Are you interested in learning about what foods can how to improve your blood pressure? Or does the idea of a simple and easy method to lower blood pressure and maintain overall health pique your curiosity?
If so, then look no further! This article provides an overview of what high blood pressure is and what foods lower blood pressure.
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High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood against your artery walls. A normal reading of blood pressure is around 120/80 mm Hg. The top number is the systolic blood pressure, the pressure when your heart contracts. The bottom is the diastolic blood pressure, the force when your heart relaxes.
High blood pressure is when this force becomes too high for a long period of time that it eventually damages and weakens your arteries and heart. This can lead to diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a chronic disease, meaning there is no cure. But, it is manageable, and treating it is important to prevent further harm to your body and health.
But, managing high blood pressure is easier said than done. It is an invisible disease as often one exhibits no symptoms when or after they have developed hypertension. So, it is already difficult for someone to treat it if they don’t already know they have high blood pressure.
For this reason, I highly encourage you to see a physician or doctor if you’re concerned or if the condition runs in the family.
How To Manage Blood Pressure
There are some factors that increase our risk of high blood pressure but are out of our control These include our age, sex, family history, genetics, etc. However, what we can control are the factors listed below:
- A healthy diet and DASH-like eating pattern
- Exercise (at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week)
- Abstaining from excess alcohol and smoking
- Managing stress
- Sleeping well
- Taking medication as prescribed
Eating Well to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
A healthy and balanced diet is key to lowering blood pressure. The key nutrients are potassium. magnesium, calcium, plant protein, and fiber.
Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are both key minerals needed to maintain heart health and can be found in various foods such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Plant protein and fiber are also heart-healthy and are recommended for managing blood pressure.
Lowering intake of sodium is also recommended. But that’s easier said than done. Instead of focusing on completely avoiding certain foods, a good approach to lowering blood pressure is focusing on eating more whole foods and less ultra-processed products like frozen meals, hot dogs and cold cuts, fast food, packaged cookies, cakes, and snacks.
Ultra-processed foods tend to have added sodium. So, eating more whole fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts, and seeds allows you to reap the nutrients these foods have to offer (like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and fiber) without worrying about any added salt or sugar.
The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension, was developed as a result of two studies. Both studies investigated whether a diet that was high in fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products could lower blood pressure. The studies found that a diet high in all of these foods could lower blood pressure (1).
The DASH diet prioritizes eating these food groups:
- Fruits and vegetables (4-5 servings each) – 1 cup of raw vegetables or 1 medium fruit is one serving
- Whole grains (7-8 servings)- 1 slice of bread is 1 serving
- Nuts and seeds (4-5 servings per week) – 1 tbsp of peanut butter makes up 1 serving
- Lean meat or fish (2 servings or less) – 3 oz of cooked lean meat is a serving
- Low-fat dairy products (2-3 servings) – 1 serving is around 1 cup of milk
Foods That Lower Blood Pressure
Strawberries are sweet and simple yet hold so many health benefits. Strawberries are full of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. The berry also has compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties.
A recent study shows that strawberries may have the potential to lower blood pressure, however, further research is needed (2).
Strawberries can serve as a snack or a topping with your toast or oatmeal for breakfast. You can even add them to smoothies as these drinks are quick and easy to make. Check out this article of how to make smoothies to lower blood pressure or this beet smoothie to lower blood pressure.
Blueberries are great fruits and another great berry to add to your list of foods to eat! Blueberries are full of nutrients such as anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that also give the fruit its well-known blue color.
A study showed that blueberries have the potential to lower blood pressure and also lower LDL cholesterol levels and inflammation (3).
Blueberries can be similarly eaten like strawberries, as a snack or topping for your meals and added to smoothies. Try this overnight oat bran that uses blueberries.
Bananas are great sources of potassium and magnesium, key minerals in the DASH diet. It is important to eat rich sources of potassium and magnesium as these minerals are vital to heart health and regulating blood pressure.
Bananas are also a versatile food as they can be made into almost anything. Banana cake, banana smoothies, banana muffins, and so much more! Try these banana oatmeal pancakes or banana lentil muffins for a sweet breakfast recipe.
