Hypertension, otherwise known as High Blood Pressure, is something that can be otherwise unnoticed unless you are checked by a doctor. However, it can be indicative of huge health problems down the road if not treated. So, that said, what exactly is hypertension (high blood pressure), and how can a plant-based diet lower high blood pressure?
What is hypertension
Hypertension is when your blood is pushing against your arterial walls too strong. This can have devastating effects long term, and often leads to heart attacks, strokes, and the like. Usually, the force in which the blood is pumped through your veins may cause damage to the issues. This can result in plaque buildup, otherwise known as atherosclerosis.
These diseases cause millions of deaths each year worldwide, so finding a way to lower your risk factors is important to preventing mortality. So what can be done to lower high blood pressure, and if you already have it, can it help to consume a plant-based diet?
Fiber and hypertension
When it comes to hypertension, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that fiber helps to lower it. For instance, one systematic review of 28 studies showed that “Higher consumption of beta-glucan fibre is associated with lower SBP and DBP. The results of this review are consistent with recommendations to increase consumption of foods rich in dietary fibre, but some additional emphasis on sources of beta-glucans, such as oats and barley, may be warranted.”
Another systematic review that was released in January of this year said the same thing. They polled 43 studies to see if they can find a link between fiber consumption and blood pressure, and concluded with: “Viscous soluble fiber has an overall lowering effect on SBP and DBP. The inclusion of viscous fiber to habitual diets may have additional value in reducing CVD risk via improvement in blood pressure.”
Fiber is something that we should be considering more of because most Americans do not consume nearly enough. In fact, most American adults only consume about 15 grams of fiber on an average day. This is less than half of the recommended amount, which is 25 grams for women, and 38 grams for men.
Fiber is easy to get enough of, as it is found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. The more fiber that you consume, the lower the chance that you will suffer from hypertension. As a result, it is very important to consume a plant-based diet to lower your high blood pressure.
This is one of the issues that make you wonder if fiber itself may be the cause of lower blood pressure, or if the plant-based foods are just replacing sources of saturated fats, like processed meats, red meat, eggs, and the like.
Saturated fats are known to be a huge risk factor when it comes to all sorts of cardiovascular problems. This is because it plays a role in inflammation, which can, in turn, cause atherosclerosis. Reducing saturated fats in your diet is fairly easy on a plant-based diet, as very few plant foods have it.
In fact, a study of dietary trends of many diets showed that vegans (or those who would follow a plant-based diet for the most part) had less than half of the saturated fat in their diet compared to non-vegans.
While saturated fats have been shown to not be as deadly as we once believed them to be, this does not mean that they are safe for consumption. Many experts agree that you should not be consuming more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day, which is pretty easy to achieve on a plant-based diet.
Weight is a huge factor when it comes to blood pressure. The US Department of Health Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure states “Losing even 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure—and losing weight has the biggest effect on those who are overweight and already have hypertension.” Our Focused on Fit app can help you track your calories and help you lose weight.
But what does this have to do with a plant-based diet? Well, studies have also shown that those who consume more healthy plant foods in their diet are more likely on average to weigh less than people who don’t.
This makes a lot of sense, as plants tend to have a lot more fiber, which fills you up faster, and a lot fewer calories. The more plants that you are eating, chances are the fewer calories that you are consuming overall.
Plants are also full of fiber and plant-based proteins, which can keep you fuller for longer. As a result, you are less likely to overeat throughout the day and be able to lose weight in order to get into a much healthier BMI. You should strive to be in the BMI of at most 25.
But that being said, exactly how important is it for you to consume more fruits and vegetables throughout the day?
How vital fruits and vegetables are for high blood pressure
Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are important to overall health. However, even when knowing this, many still do not even consume the minimum amount of vegetables and fruit a day.
Produce is also full of antioxidants, which are often known for having anti-inflammatory properties. This can help immensely in lowering high blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular events as a whole. There is a reason why vegans and those on a plant-based diet are least likely to have heart problems.
Can a plant-based diet lower your blood pressure?
As a result of all of this, it is vital to follow Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, and have most of your plate be full of delicious and nutritious plant-based foods. While it may not seem like something you want to do at first, it is important for your health, and your body will thank you later. Why? Because a plant-based diet will lower your blood pressure, which means more quantity of years of life and quality years living.