Could this be the secret to reversing hypertension?

While everyone — especially people with hypertension — should rely more on flavorful spices and less on salt to season food, avoiding salt may not be the biggest factor in controlling high blood pressure.

Instead, the best thing you can do to lower and control high blood pressure is to limit the amount of sugar you eat, says Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, in Chicago.

“If your blood pressure is above 120/80, you are considered at risk for elevated blood pressure, or hypertension,” Dr. Hampton says. “And when we look at the root cause of hypertension, it may not be a salt thing. It may be a sugar thing.”

In large amounts, sugar, or carbohydrates, causes blood vessels to narrow due to inflammation, resulting in increased blood pressure. Sugar can also increase the body’s sensitivity to salt intake, as well as salt’s negative effects on blood pressure and salt retention in your kidneys. So, if you’re having a difficult time lowering your high blood pressure, Dr. Hampton suggests taking a look at your diet.

“Avoiding sugary drinks and cutting back on desserts isn’t enough,” Dr. Hampton says, adding that most processed and packaged foods also contain large amounts of sugar.

And, surprisingly, many of the fresh foods that for years have been considered healthier options, contain enough carbohydrates to cause adverse effects in people with hypertension and insulin resistance, he says.

Dr. Hampton recommends that people with hypertension consider eating a moderate protein, low carb diet, similar to Keto. This includes limiting high carb Mediterranean diet staples like brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes, starchy beans and low-fat dairy products – which are all converted to sugar in your body. He also suggests eating full-fat cheese and unsweetened yogurt in moderation since saturated fat does not raise your blood sugar and is not associated with increased heart disease as researchers previously thought. A diet rich in nuts, seeds, meats, poultry, seafood and leafy vegetables is a better choice, he says.

Dr. Hampton says that along with nutrition, blood pressure self-monitoring and regular check-ups with your doctor go hand-in-hand with comprehensive hypertension care. For more details about Dr. Hampton’s recommendations, see the American Heart Association scientific statement. To get more healthy eating tips to prevent and reverse hypertension, watch Dr. Hampton on YouTube.

Want to learn more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free online quiz to learn more.

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