Growing up in the 70s, my dad’s health was never at the forefront of his mind. When I was younger I didn’t approve of his smoking, drinking or unhealthy eating but I also didn’t truly understand the real repercussions of the behavior at that point. I knew it was “bad”, but didn’t know how serious the consequences could be.. Now that I’m in my 40s, my dad’s health is very clearly in front of me.
After attending a recent visit to the doctor with him, I wasn’t surprised to hear that he was experiencing high blood pressure. The physician was quick to put him on blood pressure medication but I interjected, as I always do, and asked if there was another way.
The physician looked at my dad, then looked at me and said, “Well… diet and exercise, avoiding red meats, and dropping the cigarette habit, could all make a huge difference…if he actually does all that.”
From that moment I knew I had to do everything I could to fight for my dad’s heart and health. The doctor strongly recommended putting my dad on medication however if we promised to get my dad exercising, eating right and to quit smoking, the doctor would check back in with us in 6 months and see about lowering the dosage.
That was about 6 months ago today. While my dad was extremely hesitant to change any of his aforementioned habits, he knew deep down he needed to take control. So off we went to figure out exactly how to regain control of his diet, his life, and his health. Part of the answer was juicing recipes for blood pressure.
Why Blood Pressure Matters
I’m sure you already know that when the heart beats it pumps blood throughout your entire body. Blood pressure refers to how strongly your blood is pushing against the sides of your blood vessels as it travels. If it pushes too hard, this puts strain on your arteries and heart, which can lead leading to issues including heart attack and stroke.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers – systolic and diastolic. The American Heart Association tells us that your systolic number “measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).” The diastolic number “measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).”
A normal blood pressure reading is 120 (systolic)/80 (diastolic). Just a bit higher than that puts you into a prehypertensive category and at 140/90 you are experiencing full-blown high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
For a better explanation, check out this YouTube video from the Blood Pressure Association that gives a great explanation of how to keep your blood pressure within healthy levels. The reason that this is so important is because it can kill you if you leave it untreated. That’s the harsh reality.
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” because there aren’t any noticeable symptoms. Scary, right? All the more reason to visit your physician for regular checkups, especially as you age. You don’t want to cause damage to your heart, arteries or other organs without even knowing it.
If you feel like you don’t have time for a checkup, some convenience stores nowadays actually have their own blood pressure testing station. You simply stick your arm in the sleeve they provide and they measure your blood pressure for you. Pretty awesome!
The one thing I want to be certain to mention here is that you should not immediately worry about slightly raised blood pressure if you find out you have it. There are ways to lower, and maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
The Effects of High Blood Pressure
However, like I said, if high blood pressure is left untreated it can cause some serious health consequences. The American Heart Association lists the following consequences of untreated high blood pressure:
- Heart attack, heart disease, heart failure
- Kidney damage
- Loss of vision
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory loss
- Fluid in lungs
- Peripheral artery disease
It’s important to remember that these are not symptoms of high blood pressure, these can be the result of it. As mentioned above, high blood pressure has no symptoms.
How to Prevent High Blood Pressure with Juicing
You should know that you can increase your risk for high blood pressure by participating in some negative lifestyle habits, as my dad did for so many years. Aside from age and heredity, being overweight, smoking, being physically inactive, or having diabetes or high cholesterol can all raise your risk of high blood pressure.
The solutions here are obvious. Managing your weight, participating in moderate exercise, cleaning up your diet and quitting bad habits like smoking can all help prevent high blood pressure. These all sound great in theory, but how was I going to get my dad to do all these things?
Well I planned to start simply. While he worked to cut down his daily nicotine intake, I worked to get his diet back in order. The trouble is that my dad hates vegetables and fruits… and I mean really hates them. It took all my mother had in her to get him to eat them while we were growing up, and I think at some point she just gave up.
That being said, I had the perfect solution. Juicing! He’s known to “throw one back” if you know what I mean so my hope was that I could get him to start chugging veggies and fruits instead of beer.
Why Start Juicing?
Juicing is an awesome way to make a lifestyle change. It allows you to try something new that’s quick, easy and delicious. Again, my dad was hesitant to try this but figured if he could “chug” his veggies and be done with it, then he could manage. At least he wouldn’t have to go through the pain and disgust of chewing them!
I was kind enough to let him borrow my juicer for a few months, but you can also have one quickly shipped to your doorstep through Amazon. Believe me, there are tons to choose from. I opted to “rent” one from a friend before I decided to buy.
I got to really see what juicing was like. I feel like I should disclose that juicer are often tough to clean but the rewards are always worth the work! Especially after you do it for a few months, you’ll definitely notice a difference in your health.
