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Fighting Hypertension:
Food Remedies for high blood pressure
by Anna Maria Volpi
The reason why sodium affects blood pressure is still debated, and some researchers think that many people are sensitive to sodium and can build up hypertension after an extended excess of sodium ingestion. How much sodium you need per day can be established only by your physician. Only 500 mg of sodium per day are indispensable in our diet, but sodium restricted diets can range from 1000 mg to 4000 mg depending on individual needs. Consider that 600 mg of sodium corresponds to 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt, and that one teaspoon of baking soda contains 1000 mg.

Reducing sodium intake is not easy and requires constant attention and a significant effort because sodium is present in food under many different forms. Sodium chloride is salt, used in cooking, at the table, in canning and in preserving. Table salt is 40% of its weight is sodium. Monosodium glutamate or MSG, is a seasoning used in bouillons, in restaurant cooking, and in many packaged foods. Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, (and similarly baking powder) is used as a leavener for breads and cakes, sometimes added to vegetables in cooking, and used against indigestion. Sodium nitrite is used in cured meats, salame, and sausages. Many sodium compounds such as sodium sulfite, sodium hydroxide, sodium propionate, etc. are used in industrially processed foods like cheese, breads, cakes, cereals, dried fruits, vegetables, chocolate milks, and ice cream.
Control your Sodium
Last but not least it is important to implement a low-salt diet, or we should say a low-sodium diet. Time and again, it has been demonstrated that sodium intake has a direct effect on blood pressure levels.
Plant foods are rich in vitamins, fibers, minerals, and potassium.
* Green leaf vegetables, rich in calcium and magnesium are especially beneficial.
* Whole grains and legumes have high fiber content to lower cholesterol.
* Broccoli and citrus fruit are rich in vitamin C.
* Celery is high in sodium but contains a natural compound by named phthalide with lowering blood pressure capability.
* Onion and garlic (also in the form of supplement) are very beneficial.
* Flaxseed oil, nuts, walnuts, in addition to
* Fish (salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel) are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

* Refrain from adding salt to homemade dishes. Add herbs and spices as flavor enhancements instead.
* Avoid cooking with bullions.
* And finally if you eat out, talk to the waiter and request for your food to be prepared without salt. Most restaurants will accommodate your needs.

All foods containing saturated fats, like animal products, animal fat, and margarine, are to be avoided.
Also avoid trans-fatty acids, sugar, and refined carbohydrates in processed foods.

Eat Your Broccoli
What’s good and what’s not. If you have high blood pressure, the first thing to do is to
* reduce excess alcohol,
* reduce caffeine, and
* quit smoking,
all habits with a very adverse effect.

To help lower blood pressure you can
* increase consumption of vegetables, better if organically grown.
Hypertension and Food
If you have high blood pressure, foods high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids are all very valuable.
Calcium appears to have a blood pressure-reducing effect. Foods high in calcium include milk, fresh cheese, yogurt, broccoli, cabbages, dry beans, salmon, soybeans, and tofu.
These web pages do NOT provide medical advice. The content displayed is designed to inform. Under no circumstance is it meant to replace the expert care and advice of a qualified physician. The information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a site visitor and his/her physician. Any proposed step should be discussed with an expert, your doctor or other medical practitioner before being taken. The material on this website was written to provide information only. The information is not designed to take the place of a doctor's instructions. Patients are urged to contact a doctor for specific information regarding guidelines for care. The authors disclaim any responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from the information presented on this website.
Potassium helps maintain blood pressure levels. Clinical studies have indicated that consuming food high in potassium helps lower blood pressure. Vegetables high in potassium are, among others, tomatoes, potatoes, cantaloupes, bananas, beets, Brussels sprouts, avocados, and oranges.
Magnesium relaxes blood vessels and allows the blood to flow easier. Foods high in magnesium are chocolate, avocados, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, and barley.
Vitamin C seems to expand blood vessels and constricted arteries, consequently helping to lower blood pressure. Red cabbages, red bell peppers, citrus fruits (mandarins, oranges, etc), kiwis, strawberries, and potatoes all are rich in vitamin C.
Omega-3 fatty acids present in fish, especially salmon, tuna fish and trout, help circulation. The presence of these good fats makes blood unlikely to clump and form clots that may cause heart attacks.
Flaxseed oil seems to inhibit the inflammation that causes artery plaque and poor circulation, thus helping against high blood pressure.
Garlic has been the subject of several clinical studies and its ability to drastically lower blood pressure has been demonstrated.

Important: It is imperative that you consult your doctor before implementing any changes in your lifestyle or your diet. You should definitely talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Some over-the-counter substances can be contraindicated for you, especially if taken when using prescription drugs. Also depriving yourself of certain substances or taking others in excess can cause serious health problems, so check with your physician first! This article is only for general information and cannot substitute for medical advice.

Anna Maria Volpi

© Anna Maria Volpi

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Food products can be labeled “low sodium” by the American Heart Association only if they have less than 141 mg of sodium per serving. When you buy prepackaged food, read the labels and look for sodium (symbol NA) and soda (baking soda or sodium bicarbonate). Go for products that give the least amount of sodium, but base your judgment on the amount you eat, not on the serving size indicated on the package. Consider that most “high-salt” foods like chips, ketchup, or salad dressing indicate an unrealistically small portion size to avoid scaring customers.

If you take any medications, check with your doctor and pharmacist because some drugs, like antacids, have high amounts of sodium. Choose fresh food over frozen or canned food. Stay away from salty foods like anchovies, bacon, bouillons, canned foods, cheese, cold cuts (prosciutto, salame, baloney, ham, sausages), condiments, cooking sauces, cottage cheese, croutons, cured meat, gravy, hot dogs, olives, pickles, potato chips, processed fish, salad dressings, salsa, salted nuts, snack foods, soy sauce, and tortilla chips.

Caution: A low-sodium diet if difficult to realize, but it is also possible to overdo it, with potential undesired consequences. For this reason, if symptoms of high blood pressure persist, don’t keep reducing your salt intake, but consult with your physician.