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5 Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

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By    |   Thursday, 11 May 2017 02:53 PM

Cutting out salt is generally recommended as the way to lower blood pressure but eating foods rich in potassium helps as well, a top expert says.

“Potassium is the forgotten weapon in the fight against high blood pressure,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.

About 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, which hikes the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or developing kidney disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

“Potassium is a very important mineral for heart health, but its importance when it comes to regulating high blood pressure is often overlooked,” says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Potassium is a chemical (electrolyte) that is critical to the proper functioning of nerve and muscles cells, particularly heart muscle cells.

Researchers from the University of Southern California-Los Angeles reviewed more than 70 studies related to dietary approaches for high blood pressure regulation.          

When potassium intake is higher, the kidneys signal the body to reduce the amount of sodium that is retained, say the researchers.

When dietary potassium intake is elevated, the kidneys –containing millions of small tubes working together – shift fluid to the area near the end of the tubes where potassium is secreted, they note.

This shift reduces the amount of sodium and water that's reabsorbed into the body. In this way, high potassium diet signals the body to reduce the amount of sodium that is retained.

This circular pattern regulates the levels of both minerals in the body, which in turn also lowers blood pressure, the researchers say of their study, which is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism.

But people with kidney problems should first discuss this strategy with their doctor, especially if they are considering potassium supplements, notes Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report.

“You can increase potassium but you have to be careful, because too much can be dangerous for people with kidney disease, or whose kidneys aren’t working well,” says Crandall.

"People considering potassium supplements should undergo a kidney function test first,” he adds.

Also, boosting potassium shouldn’t be relied upon alone – salt restriction is still important, especially for people diagnosed with high blood pressure, says Crandall.

He also recommends taking magnesium, which is a mineral, for blood pressure reduction.

“Magnesium can also lower blood pressure. It’s a muscle relaxant, which can also be a powerful aid in blood pressure reduction,” he says.

Too often, doctors don’t discuss potassium or magnesium – they go straight to medication.

“Historically, it’s hard to get people to change their dietary patterns,” notes Crandall.

Many of the same foods that are high in potassium are also rich in magnesium, he notes.

Vicki Shanta Retelny, registered dietician and author of “Total Body Diet for Dummies,” suggests these ways to add these five potassium-rich foods to your diet:   

  • Avocados: Spread a ripe slice of avocado on toast, chop it into salads, or mash it into guacamole.
  • Potatoes: White and sweet potatoes are packed with potassium. Bake, mash, or roast them. You can also cook and chop them into salads, drop them into soups, or dice them into vegetables hash.
  • Spinach:  All veggies can boost potassium, but spinach packs an extra big punch, so don’t forget to use lots of this leafy green in salads. Add in other potassium-rich veggies as well, including tomatoes, cabbage, sprouts, and beans.
  • Banana: A banana makes a great base for a smoothie, or you can also dip it into chocolate and freeze for a sweet treat.
  • Pomegranate: Sprinkle pomegranate seeds into fruit or green salads, plain yogurt, or cooked oatmeal. For a pop, add them to peanut butter toast or roll them into date nut balls for a healthy snack.

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Most people think restricting salt is the only dietary way to lower blood pressure, but a top expert says that foods rich in potassium also helps.
Blood, pressure, heart, foods, potassium
Thursday, 11 May 2017 02:53 PM
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