Health & Wellness
23 Foods That Naturally Help Lower Your Blood Pressure
Worried about high blood pressure? There's some good news: eating smarter lowers your risk.
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The research is in: One in every three adult Americans has high blood pressure, and only about 50 percent of those people have it under control. The good news is that high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can be lowered or prevented simply by eating smarter. All it takes is focusing on foods high in potassium (hello, bananas!), magnesium, calcium and fiber, plus foods high in vitamins C and D.
Easy, right? It can be. In fact, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was created specifically for its benefits in reducing high blood pressure. The eating plan is endorsed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and many health and medical agencies because it works. And it works in just two weeks. Keep at it and you might drop some pounds, too, which also helps lower blood pressure.
Here’s what you need to eat (and drink) to lower your blood pressure now.
Low-fat dairy products, particularly milk and yogurt
Dairy products are good sources of calcium, an essential mineral linked to lower blood pressure. Six ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt contains 310 mg of calcium. Most adults need 1,000 mg per day. If you’re older than 50, aim for 1,200 mg per day.
Wondering which yogurt to buy? Check out which brand our Test Kitchen found to be the best.
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Yes, this fruit is often flaunted as the poster child for potassium because one medium banana contains about 425 mg of the nutrient (daily recommendation is 4,700 mg). Don’t let a single banana go to waste! Use up you whole bunch by whipping up a few of these banana recipes.
It’s a fab fruit full of the potassium you need to lower blood pressure. It’s low in calories, too. Just a couple of wedges add up to 640 mg of potassium. If you’re not sure while melon at the grocery store is actually ripe, check out this handy guide.
It’s one of those super foods that has potassium and magnesium (both on the list of nutrients needed to lower hypertension) plus lots of vitamin C and fiber. Other dark green leafy vegetables are great, too. Think spinach, collard greens and Swiss chard. Your goal is to eat at least four to five servings of these a week. Here’s how to make kale delicious, not boring.
This cruciferous veggie is a good source of three blood pressure regulating minerals: magnesium, calcium and potassium. Or go for broccoli sprouts, which are high in compounds that may reduce hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke. The sprouts also may help reduce artery damage, which may impact blood pressure. Learn how to steam broccoli perfectly every time.
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Sesame and rice bran oils
People who cooked with a blend of the two oils (look for them in health food aisles of major markets) saw a drop in blood pressure almost comparable to the decrease that results from taking medication, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. Researchers believe the effect is due to the oils’ fatty acids and antioxidants.
Scientists took a look at nine studies on green tea and found that drinking 2 to 3 cups of it daily resulted in an increase of arterial width. Wider arteries mean the blood flows more easily through them and may result in lower blood pressure.
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are helpful in lowering blood pressure, according to Healthline.com. The American Heart Association suggests eating 3.5 ounces of salmon weekly. Other fish rich in omega-3s include herring and tuna. Pair this 20-minute oven roasted salmon recipe with a baby kale salad with avocado dressing for a healthy and delicious dinner.
While eggs were thought to not be heart healthy in the past, studies have shown that yolks actually don’t raise heart disease risk. Now, recent research has found that egg whites deserve a place on the list of foods to lower blood pressure, according to a study presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. As MensHealth.com reported, when rats with high blood pressure were fed a protein found in egg whites, they experienced a drop in blood pressure that was comparable to a low dose of Captopril, a blood-pressure-lowering medication. Although more research is needed, eggs are a solid source of protein, vitamin D and other healthy nutrients.
People with high blood pressure who drank about eight ounces of beetroot juice experienced a decrease in blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg, according to a study published in April 2013 in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension. The magic ingredient? Nitrate, which turns into nitric oxide, a gas that widens blood vessels and aids blood flow. A glass a day could help keep blood pressure at a lower, healthier level. Here are 31 things you can do right now to avoid high blood pressure.
