The most important nutrient for lower blood pressure

When you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, diet plays a big role.

In fact, even if you’re on medications to manage your blood pressure, your doctor will most certainly tell you to make changes to your diet. Why? What you’re eating (and how much) is really at the root of the problem.

Scientists and doctors agree that eating too many calories, and the weight gain that follows, are the biggest factors in high blood pressure for most people.

But just cutting back on calories isn’t always enough to get that high BP down. If you’re eating the wrong foods… or not eating the right ones… your blood pressure could still be a persistent problem. Case in point?

A new study shows that a low fiber diet can trigger high blood pressure.

Why low fiber means high blood pressure

A recent study from researchers at Monash University shows that not eating enough prebiotic fiber causes high blood pressure in mice.

In the study, researchers fed some mice a diet low in prebiotic fiber and others a diet high in prebiotic fiber. The mice who got the low prebiotic fiber had a higher risk of high BP.

Researchers also did fecal transplants on mice with no existing microbiomes. Some mice received microbes associated with low-fiber diets and others received microbes associated with high-fiber diets. The mice who received microbes associated with low-fiber diets also had a higher risk of high blood pressure.

Now, this isn’t the first time fiber’s been linked to high blood pressure. There have been plenty of studies showing that eating more fiber can help lower blood pressure. But that’s mostly led to a mindset that fiber can help protect you from high blood pressure. This study shows that eating a low fiber diet could be causing your high blood pressure in the first place.

This study also provides evidence for exactly how fiber impacts your blood pressure — through your microbiome. Although, the notion that your gut influences your blood pressure isn’t a new one. It’s also backed by lots of research.

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The prebiotic fiber path to better blood pressure

There are entire diets designed to lower blood pressure (like the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH diet). But if you’re looking for a way to get that BP down without changing everything in your diet, eating more fiber may be a simple solution.

This study focused specifically on prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, which is why it’s so beneficial to your blood pressure and a number of other things — like your diabetes risk and even your cancer risk.

So, how do you get more of this magical prebiotic fiber? That’s easy. Eat more of the following foods:

  • Chicory root
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Dandelion greens
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Apples
  • Konjac root
  • Cocoa
  • Burdock root
  • Flaxseeds
  • Yacon root
  • Wheat bran
  • Jicama root
  • Seaweed

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Sources:

  1. Low fiber diet can cause high blood pressure, international study finds — MedicalXpress
  2. Deficiency of Prebiotic Fibre and Insufficient Signalling Through Gut Metabolite Sensing Receptors Leads to Cardiovascular DiseaseCirculation
  3. The effect of nutrition on blood pressureAnnual Review of Nutrition
  4. High-Fiber Diet May Fight High Blood Pressure — WebMD
  5. 10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication — Mayo Clinic

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.