How Might The Food I Eat Affect My Risk Of Developing High Blood Pressure?

Dr. Lucks answers the question: 'Food And Risk Of High Blood Pressure?'

ByMatthew Lucks, M.D., Cardiologist, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla
November 19, 2008, 12:19 PM

— -- Question: How might the food I eat affect my risk of developing high blood pressure? (Salt, potassium)

Answer: Most people know that salt is related to high blood pressure. Foods that are rich in salt or sodium, such as processed meats, or cured meats, and canned soups as examples, can raise blood pressure.

There are some other things that raise blood pressure. Alcohol use for example, can raise blood pressure. Usually this is alcohol use in excess, so more than two glasses of wine, or two alcoholic beverages per day can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure for 1 1/2 to 2 times the risk.

Foods, actually that normalize or may even lower blood pressure are those that are rich in the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium. Examples of those would be green, leafy vegetables. Spinach for example is a green leafy vegetable that actually is rich in all three of those minerals and, again as I mentioned, can normalize or may in fact lower blood pressure.

There's some other good news out there: there are small studies showing that dark chocolate actually can lower blood pressure. Usually you have to be careful though and read the labels. It has to be 70 percent or more pure cocoa that hasn't been processed. That's what's been used to lower blood pressure.

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