Beets are vegetables that can also help lower blood pressure. These purple-reddish vegetables have a compound called nitrate. Nitrate helps your body form nitric oxide, which helps widen your arteries and lower your blood pressure.
Beets can be prepared and eaten in various ways. You can blend them into smoothies, roast, steam, or boil them and even mash them up to make a dip. Check out this beet smoothie to lower blood pressure.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is becoming an even more popular option these days because of its health benefits. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols such as flavonols. Flavonols help the body produce nitric oxide, which promotes the widening of the blood vessels. A study found that chocolate could lower systolic blood pressure (4).
6. Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder is rich in polyphenols, which help improve the elasticity of the vessels and blood vessel function. As such, there are many studies showing the beneficial effects of cocoa powder. Indeed, cocoa has shown the ability to lower blood pressure (5).
Watermelons are tasty and refreshing fruits perfect for a hot and sweltering day as it is full of water, vitamins, and minerals. They are particularly full of a compound called l-citrulline. L-citrulline has shown the potential to help lower blood pressure and maintain heart health (6).
Try this watermelon weight loss smoothie.
Oats are rich in a type of fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucans are soluble fibers, which means that once they reach your gut, they absorb water and help form a gel. This slows down the absorption of nutrients into your body.
For this reason, they can help lower blood cholesterol and so may help improve heart health and regulate blood pressure. Try incorporating oats into your eating pattern with this tomato oatmeal soup or protein-baked oats.
Spinach is another leafy green to add to your grocery list! Spinach is notably full of nitrate, which helps make nitric oxide. A study shows that eating spinach soup for a week could lower systolic blood pressure (7).
Spinach can be eaten as part of a salad, smoothies, or even as part of a stir fry. Give this Tuna Melt Wrap a try that incorporates spinach, tuna, and celery.
Carrots contain antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, and E, and polyphenols. Antioxidants can help lower blood pressure by lowering cholesterol levels and platelet aggregation. Carrots are also a great source of dietary fiber.
Carrots are undeniably an excellent vegetable to have lying around the house. They can be eaten steamed, boiled, roasted, or raw with a dip, like this simple sardine dip recipe.
Garlic has been a medicinal ingredient for thousands of years, and according to research, with good reason. A recent study showed that garlic could lower systolic blood pressure by around 8.3 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 5.5 mm Hg (8).
This silken tofu scramble recipe is a great way to start incorporating garlic.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean food that dates back to 2000 years ago. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage or Korean radish. It is prepared using a variety of spices and often contains high amounts of salt.
Despite this, a study shows that eating kimchi does not increase your risk for hypertension and instead provides a rich source of potassium (9).
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans and commonly prepared as a soup. Soy products have heart-healthy benefits, as one study showed that fermented soy foods lower blood pressure (10).
Salt is important in the production of miso with 1 serving containing around 1 to 2 g of salt, which at first glance might make it a definite pass for those looking to lower blood pressure. However, a recent review showed that consuming miso does not raise blood pressure and instead has the potential to lower it (11).
Lentils are heart-healthy as they are full of fiber, a source of plant-based protein, low in fat, and rich in potassium. Lentils are also part of the pulse family, the edible portion or seed of a legume plant. Eating pulses, such as lentils, as part of your daily diet has shown to work at lowering blood pressure (12).
There are also many different types of lentils; among them are the brown, green, red, and yellow lentils. As there are multiple types of lentils, they are also lots of ways to eat them! Lentils can be added to salads, sauces, used as a filling for your tacos, or even ground up and made into a dip.
My favorite way of eating lentils is this vegan protein oatmeal.
15. Plain Yogurt
Yogurt by itself may not seem all that exciting. But, let me be the one to tell you that yogurt is more than it seems. Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is full of protein and probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help promote gut health.
Yogurt is especially known for calcium. Calcium helps to maintain our body’s blood pressure and regular consumption of calcium can help to improve blood pressure (13).
These baked protein oats use yogurt to increase the protein content of your breakfast.
16. Cows Milk
This is another simple food that comes with a load of health benefits. Cow’s milk is a great source of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D are both needed for strong bones but also to help in treating high blood pressure (14).
