04 Oct Smoothies & Health Part 1: Beating High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most prevalent ailments in modern life, affecting 1 in every 5 South Africans. What exactly is high blood pressure, and how can a healthier diet help to heal you from the effects of high blood pressure?
What is High Blood Pressure?
“Blood pressure” (or systolic pressure) is the term used to describe the force of blood pushing against the artery walls as your heart pumps blood around your body. High blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension, is a condition that occurs when that pressure becomes elevated – typically consistent readings of 140 over 90 or higher. Naturally, this extra pressure puts strain on your blood vessels and on your heart, putting you at a higher risk of cardiac disease, heart attack or stroke.
Luckily high blood pressure can be managed, kept in check and most importantly, prevented, with a healthy lifestyle and a balance diet, rich in blood pressure-friendly foods.
The three key nutrients to lowering your blood pressure levels are: Potassium, Magnesium, and Fibre. The main nemesis of these superhero nutrients – one of the biggest culprits in causing high blood pressure – is sodium. When potassium levels in particular are low, your body starts to retain more sodium, which can send your blood pressure shooting up. When you have adequate potassium and magnesium in your body, your system becomes more efficient at getting rid of excess sodium. If you have high blood pressure, the best foods to include in your daily diet are those high in the nutrients that work to lower it – and keep salt to a minimum.
Best Foods for High Blood Pressure
Spinach: This leafy green is packed with fibre, potassium and magnesium, plus it’s low in calories. Lettuce, kale, arugula and collard greens are also great dietary choices for lowering blood pressure.
Sunflower seeds: They’re a great source of magnesium. Plus they’re rich in calcium, vitamin E and selenium. Delicious raw or toasted.
Bananas: These delicious energy-rich fruits are absolutely loaded with potassium! Perfect for breakfast, and a great on-the-go snack.
Beans: So good for your heart! They’re full of soluble fibre, high in heart-healthy protein, plus a healthy dose of magnesium and potassium too.
Baked potatoes: Unsalted of course, and just make sure you replace that dollop of butter or margarine with some heart-healthy coconut oil. Baked white potato is full of magnesium and potassium.
Dark chocolate! Raw organic dark chocolate that’s rich in caccao (at least 70%). It’s so full of antioxidants and nutrients, including copper, zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, monounsaturated fat and vitamin E. Just a square a day can make a difference!
Berries: Blueberries in particular are beneficial for blood pressure. They’re full of flavonoid compounds that work wonders when it comes to combating hypertension. Strawberries and raspberries can also give your diet a flavonoid boost.
DASH – The Blood Pressure Diet
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan rich in the nutrients that help to control blood pressure; this diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry, nuts and legumes, and some low-fat dairy products.
The Ultimate Hypertension-Busting Smoothies
These DASH-friendly smoothies are tasty, nutritious, easy to put together and specially designed to keep hypertension at bay.
Green Breakfast Smoothie
- 1 medium banana
- 1 packed cup baby spinach
- ½ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup whole oats
- ¾ cup frozen mango
- ¼ cup plain non-fat yoghurt
- ½tsp vanilla powder or essence
- Blend the milk, yoghurt and oats in your blender for 15 seconds on high speed.
- Add the mango, spinach, vanilla and banana. Blend until smooth.
- Drink and enjoy!
Refreshing Lemon Smoothie
- 3 milk/ almond milk ice cubes, crushed
- 1 container plain fat-free yoghurt
- 2Tbsp agave/ coconut nectar
- 1tsp fresh lemon juice
- ½tsp finely grated lemon zest
- Extra lemon zest for garnish (optional)
- Crush the milk ice cubes in your blender.
- Add all ingredients & blend until smooth.
- Spoon into a serving glass and garnish with lemon zest. Sip and enjoy!