Of the foods that lower blood pressure and taste great, dark chocolate is at the top of the list. This bittersweet food is rich in antioxidants called flavanols, which make blood vessels more elastic, according to Prevention.com. Stick to an ounce or less a day and make sure it contains at least 70 percent cocoa.
Sprinkling ground flaxseed over your meals can make a big impact on your blood pressure readings. In a 2013 study published in the journal Hypertension, participants with high blood pressure and peripheral artery disease ate 30 grams (about an ounce) of milled flaxseed daily. After six months, their systolic blood pressure (the top number) went down by 15 mm Hg, on average, and their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) dropped by 7 mm Hg.
Lowering your blood pressure requires more than just cutting back on sodium, Prevention.com reports. You also need to eat foods high in at least two of these three minerals: calcium, magnesium and potassium. With white beans, you hit the jackpot for all three. Just one cup contains 13 percent of the calcium, 30 percent of the magnesium, and 24 percent of the potassium needed for your daily recommended servings. Here are 7 things your doctor isn’t telling you about your blood pressure.
A 2012 study found that when healthy adults drank 330 mL (about 11 ounces) of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks, both their systolic and diastolic blood pressures dropped. So, you may want to start swapping your morning orange juice for one-and-a-half cups of this heart-healthy alternative.
Oatmeal is one of a few semi-processed foods that lower blood pressure. That’s because getting the right amounts of dietary fiber and whole grains is vital to maintaining normal blood pressure, and oatmeal is a tasty source of both. Classic studies have proven that eating oatmeal can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Plus, the fiber can help you maintain a healthy body weight and prevent obesity, a risk factor for high blood pressure. These are the 10 silent signs you could have low blood pressure.
Eating probiotic-rich foods has a modest effect on high blood pressure, per a review of nine studies. The study participants who saw a positive impact on their blood pressure had multiple species of probiotic bacteria regularly for more than 8 weeks. To boost your probiotic intake, try adding kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, and miso to your diet.
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Not only are lentils a great source of protein and fiber, but they can also affect blood pressure. Again, this is thanks to potassium—100 grams of split red lentils have more potassium than a banana, per Lentils.org. Here are 9 surprising things that you didn’t know were affecting your blood pressure.
Flavonoids have been linked to lower blood pressure and hypertension. That’s why berries like blueberries and blackberries are good to have on hand to add to oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies. One study found that people with hypertension who had the highest intake of antioxidants via berries reduced their risk of high blood pressure by 8 percent. Here are 6 serious health dangers of even slightly high blood pressure.
Garlic and herbs
Is there anything garlic can’t do? The vegetable is praised in natural medicine and is linked to lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, too, according to Healthline. This natural antibiotic has the active ingredient allicin to thank for its health benefits. Plus, more research shows eating garlic alters how blood vessels dilate, resulting in blood pressure changes as well.
As little as one serving of pistachios a day could reduce blood pressure, according to the results from one study. Another study also found that the nut may lower blood pressure during stressful times thanks to its effect on blood vessel tightening and heart rate. These are the 8 foods you need to watch out for if you have high blood pressure.
Kiwis are another fruit that positively impacts blood pressure. Some researchers studied how the fruit fares compared to apples. They found that eating three kiwis a day over eight weeks reduced blood pressure in people with slightly high blood pressure more so than eating one apple per day during the same time. A daily serving of kiwi was also found to reduce blood pressure in people with only mildly elevated levels. Kiwis are also an excellent source of vitamin C which can also improve blood pressure.
This spice could lower blood pressure in the short-term, according to an analysis of three studies. More research is necessary on the long-term impact, but a dash of cinnamon on your oatmeal or over fruit could do more good than harm.
Add olive oil to your shopping list. The main reason for this benefit is because of polyphenols. These compounds are known for fighting inflammation and reducing blood pressure, according to UCDavis. That’s why olive oil is a key part of the DASH diet and one of the foods that lower blood pressure. Learn more about the DASH diet here.