Twelve nitrate-rich foods to lower blood pressure

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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Having high blood pressure is a common condition in the UK, with one in three adults thought to be living with it – although they might not realise. If left untreated it can put you at risk of some serious health problems as it puts a strain on your organs such as the blood vessels, heart and other organs. This can result in potentially life-threatening conditions including heart attacks, strokes or kidney disease.

There are several factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension.

This includes diet, with food high in salt being particularly bad.

However, certain foods could also lower your risk of high blood pressure.

According to TJ Waterfall, head nutritionist at Eat Holy, nitrate-rich foods could do this.

Speaking with Express.co.uk, he said: “Dietary nitrates and nitrites, rich in plant foods, can help to improve vascular function.

“They provide a source for the production of nitric oxide, which signals to the smooth muscle surrounding blood vessels to relax, thus increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure.

“In fact, a recent meta-analysis (review of all suitable clinical trials) showed that beetroot (the richest source of dietary nitrates) significantly lowered blood pressure in adults with hypertension.

“It has also been shown to improve exercise performance across a range of exercise intensities.”

The most nitrate-rich food is beetroot, he said.

However, he also recommended the following foods:

  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Rocket
  • Fennel
  • Leek
  • Parsley
  • Celeriac
  • Chinese cabbage.

He added: “Nitrates in plant foods are not to be confused with nitrates added to processed meats to preserve the meat, enhance its flavour, and impart the ‘desirable’ pink colour.

“In processed meats, the nitrites react with the amines in the meat during processing, curing, storage, and cooking to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens – a mechanism thought to explain processed meat’s links with colorectal cancer.

“On the other hand, nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables, such as vitamin C and certain phenolic compounds, inhibit the formation of nitrosamines from the nitrates they contain.

“So in plant foods, much more of the nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, boosting vascular function and reducing blood pressure.”

Other foods that can reduce blood pressure

Potassium-rich foods

“These reduce the effect of sodium (salt) and decrease the tension in your blood vessels,” he said.

“Some of the best sources of potassium include fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and greens.”

Whole grains

“These provide many important minerals such as magnesium that are involved with maintaining healthy blood pressure,” TJ said.

Flaxseeds

He added: “Studies have shown a couple of tablespoons of ground flax daily can be as effective as some blood pressure lowering medications.”

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