High blood pressure is one of the most common health conditions among adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for a variety of health issues including kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke. Besides regular exercise, reducing stress, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and reducing salt in your diet, there are foods you can eat to help keep your blood pressure in check.
First, blood pressure refers to the force or strength of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day, depending on several factors. When the pressure is consistently high, a person is considered to have high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension.
What Types of Foods Lower Blood Pressure
Some of the risk factors for developing high blood pressure are out of a person’s control. For example, having a family history of high blood pressure increases a person’s risk of developing hypertension. Age, race, and gender can also play a role in your chances of developing high blood pressure.
Fortunately, there are some factors that you can control, such as smoking, exercise, and diet. When it comes to nutrition, there are certain types of foods you should avoid, such as sugar and high sodium foods, and certain foods that may help lower blood pressure.
In general, foods that are high in fiber and rich in magnesium and potassium are good choices to lower blood pressure naturally. It’s also essential to watch sodium content and chose foods that are low in salt.
Top 10 Foods to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
There are a variety of foods that can help lower blood pressure and are good choices to add to your diet. Consider the following foods:
- Blueberries: Blueberries are a good choice to help maintain normal blood pressure. Blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that may have a vasodilation effect on blood vessels, preventing hypertension. In a study involving 48 post-menopausal women with high blood pressure, women who ate blueberries daily had a reduction in blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Add some berries to your yogurt, oatmeal, or fruit salad. (1)
- Beet Juice: Beet juice may not be everyone’s favorite beverage, but when it comes to lowering blood pressure, it is a good choice. Beet juice is rich in nitrates, which are thought to lower blood pressure. In one study, three hours after participants drank 500 ml of beet juice they had a 10-point reduction in blood pressure. (2) In another study, of 254 participants, beet juice consumption was associated with a decrease in systolic blood pressure. (3) You can also get this in a powder form, such as BeetElite. BeetElite is a great-tasting powder used to help encourage the body’s production of nitric oxide, which is important for heart health, circulation and energy.
- Bananas: Bananas are high in potassium, which is helpful in lowering blood pressure. Potassium lessens the effects of sodium. Potassium also decreases tension in the blood vessel walls, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Other foods high in potassium include apricots, avocados, and sweet potatoes.
- Watermelon: Watermelon contains citrulline, which is an amino acid. Citrulline plays a role in the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide promotes flexibility in the blood vessels that may help manage blood pressure. In one study involving 11 middle-age women and three men with stage one hypertension, taking watermelon extract decreased peripheral blood pressure. (4)
- Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium and potassium, which are minerals known to decrease blood pressure. Look for unsalted seeds to prevent taking too much sodium. To incorporate seeds into your diet, add some to yogurt or salads.
- Spinach: Leafy greens, such as spinach, provide a lot of nutrients including nitrates, which are beneficial for blood pressure and cardiovascular health. One study of 26 adults between the ages of 38 and 69 looked at the benefits of spinach. The participants were divided into two groups. One group ate meals that were high in nitrates derived from spinach, and the other group ate low nitrate meals. The group that ate high levels of nitrates had lower systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure than the group that ate low nitrate meals. (5)
- Olive Oil: Olive oil often makes healthy food lists. Olive oil is a healthy fat that helps fight inflammation and can decrease blood pressure. Olive oil is a good choice to substitute for salad dressing, butter, or canola oil.
- Almonds: Almonds are high in antioxidants that are thought to improve blood flow and promote healthy blood pressure. In one study, adult men were divided into two groups. One group ate snacks that consisted of 50g of almonds every day for a month. The other group ate what they normally did. At the end of the study, the group that ate the almonds had reduced blood pressure and higher levels of the antioxidant alpha-tocopherol in their bloodstream, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health. (6)
- Salmon: Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids including EPA and DHA that are found in fatty fish, such as salmon, are good for heart health including lowering blood pressure. For those who do not like salmon, other sources of omega-3 include chia seeds and walnuts. It may also be beneficial to take an omega complete fish oil supplement, especially if you are at risk for high blood pressure or heart disease.
- Garlic: Garlic increases the level of nitric oxide in the bloodstream. It decreases blood pressure by promoting widening of the arteries. In research that involved ten analyzed studies, the benefits of garlic on blood pressure were reviewed. Three of the studies had adults with high systolic blood pressure. Garlic supplements reduced systolic blood pressure by 16 mmHg, which was a significant reduction. (7)
Magnesium and Blood Pressure
Magnesium is one of the most essential nutrients needed to promote healthy blood pressure. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of body processes. In fact, magnesium is needed for almost every function in the body, including your heart. A deficiency in magnesium is strongly associated with problems with blood pressure, including hypertension. Many adults do not get the recommended intake through their diet and it’s easy to become low on magnesium, which is why taking a magnesium supplement is often beneficial to not only maintain a healthy blood pressure but for overall well-being.
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- Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial
- Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite
- Inorganic Nitrate and Beetroot Juice Supplementation Reduces Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Watermelon extract supplementation reduces ankle blood pressure and carotid augmentation index in obese adults with prehypertension or hypertension
- Effects of a nitrate-rich meal on arterial stiffness and blood pressure in healthy volunteers
- An almond-enriched diet increases plasma α-tocopherol and improves vascular function but does not affect oxidative stress markers or lipid levels
- Effects of Garlic on Blood Pressure in Patients with and Without Systolic Hypertension: A Meta-Analysis