16 Non-Drug Ways To Lower Blood Pressure (Continued)
4. Pile on potassium. The USDA Dietary Reference Intakes recommend that adults consume at least 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day and no more than 2,300 mg of sodium. (However, most Americans do the reverse — we consume twice as much sodium as potassium.) A review of studies published in the July 2008 issue of Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that eating foods rich in potassium may help lower blood pressure. Good, low-glycemic sources of potassium include soybeans, canned beans, tomato sauce and paste, beet greens, spinach, halibut, lima beans, and lentils.
5. Get enough magnesium. Eating foods rich in magnesium may also benefit blood pressure control. A recent review of studies found an inverse relationship between dietary magnesium and blood pressure. Furthermore, research links magnesium intake to a reduced risk of stroke and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension). Good sources of magnesium include bran cereal, brown rice, almonds, hazelnuts, lima beans, spinach, and milk.
6. Don't forget milk. Calcium-rich foods like milk have also been shown to reduce blood pressure. The USDA recommends 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg of calcium a day, the amount found in two to three 8-ounce glasses of milk. Other good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheese, tofu, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, spinach, and kale.
7. Have a potato. Ok, maybe just a small one. They're not only rich in potassium, they contain a blood-pressure lowering compound called kukoamines, a substance previously only known to be found in Chinese herbal medicine. If potatoes are too carb-heavy for your meal plan, try tomatoes instead. They contain kukoamines, too, but in lower concentrations.
8. Sweeten with stevia. A one-year, double-blind study found this sweet herb may lower blood pressure. Sold as a sweetener in Asia, stevia is available only as a dietary supplement in the United States. It has no calories or carbohydrates and shouldn't impact your blood sugar. While many people like its sweet taste, others find it bitter, especially in large doses. Try the different kinds. You may be able to sample stevia at your local natural foods store to see if you like it.
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Reviewed by Susan Weiner, R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N. 10/08
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