As the holidays approach, a large focus of parties and family gatherings is the food. Treasured recipes are often passed from one generation to the next and prepared at family festivities. While these special foods are wonderful to enjoy on memorable occasions, they can be unhealthy for loved ones who suffer from high blood pressure (also called HBP or hypertension). High blood pressure occurs when the pressure of blood flowing through the vessels is consistently too high. It is common among seniors and known as a silent killer because there are often no symptoms. The condition can lead to dangerous health conditions if left untreated.
Introducing new foods to your usual menu is a great way to enjoy the traditional holiday meals your entire family has been looking forward to the entire year while avoiding the unwanted effects of high blood. The food you eat can help lower blood pressure naturally. When combined with medication or other treatments, seniors can successfully manage high blood pressure during the holidays. Below are 10 foods to include in your holiday meals that will help your loved ones keep their high blood pressure under control.
1. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens contain nitrates and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Whether you prefer them raw in salads or cooked in a side dish, leafy greens are beneficial to your health. Some examples of leafy greens to add to your menu include the following:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
It's common knowledge that salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure. However, if you're used to seasoning your food with salt, you may want another way to boost the seasoning in your dish. Luckily, garlic is a great way to flavor many different types of food, and it actually helps lower your blood pressure. By elevating the amount of nitric oxide in the body, garlic helps dilate blood vessels and decrease blood pressure.
When facing a table laden with special desserts, it can be difficult to resist your favorites. Luckily, one of fall's most popular spices can regulate your blood pressure. Cinnamon has been proven to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure short term. The spice is a favorite for flavoring breakfast bread, oatmeal, and many desserts. Cut back on some of the sugar you commonly use in desserts and add extra cinnamon for sweet flavor without the unhealthy side effects.
Daily consumption of beets can lower your blood pressure in both the short and long term. Beets make flavorful juices, side dishes, and even chips. Beets have a high level of inorganic nitrate, making this vegetable nearly as effective as some medications when consumed daily. Beets can also be added to your traditional salad and stir-fry recipes.
5. Sweet Potatoes
A favorite in many holiday menus, sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, which naturally helps to lower blood pressure by reducing the effects of sodium and tension in the blood vessels. Pack a double punch against high blood pressure when you use cinnamon to add flavor to this beloved dish.
If your dessert table includes dishes prepared with berries, you're already helping your family members who suffer from high blood pressure. Dark berries, like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and black currants, contain vital flavonoids and antioxidants called anthocyanins, which work to lower blood pressure.
Fresh berries are a great accompaniment to any breakfast and can be enjoyed alongside heavy meals or in many desserts. This year, add a delicious berry pie or cobbler to your dessert table, flavor juices and punches with dark berries, or add a fresh fruit salad to your meal. Preparing your traditional cranberry sauce with fresh berries or adding them to your stuffing recipe can add a pop of flavor while offering the benefits of lower blood pressure.
Pomegranates are a sweet and healthy fruit that can lower blood pressure when consumed regularly in juices or when eaten raw. A great choice for dressing up a morning smoothie or your breakfast oatmeal, pomegranates offer the best results when eaten daily. If you're looking for a way to add pomegranates to your holiday menu, the flavorful fruit can be used in drinks, savory dishes, and many dessert recipes.
8. Olive Oil
Many dishes on holiday menus are traditionally prepared with unhealthy fats, like butter and shortening. Using healthy fats, like olive oil, can offer a great alternative for family members with high blood pressure. Olive oil contains polyphenols that fight inflammation and lower blood pressure. Olive oil is a great healthy fat to use in sautéed dishes, in salad dressings, or as a butter substitute.
9. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate might seem like an indulgence that you should avoid, but dark chocolate contains flavonoids that dilate the blood vessels, leading to reduced blood pressure. For dark chocolate to be effective, it must be at least 50% to 70% cocoa and have no added sugar. The bitter flavor of dark chocolate pairs nicely with extremely rich desserts or tart fruits. It can also be added to yogurt or enjoyed alone.
While fish might not be the star of your traditional Thanksgiving meal, including a fish dish can be a great way to include those family members who require a low-sodium meat dish to keep blood pressure under control. Salmon and mackerel are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, and trout is a good source of vitamin D. These nutrients work to eliminate inflammation and lower blood pressure. While you may be thinking that you don't need the extra work of preparing another main dish, fish has the benefit of being easy to flavor and cook right in the oven.
It can be difficult for the seniors in your life to get the nutrients and vitamins they need to stay healthy. There are solutions that can help throughout the entire year. To learn more about the way foods can improve the health of seniors, get in touch with the experienced team at your local Caring Senior Service. Our goal is to help seniors remain happy and healthy in their homes.