WHAT IT IS: Hypertension means that you have high blood pressure.
YOU ARE AT INCREASED RISK IF YOU
• are a man over age thirty-five or a woman over age fifty five
• are an African American
• are a smoker
• are obese
• have a family history of hypertension
• have obstructive sleep apnea
• have type 2 diabetes
FOODS TO INCREASE
• Sesame oil. People who substituted sesame oil for their regular cooking oil for forty-five days had reduced sodium levels in the blood and increased potassium levels, and both help fight hypertension.
• Mineral water. People with borderline hypertension who drank it for four weeks had a significant decrease in blood pressure. It contains magnesium and calcium, both of which decrease blood pressure.
• Omega-3 rich foods, especially fish. An international 4,680 person study in men and women showed slightly lower blood pressures among those with the highest omega-3 intake, even in people without high blood pressure—about one millimeter of mercury, both systolic and diastolic.
• Foods that are rich in vitamin C. People who increased foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, stawberries, sweet red peppers, and broccoli, and foods that are rich in carotenoids, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, and tomatoes in their diets for one year saw their blood pressure go down by an average of 2.7 millimeters of mercury.
• Foods that are rich in folic acid. These include spinach, turnip greens, dried beans, dried peas, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, collard greens, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, celery, red bell peppers, summer squash, cabbage, fennel, and liver.
• Olive oil. It regulates blood pressure and is so effective that some participants in a six-month study on average cut their need for hypertensive drugs in half after eating a diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil, and 35 percent did not need to take any drugs at all. Its polyphenols raise the levels of nitric oxide in the blood, which egulates blood pressure.
• Soy nuts. Substituting soy nuts for nonsoy protein in a lower-fat, higher-fiber diet reduces blood pressure by up to 10 percent systolic and 7 percent diastolic in postmenopausal women.
• The Mediterranean diet. Adherence to a Mediterranean food pattern reduces the risk of hypertension among healthy adults.
• The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Low in fat, red meat, and sweets and high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, it has reduced blood pressure on average 11 points (systolic) and 5.5 points (diastolic), possibly because it is rich in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
FOODS TO AVOID
• Caffeine supplements. The systolic and diastolic blood pressures of men given three hundred milligrams (in, on average, just over three cups of brewed coffee) of caffeine increased by as much as by six points. Drinking coffee increases the risk of being treated with drugs for high blood pressure, except for those people drinking less than four or more than twenty-six ounces of coffee, showed a study of twentyfour thousand adults over thirteen years.
• Energy drinks. Two drinks daily with eighty milligrams caffeine and one thousand milligrams taurine raised blood pressure on average of ten points (systolic) and six points (diastolic) within two hours.
• Foods high in salt and sodium, if you are sodium-sensitive (only about half of people with hypertension are: people at greatest risk are those who are elderly, obese, or African American).
TOP CHEFMD-APPROVED RECIPES
• Grilled Citrus Trout over Crunchy Mediterranean Slaw
• Rosemary Grilled Chicken and Summer Vegetables
• Spicy Gazpacho with Crab
WATER-COOLER FACT: Weight loss is an effective way to lower high blood pressure.