthy, may already have elevated blood pressure levels and needs to undergo medical imaging. Some may not even know it until they get their blood pressure checked.
In some cases, doctors may prescribe diuretics or other medication for relaxing the blood vessels to treat high blood pressure.
Some individuals may even consider natural or alternative remedies as an option to help manage blood pressure in addition to lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.
Perhaps one of the most accessible ways to manage high blood pressure or reduce your risks is to start with changing your diet to a heart-healthy one. This article discusses high blood pressure and the benefits of eating food good for the heart.
What Occurs When You Have High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is characterized by the amount of blood pumped by your heart and the amount of blood flow resistance in your arteries. The more blood pumped and the narrower your arteries, the higher the blood pressure.
You may be experiencing high blood pressure (also called hypertension) for a long time and not have any symptoms. High blood pressure may cause serious health risks if you do not get yourself checked ahead of time.
While hypertension among adults may develop gradually with no identifiable cause, some underlying medical conditions can also lead to high blood pressure.
Some of these conditions include:
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney disease
- Adrenal or thyroid gland problems
- Congenital disorders in the blood vessels
Certain medicines, such as pain relievers, decongestants, birth control pills, and illegal drugs, like amphetamines or cocaine, may also cause hypertension.
Excess pressure on your artery walls can damage your blood vessels and other organs. Various health complications can develop when high blood pressure is not addressed.
Some of high blood pressure’s complications include the following:
- Stroke or heart attack
- Heart failure
- Vision loss
- Metabolic syndrome leading to heart disease or diabetes
What Makes a Heart-Healthy Diet?
Foods that are good for the heart are usually rich in fiber and come in various colors. Carrots, spinach, raspberries, and peas are examples of such foods.
Additionally, consider limiting white foods like rice, potatoes, or white bread.
A heart-healthy diet is composed of various foods such as:
- Fish and seafood
- Legumes and nuts
- Lean, unprocessed meats
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products
Also, consider foods with minimal added sugars, little or no salt, minimally processed foods, and limited or no alcohol.
Benefits of a Heart-Healthy Diet
Eating a heart-healthy meal provides the following benefits:
Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called “bad cholesterol,” is usually associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). By lowering the LDL levels, you may reduce your risk for CVD.
According to the American Heart Association, lowering LDL levels to 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is recommended for people with high-risk atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).
Raises Good Cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), referred to as “good cholesterol,” removes other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream. HDL takes this excess cholesterol to the liver, where it is broken down and removed from your body.
High HDL levels are often associated with a reduced risk for heart disease. The desirable HDL levels for men and women are 60 mg/dL or higher.
Aside from maintaining a heart-healthy diet, other activities like doing more physical activities or quitting smoking may help increase HDL.
Helps Manage Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight helps lower the risk for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Additionally, proper weight management may also reduce the risk of various types of cancer.
Suppose your weight is within the healthy range, and you are no more than 10 pounds over what you weighed when you were 21. In this case, focus on maintaining that weight through exercise and proper diet.
Lowers the Risk of Cancer
Eating a heart-healthy diet may lower your risk for cancer. This benefit, in turn, provides various positive side effects, such as:
- Improving heart health, increasing energy, and enhancing blood flow
- Lowering stress and, together with exercise, reducing anxiety and depression levels
- Reducing the chance of developing diabetes
- Helping build a stronger immune system through supplying the body with the right amount of vitamins and nutrients
- Helping you live a longer life
Eating healthy is one of the four ideal behaviors to ensure that you live longer. Other practices include regular physical activity, avoiding smoking, and refraining from excessive alcohol consumption.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that you are 65% less likely to die due to cardiovascular disease if you engage in all four behaviors.
Additionally, you are also 66% unlikely to have a cancer-related death when you practice these healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Some people may want a quick solution to their health and blood pressure issues. However, there seems to be no better substitute than eating healthy, maintaining an ideal weight, avoiding tobacco, and keeping an active lifestyle.
Consult your physician, dietician, or nutritionist for more information about blood pressure and how to prepare a balanced, heart-healthy diet.