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Video: Foods to lower blood pressure

By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/15/2007 11:55:56 AM ET 2007-11-15T16:55:56

Optimal blood pressure is at or below 120/80 mm Hg.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor has probably already told you the basics. You can control blood pressure by getting to and maintaining a healthy weight; reducing your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) if it’s high; limiting the salt in your diet; exercising; and adding calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and potassium to your diet.

The following eight foods are among the best of the best when it comes to lowering your blood pressure.

Skim milk
Skim milk provides calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients that work as a team to help reduce blood pressure by about 3 to 10 percent. Although this doesn’t sound like much, it could add up to about 15 percent reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease.

Spinach, unsalted sunflower seeds, beans (black, white, navy, lima, pinto, kidney) Spinach, unsalted sunflower seeds and beans are all loaded with magnesium, a key ingredient for lowering and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. These foods also provide lots of potassium, a primary nutrient in the fight against high blood pressure (see below).

Baked white potato, banana, soybeans
These three foods provide ample potassium. Your blood levels of potassium and sodium are inextricably linked. When potassium is low, the body retains sodium (and too much sodium raises blood pressure). When potassium is high, the body gets rid of sodium. Eating potassium-rich foods is important for maintaining a healthy balance of both minerals and, by extension, for keeping blood pressure low.

Important note: Do not take potassium supplements unless specifically prescribed by your doctor. Too much potassium will upset the balance, and could have serious, even life-threatening consequences.

Dark chocolate
Hooray for dark chocolate!  Eating about 30 calories a day — that’s less than half an ounce of dark chocolate — was associated with a lowering of blood pressure without weight gain or other adverse effects, according to a study in the July 4, 2007, issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Joy Bauer is the author of “Food Cures.”  For more information on healthy eating, check out Joy’s Web site at www.joybauernutrition.com

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