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Are you one of the 67 million Americans walking around with high blood pressure? Known as “the silent killer” hypertension is a stealthy stalker that can lead to stroke, heart attack and, further down the line, kidney failure. Typically it has neither warning signs nor symptoms. Many, who aren’t regularly checked don’t even know they have it. And of those who DO know, 47% have not gotten it under control, often because they have stopped taking medications with undesirable side effects.

Another way to attack the problem is to eat foods that are delicious, healthy and proven to be as effective as medication in bringing down blood pressure. They’re part of the Mayo Clinic’s Dash Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Here are five of those foods that are particularly rich in nutrients that can literally bring down the numbers of high blood pressure.

Avocado: Potassium lowers hypertension more effectively than any other mineral and avocados are loaded with the stuff – 975 milligrams. As a bonus, avocados are packed with tons of vitamins and other minerals and are at the top of numerous healthful diets.

Bananas: Leading the fruit parade in potassium, a banana contains 450 milligrams. America’s favorite fruit is also rich in fiber and easy on the wallet. (My local fruit stand charges a big dollar for four or five.)

Dark chocolate: Imagine – eating this divine food is not only a sensuous pleasure, but also a medical treatment for high blood pressure. Marvelous – along with its’ flavorsome punch, dark chocolate delivers flavonoids to our blood vessels, a substance that protects against heart and vascular disease. The highest concentration of flavonides is found in unsweetened cocoa powder.

Yogurt: Consuming an average of 1250 milligrams of calcium a day reduces the risk of contracting hypertension in the first place. And nothing is richer in calcium than plain, low-fat yogurt. Toss in some berries for a sweet treat. When it comes to calcium supplements versus calcium rich foods, a Women’s Health Initiative Study declared calcium rich foods the winner.  They had twice the blood-pressure-lowering effect of supplements.

Red Wine: Aside from being a lovely addition to dinner, drinking red wine in moderation (one glass daily for women, two for men) is beneficial in both preventing and treating high blood pressure thanks to a positive combo of ethanol and an antioxidant called polyphenol. Red also has ten times the amount of polyphenol power as white wine.

Check out a few of the tasty-sounding, Dash Diet menus at the Mayo Clinic.

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