By Julie Christensen
High blood pressure means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. This increased stress can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. Most people will experience high blood pressure at some point in life, but you can significantly reduce your risk by making lifestyle changes today.
If you already have high blood pressure, you can manage it through a combination of dietary changes, exercise and medication. The National Institutes of Health recommends the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet emphasizes a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains, with decreased reliance on fats, sugars and processed foods. Vegetable juices can play a significant role in the DASH diet. Vegetable juices are a fast and easy way to increase your daily intake of vegetables. Several commercial brands are available on the market, but read the labels. Some of them are high in sodium. Juice blends combine vegetable and fruit juices for a more pleasing taste, but look at the label to see how much sugar a product contains.
If you prefer, you can make juices at home using a juicer. These machines are widely available and cost between $100 and $300. They usually retain the pulp in the juice for added nutrition. Look for models that are easy to clean. Several blenders are powerful enough to blend raw vegetables to a liquid form. In some ways, these blenders are preferable to a juicer. They’re usually easier to clean and they’re more versatile. By adding ice, you can make thick, smoothie like juices. Some blenders even have attachments that allow you to grind whole grains.
Find a method that works best for you and make vegetable juices a part of your daily diet. You’ll feel better and probably see a heart-healthy reduction in your blood pressure, as well. Below are the most common juices for lowering blood pressure.
A 2012 study from the IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that just one serving of beet juice could lower blood pressure by five points. Although five points doesn’t seem like much, few foods can provide the same benefit after just one glass. Beets and beet juice are high in nitrates, which doctors believe is the magic ingredient for lowering blood pressure. In the study, participants drank a beverage containing three parts beet juice to one part apple juice. At home, look for beet juice at natural food stores or juice your own. Beet Juice Lowers Blood Pressure at Web MD.
Hippocrates lauded celery juice as a remedy for nervous tension and Chinese medicine practitioners have long recommended its use for treating high blood pressure. Recent studies from the University of Chicago have confirmed celery juice’s ability to lower blood pressure. One participant’s blood pressure went from 158/96 to 118/82 after one week of eating celery. How does it work? Researchers believe compounds in celery relax the muscles around blood arteries so blood flows more freely. Celery juice is included in many commercial vegetable juice products or you can use a juicer to make your own at home. Celery May Help Bring Your High Blood Pressure Down – Cleveland Clinic.
Inexpensive and widely available, carrot juice is a good option for lowering blood pressure. Carrot juice is packed with antioxidants, fiber and phenoloic compounds, which have been shown to reduce the risk of vascular disease. A 2011 study by Texas A & M University found that carrot juice improves overall health and can decrease systolic pressure. Carrot juice is high in sugar, which can exacerbate high blood pressure, so drink it in combination with other vegetable juices. NIH study.
Potassium has been shown to have a positive effect on high blood pressure, and tomato juice is loaded with it. One cup has 556 mg of potassium. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get 4,700 mg. potassium daily, so one serving of tomato juice can help you achieve that goal. At only 43 calories per cup, tomato juice can help you lose weight, which can also reduce blood pressure. Look for low-sodium tomato juice products or make your own at home. Homemade tomato soups and other products offer similar benefits.
Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.