Lower Blood Pressure Naturally Through a Raw, Vegan Diet
By Anne Forkan and Kristen Overlock
What if you could eat your way to heart health? what is a good heart healthy diet includes plenty offoods for a plant based diet: fresh fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome choices. There's plenty of scientific data that suggests such a diet not only helps people control high blood pressure and lose weight. And with weight loss, blood pressure frequently falls back into the normal range too.
What is it about such a diet that helps control blood pressure? The key is in the chemistry of a plant-based diet.
The Sodium and Potassium Link to High Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association website, "Potassium blunts the effects of sodium." That's good news for the millions of people trying to eat a heart healthy diet. Sodium or salt is found in many foods, and we do need some sodium for health - but not nearly as much as the average person eats on a given day. It's not just the salt you shake onto your French fries that counts, either. Foods such as canned soup, canned vegetables, ketchup and other condiments, salad dressing, frozen meals and restaurant meals are loaded with salt. The average person consumes well over the recommended amount, often double or even triple that amount.
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One of the first things doctors recommend to people diagnosed with high blood pressure (readings over 140/90) is to reduce their salt intake. Why? Salt and potassium are part of the intricate chemical system that regulates how much fluid is in the body. You've probably noticed that when you eat very salty foods, you retain water temporarily. When you retain fluids, it puts extra pressure on your cardiovascular system and can raise blood pressure. Over time, the imbalance may cause a constant rise in blood pressure or high blood pressure. Potassium, on the other hand, blunts the effects of salt in the body and helps the body more efficiently regulate blood pressure.
It may be tempting to visit the health food store and stock up on potassium pills, but that could actually be dangerous. Too much potassium can be very harmful and potassium supplements should only be taken under a doctor's advice.
Instead of popping vitamins, a much better way to both lower your salt intake and increase your intake of potassium as well as many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is to eat a plant-based diet.
Why Eat a Raw, Vegan Diet?
One of the largest studies every conducted on dietary patterns and health, The China Study, is also the subject of a best selling book by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. Dr. Campbell's research and analysis of other scientists' research indicates that in all cases, a diet rich in plants seems to prevent heart diseases, improve heart health, reduce blood pressure and prevent many other chronic diseases. Other doctors such as Dr. Pritikin and Dr. Dean Ornish concur.
For those who want to experience optimal health, a raw, vegan diet is ideal. A raw vegan diet is based on eating an abundance of green vegetables, fruits, and other raw, uncooked vegetables. It's naturally abundant in potassium and other heart-healthy substances while low in things you want to avoid in a heart healthy diet, such as fats and sodium.
How to Start Eating for Heart Health
The best way to start eating a heart healthy diet is to focus on consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables while minimizing processed foods. Make slow, gradual changes, such as changing a breakfast heavy on bacon and eggs over one heavy on fresh fruit. Enjoy the changes, follow your doctor's advice, and eat more plant-based foods for heart health.