Important Ingredients in Juicing Recipes for Blood Pressure
I’ve been juicing for some time now so I already had a few go-to recipes popping into my head when I told my dad about juicing. But, for my dad’s sake, I wanted to find out the best fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to use to specifically to help with blood pressure.
Juicing expert, Joe Cross, tells us that the best juicing recipes for blood pressure include things like:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Antioxidant-rich foods
- Magnesium-rich foods
- Potassium-rich foods
- Fresh or dried herbs
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Omega-3 rich foods
- Coconut water
You really can’t go wrong when adding fruits and vegetables to your diet. However, Joe does suggest foods like bananas, berries, pomegranates, watermelon, carrots, bell peppers, beets, celery, onions, garlic and tomatoes, to specifically help with blood pressure.
If you’ve read any of my posts you’ll know how integral antioxidants are to fighting off the free radicals that damage our cells and our bodies. Even Stanford University refers to them as “free radical scavengers.” Some antioxidant-rich superfoods include dark chocolate and green tea.
Magnesium is another important piece of heart health and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, “low intakes of magnesium induce changes in biochemical pathways that can increase the risk of illness over time.” Magnesium can be found in things like dark leafy greens, maple water, nuts and seeds.
While further research needs to be done, a study published in the US National Library of Medicine noted that “A diet containing more magnesium because of added fruits and vegetables, more low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and less fat overall was shown to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 5.5 and 3.0 mmHg, respectively.”
Researchers can’t really pinpoint if it’s specifically the magnesium lowering blood pressure, or the added benefit of potassium and calcium from nutrient-rich foods, but either way a drop in blood pressure was present. Great news for my dad and others like him!
Potassium is important when it comes muscle function, especially when it comes to relaxing the walls of your blood vessels. Harvard explains that normal levels of potassium help to lower “blood pressure and protect against muscle cramping.”
Lucky for us, potassium in naturally found in many foods. Some potassium-rich foods include apricots, prunes, sweet potatoes and lima beans. Harvard goes on to mention that you may need extra assistance keeping your potassium levels up if you are currently using a diuretic for high blood pressure. So be sure to speak with your physician if are on any medication or before making any diet changes.
Long story short, getting a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet is going to bring you good health no matter which way you look at it. To expedite the process of lowering your blood pressure, try out these 3 amazing juicing for blood pressure recipes!
Blood Pressure Juicing Recipe #1: Potassium Punch
- 6 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 4 lettuce leaves
- 1 cup spinach
- 4 apples
- 2 inch piece of ginger
With carrots, celery and lettuce, this raw juice drink really packs a potassium punch! Try it out to add more potassium to your diet today.
Blood Pressure Juicing Recipe #2: The Green Monster
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 cucumber
- Handful of parsley
- 1 green pepper
- 1 cup spinach
This Green Monster recipe is packed with healthy vegetables. The celery alone contains potassium, magnesium and calcium, all helpful when it comes to heart health. Mix that with the fiber, antioxidants and vitamins you’ll find in the other ingredients and you are on the road to low blood pressure sooner than you think.
Blood Pressure Juicing Recipe #3: Macho Gazpacho
- 3 tomatoes
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 cucumber
- ½ green bell pepper
- ½ red bell pepper
- ¼ small red onion
- Handful of parsley
- 1 lime
Gazpacho is a cold soup made from raw vegetables, it’s a perfect way to switch thing up for more of a flavorful meal instead of just a juice drink. Juice all the ingredients and enjoy served in a chilled bowl.
As you can see, there are some amazing juicing recipes for blood pressure. Whether you want mean, green, high blood pressure-fighting machine or if you’re looking for something a little more creative, there is something out there for you.
Final Thoughts on Juicing for Blood Pressure
Don’t forget, juicing for blood pressure isn’t just for your dad or people who already have high blood pressure. Prevention is key when it comes to this condition. The better you take care of yourself now, the better your body will treat you in the long run. You can start juicing today and lower your risk of serious heart conditions later.
So will you make the choice today to break your bad habits? Will you quit smoking, become more active and incorporate things like daily exercise and healthy eating into your lifestyle?
Make the choice today to break your bad habits, like smoking or inactivity, and create new habits like daily exercise and healthy eating.
As for my dad? Well we just got back from his 6 month checkup and the doctor lowered his dose of blood pressure medication! His choice to quit smoking, move more and start incorporating juicing into his life really paid off. I would love to hear from anyone out there who had a similar experience. Share your blood pressure success story in the comments below.