Milk can be consumed in different ways! It can be added to smoothies or prepared with nuts, seeds, spices, and seasonings such as pistachios or cocoa powder if you prefer it with some flavor.
Most recipes can interchangeably use cow’s milk or other plant-based milk. Try using cow’s milk in this apple spice-baked oats with no banana, you won’t be disappointed!
Pomegranates contain a compound called punicalagin, which has beneficial properties for our hearts. The compound is the reason why pomegranates can help lower blood pressure as it lowers inflammation and oxidative stress (3).
The edible portion of the pomegranate is its seeds. Pomegranate seeds can be put into smoothies, salads, and oatmeal.
TIP: freeze pomegranate seeds to extend their shelf life if you want to save them over a longer period of time.
Cinnamon is a popular spice that can be added to almost everything! Eggs, smoothies, pancakes, etc. They can be bought at your local health or grocery store.
Cinnamon is also known for its health benefits. A study showed that cinnamon could lower blood pressure as it is a rich source of polyphenols (15). As such, it could lower LDL cholesterol levels, the “bad” cholesterol, while raising HDL levels, which is referred to as the “good” cholesterol (15).
Try using cinnamon in these homemade lentil muffins.
Hazelnuts are the second most produced nut in the world (16)! These nuts have unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium. Recent studies have shown that eating nuts regularly can improve health, such as lowering LDL cholesterol.
However, there are still limited studies that show that hazelnuts can improve blood pressure (16).
Pistachios are a fantastic and tasty snack option! They are full of fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins. A recent review found that pistachios could significantly lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (17).
Pistachios can, of course, be eaten by themselves as a snack or added to meals such as in salads or sprinkled on top of your baked goods such as a topping for muffins or bread!
Almonds are another great snack that can be consumed in their whole nut form, as milk or even as nut butter. These are available at your local health or grocery stores!
Almonds pack a health punch as they are full of everything. They are sources of unsaturated fats, vitamins, magnesium and potassium, fiber and antioxidants, and are low in sodium. A published study found almonds could reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure (18).
Try this overnight oat bran recipe with almond butter for a quick and easy breakfast.
22. Salmon (with the bones!)
Salmon is a great heart-healthy fish full of nutrients! The fish is an excellent source of vitamin D and healthy fats, particularly your omega 3s in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Omega 3s are especially important for heart health. They can help lower inflammation and improve blood flow and have shown the ability to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (19).
Eating salmon with the bones is an added bonus too! The bones have calcium in them, and calcium helps to regulate the widening and tightening of your blood vessels and so plays an important role in maintaining blood pressure.
Read more about the difference between Atlantic vs. Pacific salmon here.
Tomatoes are full of healthy nutrients, particularly lycopene. Lycopene is a type of pigment, which is a compound that gives tomatoes their famous red color!
Lycopene not only provides tomatoes with its color, but it also provides antihypertensive properties. A study revealed that lycopene could control blood pressure, such as lowering systolic blood pressure (20).
Try this sardine omelet that is full of blood pressure lowering tomatoes!
Water is one of the most important things in life, so is it all that surprising that it would be included in this list? Water is particularly important for our heart as it helps to maintain our blood volume.
Did you know that you can flavor your water by adding fruits or spices to it? You can add strawberries, raspberries, cinnamon, or even cucumber by either cutting or crushing them and placing them into your drink.
25. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of unsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic and linoleic acids, and antioxidants such as vitamin E (21).
Pumpkin seed oil has demonstrated heart-healthy capabilities as it can lower diastolic blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels (21).
This coconut crunch flaxseed pudding includes pumpkin seeds.
26. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds and butter are great sources of healthy fats, such as unsaturated fats, protein, and magnesium. Both notably contain sunflower oil. A study revealed sunflower oil could improve systolic blood pressure (22).
Try sunflower seeds in your peanut butter avocado toast.
27. Green Tea
Green tea, a popular beverage in Asian cuisine, has shown benefits for heart health. Green tea contains catechins, which have been known to lower oxidation and inflammation (23). A study shows that green tea can also lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (24).
Plantains, also named ‘cooked bananas’, closely resemble bananas in their appearance. The difference is that, like in the name, they are often used in cooking.
