Do you love chia seeds, flaxseeds, blueberries, goji berries, almonds, pecans or other antioxidant-packed foods? If so, your blood pressure readings may love them, too.
Here’s why: scientists at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute agree that a diet rich in antioxidants may provide relief for approximately 10 million Americans with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), whom they say are at great risk for a “cardiovascular event.”
PAD, by the way, is a condition in which the cause is yet to be identified, but involves reduced blood flow leading to elevated blood pressure and to leg pain. Past studies say that low antioxidant levels are common in people with PAD. And when the antioxidant levels are low, then oxidation can bind to cells and cause damage. However, the researchers found that antioxidants work to prevent the oxidation from occurring and damaging the cells. More specifically, the Penn State researchers found that vitamin C—a potent antioxidant—effectively reduced blood pressure spikes for PAD patients during exercise.
Matthe Muller, the study’s lead author who is a postdoctoral fellow at Penn State College of Medicine, says, “This indicates that during normal, everyday activities such as walking, an impaired antioxidant system—as well as other factors—plays a role in the increased blood pressure response to exercise.”
The findings of this study also tie into the more than 76 million U.S. adults whom the American Heart Association (AHA) says have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer” since there are few outward signs of it. With high blood pressure, the high force of blood flow can damage arteries, the heart, kidneys, eyes and even the brain. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are the leading causes of death in the U.S.
The power that antioxidants have is that they are able to “clean up” the damage to arteries caused by the gradual buildup of waste materials in the arterial walls—buildup that can lead to clogged arteries and to the heart working overtime to pump blood. Amazingly, antioxidants can restore health and elasticity back to arteries when consumed over time.
Additionally, antioxidants support healthy metabolic function, healthy inflammation, healthier aging and cellular health.
And just what foods are high in antioxidants? Included are foods rich in vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and beta-carotene, such as dark green veggies as well as certain berries and citrus fruits. For example, you'll find ample amounts of antioxidants in chia seeds; flaxseeds; spinach; kale; broccoli; acai berries; goji berries; blueberries; blackberries; strawberries; raspberries; pomegranates; pecans; walnuts; almonds and more.
Other ways to keep your BP under control is to eat healthfully overall, to maintain a healthy weight, to exercise regularly and to not smoke.
Don’t fall victim to this silent killer. Have your BP checked, and make sure you get enough antioxidants in your diet—for BP and other health benefits.