High blood pressure can happen at any age. Standard, non-drug fixes include exercising for 30 minutes every day (walking will do the trick), getting enough sleep (7-8 hours), and managing stress. But diet plays a role, too, and eating fruits, veggies, and 100% whole grains are the ticket to keep blood pressure and a host of other conditions in check.
But now there are new studies that pinpoint specific foods that can help lower your lower blood pressure. Isoflavones -- a compound found in foods such as soy milk, green tea, tofu, and peanuts -- may help lower blood pressure in young adults. That's especially true for African-Americans, who have a higher incidence of high blood pressure starting at a younger earlier age.
In a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers investigated data from more than 5,000 people. The results? People who gobble more than 2.5 milligrams (mg) of isoflavones a day have an average 5.5mmHg lower systolic pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) than those who consume less than 0.33 mg of isoflavones per day. It's easy to get your isoflavones: an 8-ounce glass of soymilk has about 22 mg of isoflavones.
"Our study is the first to show a benefit in African-Americans, but the results are very applicable to the general population," says lead investigator Safiya Richardson, a graduating medical student at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in an American College of Cardiology news release.
A separate study found that eating raisins three times a day may significantly lower blood pressure, according to the study's lead investigator, Harold Bays, M.D., medical director and president of Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center in Kentucky. "Raisins are packed with potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure," says Bays. Sixty raisins -- about a handful -- contain 1 gram of fiber and 212 milligrams of potassium.
While you're at it, add these other foods to the menu to keep your blood pressure in check include:
- Oat bran -- high in magnesium and fiber
- Legumes, particularly black beans -- high in magnesium, folic acid, and fiber
- Skim and low-fat milk and yogurt -- high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, all of which help regulate blood pressure
- Dark chocolate -- flavonoids in dark chocolate that's 70% or more cacao help blood vessels relax and dilate
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