The reason behind hypertension may be a mystery, but its control is often not. When a direct cause for high blood pressure can be identified, the condition is called secondary hypertension. Among the most known trigger is kidney disease. However, out of the 95 percent of high blood pressure cases reported in the United States, the underlying cause cannot be determined. This type of hypertension, called essential hypertension, has been linked however to certain risk factors.

It tends to be genetic, affects men more than women and is influenced by lifestyle. Age and race can also play a role ― in the U.S. blacks are twice as likely as whites to have hypertension, although the gap closes at around 44 years and after 65, black women have the highest incidences.

Other factors that can raise the risk of having essential hypertension include obesity; diabetes; stress; insufficient intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium; lack of physical activity; and chronic alcohol consumption.

Diet also has a major influence on essential hypertension especially when it comes to salt consumption. Studies have found that people who don’t add any salt to their food have almost no hypertension, while almost all those with high blood pressure experience hikes in their BP levels if they take more than the minimal amount of salt needed by the body.

While many of these causes are out of our control, how we live and what we eat, are. Limiting salt and adding potassium, magnesium, vitamin D and calcium play an important part lowering blood pressure and there are five foods in particular that can help.

Bananas, which are high in potassium, may reduce your blood pressure by as much as 10 percent. The vitamin D and calcium in skim milk or 1 percent milk can lower high blood pressure by 3 to 10 percent. Spinach is another source of potassium and other key nutrients like folate (folic acid) and magnesium. It is also rich in fiber and low in calories. Beans are another excellent source of fiber, magnesium and potassium – these include pinto, black, white, navy, lima, and kidney beans. Last, but not least is the much touted dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa powder. The blood pressure lowering ingredients in dark chocolate are antioxidants and flavoroids can help to lower blood pressure.

The tendency towards natural ways to lower blood pressure as opposed to taking medication is growing in popularity. Clearly, there is no decision to make if there are ways to lower blood pressure without resorting to drugs – and suffering their side effects.

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