Do Whole Grains Lower Blood Pressure?

whole grain kernels Are you one of nearly 70 million Americans who suffers from high blood pressure? According to the CDC, that’s one in every three people! The average blood pressure, measured in millimeters of mercury, is 120/80. If yours exceeds this number, can eating more whole grains help?

Understanding Blood Pressure

Hypertension occurs when the force of blood in the arteries causes the walls to stretch too much. The top number in your blood pressure reading is systolic, the level of pressure in your arteries when the heart muscles contract. The bottom number is diastolic, the level of pressure between heartbeats. A reading that exceeds 180/20 is considered severe. High blood pressure is very common, but can lead to heart disease or stroke if left untreated.

How to Lower Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is increased by our diet and exercise habits. When you eat large amounts of salt with little exercise, you’re more likely to develop hypertension. A study by the Cleveland Clinic and Nestle Research Center found that the risk of cardiovascular disease in overweight and obese individuals decreased on a whole-grain diet. Unlike refined grains, whole grains are the complete kernels with the bran and germ. These elements, which are removed during the refining process, contain important nutrients that our bodies need, like fiber, potassium, iron, folate, magnesium and calcium. Whole-grains include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgar
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
 Refined grains are enriched with B vitamins, but lack the fiber content of whole grains. A high-fiber content helps keep you feel full longer.

The DASH Diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was developed based on research by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Multiple daily servings of grains, vegetables and fruits with less dairy, meats and high-calorie legumes have been proven to lower systolic blood pressure over time by 8 to 14 points.

Regular physical activity is another way to help lower your risk of high blood pressure and associated cardiovascular diseases. Explore your membership options with North Haven Health & Racquet today!