When it comes to our health, the food we eat is as important as the things we do and the habits that we form. Some food contributes to certain diseases and conditions. However, there also exists the right foods that will help us against certain conditions.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the delicious banana and investigate whether it is helpful against high blood pressure.
A Brief Review
What Is It?
Increased blood pressure is also better known as hypertension. It is a condition in which the force of your blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it produces no noticeable symptoms and can go undetected for years, damaging your arteries and increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.
What Causes It?
There are many things that can contribute to an increase in blood pressure, including your weight, stress, genetics, certain medications, conditions like diabetes, and key to our current discussion, your diet.
How Is It Diagnosed?
High blood pressure is usually diagnosed by a doctor during a routine checkup using mercury or aneroid sphygmomanometer, which measures your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Your systolic blood pressure is the top number (the higher number), and your diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number (the lower number).
Your doctor may also order ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) or home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) if you have risk factors for hypertension or if your blood pressure is higher than normal.
What Are The Symptoms?
There are usually no symptoms associated with hypertension, which is why it is often referred to as the “silent killer.” However, if your pressure is extremely high, you may experience headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, and dizziness.
How Is It Treated?
Treatment for increased blood pressure typically involves lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet, reducing salt intake, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly. In some cases, medication may also be necessary to help lower your blood pressure.
How Does Food Affect Blood Pressure?
With diet being an important cause and treatment for the pressure of our blood, it may be interesting to find out how these mechanisms work. How does the food we eat affect pressure? Why does our pressure go up and down when we eat certain foods?
For starters, we know for a fact that there is a link between eating and pressure. Most times that doctors measure our pressure, it is usually before eating food. This is because readings are always lower after eating.
In fact, studies have found that eating can lower our pressure by around 5-10 mmHg. This isn’t always the case for everyone though. If your body is used to having high pressure, it may not see such a drastic drop after eating.
The Link Between Eating and Pressure
The reason why eating lowers our pressure has to do with how our bodies digest food. When we eat, our digestive system breaks down the food and sends nutrients to different parts of our body through the bloodstream. This process requires extra blood flow, which in turn causes our blood vessels to dilate (widen). This dilation lowers the resistance to blood flow and subsequently, lowers our blood pressure.
Certain foods have been shown to have an even greater effect on lowering pressure. Could bananas be one of them?
Do Bananas Lower Pressure?
Bananas are often called “nature’s blood pressure pill” because they are rich in potassium and magnesium, which are two minerals that have been shown to help lower blood pressure.
A diet rich in potassium can help to keep your sodium levels in check, while a diet low in magnesium has been linked to heightened blood pressure.
Why is Sodium Important?
Sodium is a mineral that helps to regulate fluid balance in our bodies. Too much sodium can cause our bodies to retain water, which in turn increases blood volume and raises blood pressure.
The potassium from bananas helps to counter the effects of sodium by promoting urine production and helping to expel excess sodium from our bodies.
In addition to their high potassium and magnesium content, bananas are also low in calories and fat, and they contain fibre, vitamin C, and B vitamins like folate and riboflavin. All of these nutrients are essential for maintaining good health and keeping your blood pressure in check.
Other Foods That Are Good for Blood Pressure
Dark Leafy Greens
Greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They also contain nitrates, which have been shown to help relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are other good sources of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They also contain healthy fats, protein, and fibre. Studies have shown that eating a handful of nuts or seeds every day can help lower blood pressure.
Some of the best nuts and seeds for blood pressure include almonds, pistachios, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
Fish is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are important for heart health and have been shown to help lower blood pressure. Aim to eat fish at least twice a week. Some of the best options include salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines.
Dairy products are rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They also contain protein and vitamin D. Low-fat dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and cheese can help lower blood pressure.
Whole grains are a good source of fibre, magnesium, and potassium. They can also help to lower cholesterol levels. Aim to eat at least three servings of whole grains per day. Some of the best options include oats, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat bread.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients are important for keeping your heart healthy and your blood pressure in check. aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Some of the best options include berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Garlic is a member of the onion family and it contains sulphur-containing compounds that have been shown to help lower blood pressure. Garlic can be used in many different dishes or it can be taken as a supplement.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and it has been shown to help lower blood pressure. However, it is important to choose dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa to get the most benefit.
Tea is rich in antioxidants and it has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Green tea, in particular, contains compounds that can help to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.
Olive oil is a healthy fat that has been shown to lower blood pressure. It is also a good source of antioxidants and it can help to improve cholesterol levels.
The right diet is so important for staying healthy and regulating the pressure of one’s blood. High blood pressure is a condition where many of our life choices matter. This is a reminder that people need to be careful with what they eat and do. If they don’t, the silent killer will catch up.
Live a healthy lifestyle and eat the right food. And if you run into someone suffering from hypertension, it may prove useful to be equipped with the right first aid skills.
Learn more with CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course today.