In modern Western countries, around one in three adults have high blood pressure, putting them at risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. High blood pressure is described as a “silent killer” because it often causes no symptoms, but may be the precursor to a fatal heart attack. Fortunately, a few common foods, available at any supermarket, have special properties that can help to lower high blood pressure or maintain blood pressure within the normal range.
Garlic works in three ways to ensure healthy blood pressure. It is a natural blood thinner and anticoagulant. It also helps to prevent constriction of blood vessel walls. Finally, it is a natural ACE inhibitor. By blocking the formation of ACE, garlic helps to prevent blood pressure from rising. Crush or finely chop garlic to release the allicin and use it immediately to prevent the allicin from degrading.
Dark chocolate contains phytochemicals called flavanols. When consumed, flavanols increase the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes and dilates the blood vessel walls, allowing blood to flow more freely. It also protects the lining of the arteries. Several studies have shown that consumption of dark chocolate can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure. You can help to decrease your risk of heart disease by eating one small square of chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa every day.