Plantains are also rich in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that is vital to maintaining overall heart health and blood pressure.
Broccoli is an excellent vegetable full of vitamins and minerals. It is a great source of vitamin C and fiber, just to name a few.
Indeed, an article found that eating at least 4 servings of broccoli a week could help to improve blood pressure (25).
Broccoli is also a food that can unclog arteries.
Ginger is one of the most popular spices worldwide, with many using it for medicinal purposes. Ginger contains many nutrients, including vitamin C, that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
A recent review that explored ginger’s impact on blood pressure shows that it does have the potential for improving blood pressure (26).
Try these pumpkin protein balls with ginger.
Grapes are another healthy fruit! Grapes are shown to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure as they help the body produce nitric oxide, which helps improve blood flow (3).
Grapes are a great snack to have for school or work as they can be eaten whole but also can be added to salads or smoothies like this beet smoothie to lower blood pressure.
Cashews are a type of tree nut mainly produced in Central and South America and some parts of Asia. Cashews are high in magnesium and healthy fats such as unsaturated fats.
A study found that cashews had the potential to lower blood pressure, as they could lower systolic blood pressure (27).
Cashews make a fantastic gift for heart patients.
Apples are one of the most popular fruits to eat, after bananas! Apples are high in fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin C. As such as they are great at lowering cholesterol levels and so may help improve heart health and blood pressure (3).
An apple a day keeps the blood pressure at bay!
Try using applesauce in this easy microwave egg white oatmeal.
Celery is an excellent vegetable as it provides nutrients called phthalides, which are phytochemicals that can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure (28).
Celeries can serve as a healthy snack. They can be eaten with peanut butter, strawberries, and any fruit you desire!
35. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are highly nutritious as they are rich sources of protein, omega 3s, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
Find out the difference between hemp seed and chia seed here.
36. Chia Seeds
Like Hemp seeds, chia seeds are also rich in fiber, omega 3s, potassium, and magnesium, making them heart-healthy seeds! A study found that chia seeds could help to lower systolic blood pressure in adults with type 2 diabetes (31).
Chia seeds can be consumed in different ways, such as a topping for baked goods, or can be used as part of a smoothie like this pineapple weight loss smoothie.
Flaxseeds are another great seed to eat more of! Flaxseeds are rich in Omega 3s, particularly EPA and DHA, and fiber. Indeed, flaxseeds are shown to be able to lower blood pressure, especially if you consume the seeds as a whole (with the shell) (32).
TIP: store your flaxseeds in the fridge or freezer as this will extend their shelf life longer.
Read about the difference between flaxseed and linseed here.
38. Oat Milk
Oat milk is made from oat grains and can be purchased in other flavors such as vanilla, unsweetened, or chocolate. Because it’s made from oats, oat milk contains beta-glucan, a type of dietary fiber.
Beta-glucan is great for our hearts as it makes us feel full longer and slows our digestion. A study shows that beta-glucans can lower LDL cholesterol (33). High cholesterol levels may lead to high blood pressure as it raises the risk of plaque buildup and the narrowing of arteries.
Try using oat milk in these fluffy oat milk pancakes.
Mangos are sweet and can serve as both a healthy snack and or dessert! More importantly, it can also help to lower your blood pressure. Mangos are rich in fiber, vitamin C and A, and potassium.
A recent study shows that mangos can indeed lower blood pressure and help to manage blood sugar levels (34).
Papayas are tropical fruits that are sweet and have a lively, orange color to them. If you’ve been reading thus far, you can probably guess what compound is in them. Lycopene! Lycopene is an antioxidant that is known to improve blood pressure while lowering LDL and raising HDL cholesterol levels (35).
Final Thoughts On Foods That Lower Blood Pressure
This is not an exhaustive list of foods that may help blood pressure nor an exhaustive list of all healthy foods. If anything, the main message of this article is that the best action you can take in managing blood pressure is to eat more whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish.
High blood pressure is an urgent health issue and one that is truly difficult to control. But with the right mindset and knowledge, you can make a difference and start today with the right foods.
Don’t worry about eating the right amount of nutrients or the right amount of fruits or vegetables. Focusing on eating more whole foods (and less ultra-processed foods) means you are on the right track!
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