According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 67 million adults suffer from hypertension, which amounts to about 31% of the population. And while many might find this surprising, women are just as likely to develop the disease as men–especially if they’re over the age of 65. With alarming statistics like these, it is more likely than not that you or someone you know has high blood pressure and is taking medication to get it under control. And while blood pressure medications are the best way to manage hypertension acutely, sometimes they come with unwelcomed side effects if you’re on them for the long haul. So, is it really worth it to trade one ailment for another? Probably not! There comes a time when we have to take a hard look at our eating habits and make smarter food choices so that we can achieve better health results. With the help of your physician, slowly weaning yourself off of your blood pressure medicine can be an achievable goal, and according to the American Heart Association, following a Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, also known as the D.A.S.H diet, can be a great start. If you suffer from hypertension due to your diet, here are a few “dos and don’ts” that you can do daily to help get your body back in balance and normalize your blood pressure. Do Eat More of These Three Foods 1. Eat more garlic: Fresh, raw garlic is rich in the active ingredient allicin, which can reduce hypoxic pulmonary hypertension according to research conducted by the American Physiological Society. In the study, scientist increased the risk of pulmonary hypertension in rats and treated some of them with powdered garlic that contained allicin; and treated the other rats with boiled garlic, which didn’t contain any allicin—unfortunately the allicin is destroyed when garlic is heated or cooked. The rats that were given the garlic with allicin, did not develop hypoxic pulmonary hypertension and the rats that were given the boiled garlic actually develop hypertension. Amazing—right? Just adding one or two crushed cloves of fresh, raw garlic to your diet can prevent you from developing pulmonary hypertension, which is inarguably one of the most serious types of hypertension to get under control. So for lunch or dinner spice up your favorite vegetable dish with fresh, crushed garlic—which satisfies both, your palate and your heart. 2. Eat more green leafy vegetables: Green leafy vegetables like Kale and spinach are rich in magnesium, which helps to regulate the proper functioning of your heart; as well as assist in reducing your blood pressure. Magnesium helps to lower blood pressure by relaxing your muscles (your heart is a very important muscle-you know!) which in turn promotes less tension and restriction in your arteries. Magnesium also helps to reduce calcium buildup in the arteries—when calcium builds up in the arteries, it causes them to stiffen and harden. Since blood cannot flow freely through stiff, hard arteries, hypertension will develop over time. The recommended daily dose for magnesium is about 350 mg. 3. Eat more bananas: Got a sweet tooth? Instead of grabbing that cookie, why not eat a banana instead? Bananas are very high in potassium, which is another essential macromineral. Potassium reduces the effect of salt by excreting it through the kidneys. So when you consume too much salt, it’s probably wise to load up on potassium rich roods like bananas or cantaloup to keep your sodium/potassium rations in balance. In addition to helping to reduce sodium, potassium is also necessary for transferring energy between cells, and regulating both, nerve impulses and heart rhythm. You should strive to consume about 4700 mg of potassium daily. Reduce Your Intake of These Two Foods 1. Reduce your salt intake: The American Heart Association recommends that we reduce our daily salt intake to 1500 milligrams, which can be relatively easy if we ate less processed foods outside and inside of the home. If you dine out a lot, the odds are that you are getting way to much sodium in your daily diet. And before those of you who dine in most of the time, pat yourselves on the back, take a look at exactly what you’re cooking. Is it prepackaged or pre-seasoned? If so, then you’re getting just as much sodium as those who dine out in restaurants. Simply cooking whole foods like fresh vegetables and meats and adding your on safe, natural seasonings puts you in control of your salt intake; and therefore, helps you to manage how much sodium you consume daily. 2. Reduce the amount of carbohydrates and sugar in your diet: Did you know that your insulin levels also play a major role in hypertension. Shocking, I know— But true! According to Dr. Ron Rosedale, an internationally known expert in nutritional metabolic medicine, insulin stores magnesium. But if your insulin receptors are not working properly and your cells are resistant to the insulin, then the insulin cannot store the magnesium. When this happens, the magnesium actually passes from your body— leaving you deficient. This is why we often see hypertension and diabetes together-usually if you have one of these chronic illnesses, you will eventually get the other. So, it’s important that you reduce your carbs-including whole grains, because they become sugar when metabolized and can lead to insulin resistance. Our bodies are truly miraculous machines, and like our cars, must be fed properly for optimal performance. Incorporating these simple tips daily just might reveal the root cause of why you or someone you know are apart of the one out of three Americans that are suffering from hypertension.