There are several factors that can affect your blood pressure levels, such as your current health and health history. However, one of the biggest factors you have control over when it comes to your blood pressure is how healthy your dietary choices are. Your blood pressure can change how you feel, focus, and even your overall health in a short amount of time, therefore it’s incredibly important to care for it as much as possible.
So how do you know if your blood pressure is high? Anytime you feel tense throughout your body, have shortness of breath, or feel slightly panicky and anxious, your blood pressure is likely sky high. This is very detrimental to your heart and can even set you up for a stroke risk and heart disease. It’s common knowledge that we need to monitor our stress and avoid too much sodium in our diets to regulate our blood pressure, but we also need to remember what we need to include in our diets, not just what we need to eliminate.
When it comes to managing our blood pressure, many people are aware that calcium intake is important since it reduces stress signals in the body that can lead to high blood pressure. While it’s true we need adequate amounts of calcium, there are two other minerals we shouldn’t forget about either: magnesium and potassium.
Here’s why you need them and how to get enough in your diet:
Magnesium for Your Blood Pressure
Magnesium is a mineral that’s responsible for over 300 different functions in your body. It helps regulate your digestion, blood sugar, sleep, improves your energy, relieves PMS and depression, enhances your mental focus, and much, much more. For your blood pressure, it reduces the stress signals in the body that cause blood pressure to rise. This can happen due to low blood sugar levels and also because magnesium is one of the minerals that can is easily depleted from the body during times of stress. Doctors have even been prescribing magnesium for high blood pressure since the 1930s because it relaxes the blood vessels that lead to your heart.
Daily Dose and Where to Find It
The daily recommendations are 400-420 miligrams for adults age 18 or over, but some people who suffer from high levels of stress, are more active, deal with irregularity, depression, or high blood pressure may benefit from even more. If you eat a plant-based diet, you can easily get more than enough. Magnesium is found abundantly in oats and other whole grains, seeds (especially hemp, pumpkin and chia), beans, nuts (especially almonds and cashews), legumes, all greens, bananas, sweet potatoes, coffee, avocados, and especially cacao, which is one of the best sources. However, a supplement can also be taken before bed if you need additional amounts.
Learn more about magnesium here and get some plant-based recipes to try too.
Potassium for Your Blood Pressure
Potassium also performs a number of important functions in your body. For starters, it reduces bloating and aids in your overall water balance since it counteracts the effects of sodium in the body. Though we need some sodium in our diets for our energy and our health, most whole foods have plenty (such as celery) so we needn’t go using the salt shaker every chance we get. Potassium also helps reduce your blood pressure not only for the way it counteracts sodium, but also because it relaxes your blood vessels and improves your overall oxygen flow. It can also help alleviate sore joints and prevent electrolyte loss in the body.
Daily Dose and Where to Find It
Lucky for us, potassium is found abundantly in plant-based foods just like magnesium is. Women need a minimum of 2,700 milligrams per day and men need a minimum of 3,700 milligrams per day. Eating a diet rich in fruits (especially dried fruits, coconut, avocado, melons, berries, tomatoes, and bananas), vegetables (especially celery, asparagus and potatoes), leafy greens, whole grains (especially oats), seeds, beans and legumes will easily help you get enough through your diet. Other good sources include fortified non-dairy milks and non-dairy yogurts.
*One note: If you suffer low blood pressure, be sure you monitor your potassium and sodium intake and do not take potassium supplements or diuretics. Having too low blood pressure is just as unhealthy as having high blood pressure.
Other important nutrients that benefit your blood sugar are calcium and vitamin B6. Both help reduce stress and can enhance blood flow to the heart and throughout the body. You needn’t opt for dairy or other animal-based foods to get your daily dose; plant-based foods are rich in these nutrients and many such as those mentioned above have a combination of magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamin B6. If you eat a whole foods, plant-based diet as much as possible and watch your intake of sodium, eliminate highly processed foods, fast food and junk food, your blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, energy, and overall health will improve dramatically.
Check out our recipes for delicious ways to enhance your blood pressure today!
Lead Image Source: Nutritious Chili Salad
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