High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. Your blood pressure measurement takes into account how much blood is passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood meets while the heart is pumping.
Narrow arteries increase resistance. The narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be. Over the long term, increased pressure can cause health issues, including heart disease.
When measuring blood pressure, you are given numbers such as 120 to 80. The first number is systolic pressure and represents the pressure in the arteries as their blood is pumped through the body from the heart. The second number is the diastolic pressure and indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart pauses between beats.
High blood pressure puts a strain on the heart and can damage the sensitive small blood vessels in the kidneys and eyes, cause bleeding in the brain and even cause certain arteries to inflate and tear. Because hypertension can damage so many organ systems and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, it is considered the world’s number one death factor.
The older you get, the higher your blood pressure will be. This has led many people and even doctors to believe that high blood pressure is an inevitable consequence of the aging process. But we have known for a century that this is not the case!
Studies have shown that there are populations (example: Kenia, Afrika) which blood pressure does not reaches more than 120/80 even when they are above 60 years old. This population followed a mainly plant based diet, high in fiber and low in meat and salt. (Walker AR, Walker BF. Br Med J. 1978; 2 (6148): 1336-7.)
Therefore, we know, that blood pressure can be prevented. But how?
The magazine Lancet published in 2010 that the two most prominent nutritional death and disability risks in the world are too little fruit and too much salt. Nearly 5 million people seem to die each year from not eating enough fruit, while excessive salt consumption is thought to kill up to 4 million people.
What do you think contains the highest amount of salt in the US: a portion of meat, a portion of chicken, a portion of McDonalds fries or a portion of salted pretzels?
The shocking answer: Chicken!
The US poultry industry injects salt water into slaughtered chickens to raise their weight! One portion of chicken contains the daily recommended amount of salt and therefore we consume way too much and get high blood pressure.
Now, you are diagnosed with high blood pressure and your doctor recommends you to eat less salt, would you know that meat or chicken has already more than you should eat? Probably not! You would stop using salt while cooking, eat lame tasting food and all of this for nothing because you have not been informed about the hidden salt!
On average, blood pressure medications reduce the risk of heart attacks by 15 percent and that of strokes by 25 percent. These drugs have side effects such as increased risk of breast cancer, impotence, swelling and an increased risk of serious falls.
Not even mentioning the cost of medications and the time you are wasting in a doctors office.
The best and successful way to prevent and even revert high blood pressure is a plant based diet. I am not saying 100% vegan, I am saying PLANT BASED.
Obviously, reduce the amount of meat you are consuming, try out a plant based milk and look where your fish and eggs are coming from.
But what might help you the most, is to simply increase the amount of full grain, beans, legumes, lentils, green vegetables and fruit. Add some nuts and seeds and replace sugary foods like your cereals or juice with healthier alternatives.
Side effects of a plant based diet might are weight loss, more energy, better skin, lower risk of diabetes and probably a few more years to live. Worth it? You decide!
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