20+ Foods That May Help Lower Blood Pressure
If you're concerned about blood pressure, slashing your sodium intake is only the beginning. Here are more healthy foods worth adding to your daily diet.
Leafy greens can help lower blood pressure
Many leafy greens, including everything arugula and kale to spinach and collard greens, contain potassium and magnesium which are key minerals to control blood pressure, according to Harvard Medical School. These nutrients are an important part of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or high blood pressure), which suggests a variety of foods that lower blood pressure. A potassium-rich diet helps the body become more efficient at flushing out excess sodium, which can raise blood pressure, and magnesium helps promote healthy blood flow, according to nutritionist Joy Bauer.
A cold glass of milk offers a solid serving of both calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that work as a team to help lower blood pressure by 3 to 10 per cent, according to Bauer’s website. Those numbers may not sound impressive, but they could translate to a 15 per cent reduction in heart disease risk, she adds. Other research suggests that people with low levels of calcium are at greater risk of high blood pressure.
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If you’ve been avoiding eggs because of heart health concerns, you should know that past studies have shown yolks don’t raise heart disease risk. Now, recent research has confirmed that egg whites also deserve a place on the list of foods that 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.
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This cruciferous veggie is a good source of the blood pressure-regulating minerals magnesium, calcium and potassium. (These are the 13 essential vitamins your body needs to stay healthy.) In fact, high amounts of those three minerals is common among foods that lower blood pressure. Previous research in animals has found that a diet high in broccoli sprouts may help reduce blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Broccoli sprouts are high in compounds that may help reduce damage to arteries, which may play a role in high blood pressure.
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.
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Sesame and rice-bran oils
People who cooked with a blend of the two oils (available at health food stores) saw a drop in blood pressure almost comparable with the decrease that results from taking medication, according to research from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. Researchers believe the effect is due to the oils’ fatty acids and antioxidants such as sesamin, sesamol sesamolin, and oryzanol.
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Again, foods that lower blood pressure are usually high in potassium and similar nutrients. Famously rich in blood pressure-lowering potassium, one banana contains about 420 milligrams, or 11 per cent of the 4,700 milligrams the American Heart Association recommends people consume daily. Surprisingly, however, many veggies are actually higher in potassium than these popular fruits. A cup of Swiss chard boasts 960 milligrams, a cup of cooked white beans has nearly 1,200 milligrams, and a whole avocado has 975 milligrams.
If you’re not eating a banana every day, this will convince you to start.
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 per cent cocoa.
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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.
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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 get the jackpot for all three. Just one cup contains 13 per cent of the calcium, 30 per cent of the magnesium, and 24 per cent of the potassium needed for your daily recommended servings.
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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.
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Oatmeal is one of a few semi-processed foods that lower blood pressure. That’s because getting the right amounts of dietary fibre and whole grains is vital to maintaining healthy 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 fibre can help you maintain a healthy body weight and prevent obesity, a risk factor for high blood pressure.
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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.
Not only are lentils a great source of protein and fibre, 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.
If you’re not a fan of skim milk, yogurt could be a great alternative to fulfill your dairy needs and help fight/lower high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, women who ate five or more servings of yogurt a week experienced a 20 per cent reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure. Dairy also contains calcium which is essential for healthy blood pressure since the mineral helps blood vessels tighten and relax when necessary, per Harvard Medical School.
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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 per cent.
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Garlic and herbs
Is there anything garlic can’t do? It’s a staple 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.
One study found those who took watermelon extract showed reduced blood pressure specifically in the ankles and arm arteries. Other studies on mice also show watermelon’s positive effect. Although more research is needed to determine the specifics, eating fresh fruit like watermelon certainly isn’t going to hurt.
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As little as one serving of pistachios a day could reduce blood pressure, according to the results from this 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.
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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. (There are still plenty of health benefits of apples, though!) 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 also improve blood pressure.
Salmon and fish with omega-3s
Fish, such as salmon, and others that have a high omega-3 content could benefit people with high blood pressure. Research shows these omegas can lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice per week.
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.
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Add olive oil to your blood pressure 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.
Next, read up on the healthiest oils for cooking, according to nutrition experts.