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Healthy eating plays a major role in keeping people in good mental and physical shape as they age. Maintaining a healthy weight and consuming the proper nutrients drastically reduces the chances that older adults will experience serious chronic conditions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypertension is one of the most common illnesses in the U.S., impacting 1 in 3 adults.
Hypertension, also referred to as high blood pressure, is when blood pushes against the walls of the arteries, inhibiting blood flow throughout the body. Although it's normal for blood pressure to rise and fall depending on activities and stress levels, if it stays high for a long period of time, serious health issues and heart damage can ensue.
The CDC noted that of the 70 million adults impacted by hypertension in the U.S., only 52 percent have the condition under control. As hypertension usually has no signs or symptoms, it's important that adults are actively working to keep their blood levels lower than 120/80 mmHg to stay healthy. Maintaining a nutritious diet can drastically reduce people's chances of experiencing high blood pressure and its effects. Here are five foods that may help adults avoid hypertension.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, celery contains a phytochemical called phthalides, which enhances blood flow to the different parts of the body by relaxing the tissue around the artery walls, ultimately lowering blood pressure. Celery stalks are high in fiber, magnesium and potassium, which also assist the body in regulating blood pressure.
Eating the vegetable whole provides the best benefits. Kenneth Shafer, M.D., from the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, suggested consuming around four stalks a day, including one cup of chopped celery. However, celery won't control blood pressure on its own. Adults should include foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts in their diets to prevent hypertension.
2. White beans
Another power food that's known to lower blood pressure is white beans. Prevention magazine explained that one cup of white beans provides 13 percent of the calcium, 24 percent of the potassium and 30 percent of the magnesium people need every day. Look for products that are low in sodium. You can eat them as a side with soups or entrees such as meat dishes.
All fruit benefits the body, but peaches are particularly effective at preventing hypertension. Just one peach provides almost 10 percent of the potassium that people require every day, and the fruit has a good amount of magnesium too. Frozen, unsweetened peach slices are a great alternative to fresh peaches and can be added to smoothies for a refreshing snack in the summer.
Healthline suggested blueberries and other types of berries to lower blood pressure. They're packed with natural compounds called falvonoids that are very effective at helping adults prevent hypertension. Raspberries and strawberries can easily be added to any meal. Use them to complement a breakfast dish or freeze them and serve as a dessert.
5. Skim milk
Dietary approaches to stop hypertension, or the DASH diet, advises adults to consume more foods that are high in calcium. While milk has a significant amount of calcium, it also has a lot of fat. Skim milk, on the other hand, has no fat and all of the benefits of regular milk. Reducing the amount of fat one consumes is essential to lowering blood pressure.
For those who don't like to drink milk, eating low-fat yogurt may also help stave off hypertension. People should keep an eye out for nonfat yogurts that are high in sugar and try to avoid them, as sugary foods are known to raise blood pressure.