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To lower blood pressure and guard against heart disease: Essential diet items

To lower blood pressure and guard against heart disease: Essential diet items What products should be in the diet (photo: Freepik)

A well-rounded diet should consist of a variety of foods. Red vegetables and berries, in particular, are highly beneficial for health. Thanks to their high antioxidant content, they protect against heart diseases, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of developing cancer, states dietitian Oleg Shvets.

Benefits of red-colored food

"Vegetables, fruits, and berries of red color are naturally low in calories and contain very little sodium. Such products are an excellent source of carotenoids, particularly lycopene, which gives these foods their red hue. It has been proven that lycopene helps protect the human body from various cancers, including lung cancer, breast and prostate cancer, skin cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal cancer," says the doctor.

Antioxidants aid in combating cancer and heart diseases, improving eyesight, and lowering blood pressure, inflammation, and macular degeneration. Increasing the intake of antioxidants reduces oxidative stress, thereby lowering the risk of many diseases such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and more.

What products to include in your menu

Shvets recommends incorporating the following products into your diet:

  • Fruits and Berries: Cranberries, pomegranates, cherries, red oranges, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, red apples, red grapes, red grapefruit, guava.
  • Vegetables: Red bell peppers, tomatoes, red beans, red chili peppers, beets, radishes, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb.

Advantages of red products

Tomatoes contain a high level of lycopene, which helps combat prostate, esophageal, and colorectal cancers. Lycopene is more potent in processed tomato products and dishes such as soups, stews, and tomato sauce.

Strawberries are an excellent source of folate, potassium, and vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts immunity and lowers harmful cholesterol levels. One serving of strawberries (120-150 g) contains more vitamin C than an orange.

Cranberries can prevent urinary tract infections by preventing bacteria from settling on the walls of the urinary tract. This action is attributed to the antioxidant proanthocyanidin found in these berries.

Cherries contain anthocyanins, compounds that protect the body from free radicals, accelerating the aging process and causing cell damage.

Raspberries are rich in fiber, helping to reduce levels of "bad cholesterol." They also contain significant amounts of zinc, niacin, potassium, and a wide range of polyphenolic phytochemicals, such as lignans, tannins, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. The anthocyanins in raspberries reduce inflammation and lower the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.

Red bell peppers are an excellent food for a strong immune system. They contain vitamins A, C, B6, E, folate, and are low in calories.

Red kidney beans are rich in heart-healthy fiber, zinc for reproductive health and wound healing, and B vitamins that support neurological functions. These beans also contain potassium and folic acid.

Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering "bad cholesterol." Additionally, it decreases the risk of prostate cancer and macular degeneration.

Beets are one of the best antioxidant-rich vegetables. They contain a lot of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and folate. These nutrients play a crucial role in lowering blood pressure, increasing athletic endurance, and improving blood circulation.

Red radish is a good source of potassium, folic acid, vitamin C, lycopene, anthocyanins, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamins B6, E, K, and fiber. All of these are essential for supporting the health of various body systems.

Red apples contain antioxidants, dietary fiber, and flavonoids. Antioxidants reduce the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases.

Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants that help prevent cancer, especially prostate cancer. They have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

"To increase the amount of red products in your menu, add red peppers, radishes, and red onions to salads, include tomato puree or sliced tomatoes in dishes, eat a handful of berries with breakfast, and make smoothies and sauces with berries," advises Shvets.