If you suffer from high blood pressure, your body is forcing too much blood against your artery walls. This can cause damage to your heart, blood vessels and kidneys. It can also lead to serious health problems such as heart failure, stroke, coronary heart disease and kidney failure, states the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. However, you can naturally lower your blood pressure by eating certain foods.
Consuming garlic is one of the fastest ways to reduce your blood pressure. According to Gloria Benavides, Ph.D., and David Kraus, Ph.D., of Alabama-based UAB Health System, eating garlic not only lowers your blood pressure but also can protect you against cardiovascular disease. They state that the compounds from garlic interact with your red blood cells, which allow your blood vessels to relax and your pressure to naturally lower. In a study published in the July-August 1993 issue of the journal "Pharmacotherapy," F. McMahon and colleagues proved that garlic reduces blood pressure. In this study, participants who had severe hypertension were given a garlic solution of 2,400mg of garlic containing 1.3 percent allicin, an organosulfur compound found in garlic that has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. In less than five hours, the participants' sitting blood pressure fell 7/16 mm Hg and within five to 14 hours, all their diastolic pressures dropped significantly.
Ginger, the spicy root often used in Asian cooking, could also help lower blood pressure. According to M. Jan Ghayur and A. Gilani from The Aga Khan University Medical College in Pakistan and published in the January 2005 issue of the "Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology," ginger can reduce blood pressure by blocking the voltage-dependent calcium channels. MedlinePlus agrees that ginger does reduce high blood pressure, but individuals who take medication for their high blood pressure should use ginger with precaution because ginger might lower it too much or cause an irregular heartbeat.
Chocolate lovers can rejoice because consuming dark chocolate daily may lower high blood pressure. The flavanols in dark chocolate appear to activate nitric acid, which is a gas that allows the blood vessels to relax and widen, reports the Science Daily website. In a study published in the March 2010 issue of the "European Heart Journal," Dr. Brian Buijsse and colleagues from the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Germany found that participants who ate approximately 7.5g of dark chocolate a day had lower blood pressure and had a 39 percent less likely chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
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- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What Is High Blood Pressure?
- PubMed: Can Garlic Lower Blood Pressure?
- Science Daily: Chocolate Might Reduce Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Disease, Research Suggests
- PubMed: Ginger Lowers Blood Pressure Through Blockade of Voltage-Dependent Calcium Channels
- UAB Medicine: Eat Garlic, Lower Your Blood Pressure
- MedlinePlus: Ginger