Hypertension or high blood pressure is a serious condition. It can affect everything from your heart to your kidneys and even your eyes. As your blood pressure rises it puts extra strain on the body’s organs – and if not treated properly, it could lead to life-threatening conditions such as a stroke or heart attack. But there are simple steps you can take to lower your blood pressure.
Food For Blood Pressure
Many researchers have found that certain foods can lower high blood pressure. We look at which foods work and how to incorporate them into a healthful diet.
Blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid.
Researchers conducted a large study with more than 34,000 people with hypertension.
They found that those with the highest intake of anthocyanins — mainly from blueberries and strawberries — had an 8 percent reduction in the risk of high blood pressure, compared to those with a low anthocyanin intake.
Enjoy berries as a snack or sweet treat after meals, or add them to smoothies and oatmeal.
Bananas contain plenty of potassium, a mineral that plays a vital role in managing hypertension. One medium-sized banana contains around 422 milligrams of potassium.
According to the American Heart Association, potassium reduces the effects of sodium and alleviates tension in the walls of the blood vessels.
Adults should aim to consume 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium daily. Other potassium-rich foods include:
- cantaloupe and honeydew melon
- sweet potatoes
People with kidney disease should speak to their doctors about potassium, as too much can be harmful.
Drinking beet juice can reduce blood pressure in the short and long terms.
In 2015, researchers reporte that drinking red beet juice led to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension who drank 250 milliliters, about 1 cup, of the juice every day for 4 weeks. The researchers noticed some positive effects within 24 hours.
In this study, those who drank 1 cup of the beet juice every day had an average drop in blood pressure of around 8/4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). For many, this change brought their blood pressure within the normal range. On average, a single blood pressure medication reduces levels by 9/5 mm Hg.
The researchers suggested that beet’s high levels of inorganic nitrate caused the reduction in blood pressure.
It may help to drink a glass of beet juice each day, add beets to salads, or prepare the vegetables as a healthful side dish. Beetroot juice products are available for purchase online.
4. Dark chocolate
This sweet treat may lower blood pressure. A review of 15 trials suggests that cocoa-rich chocolate reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension or prehypertension.
Choose high-quality chocolate that contains a minimum of 70 percent cocoa, and consume a single square, or a piece measuring about 1 ounce, each day.
A range of dark chocolate is available for purchase online.
A daily serving of kiwi can reduce blood pressure in people with mildly elevated levels, according to results of one study.
The researchers compared the effects of apples and kiwis on people with slightly high blood pressure.
They found that eating three kiwis a day for 8 weeks resulted in a more significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, compared with eating one apple a day for the same period. The authors suspect that the bioactive substances in kiwis caused the reduction.
Kiwis are also rich in vitamin C, which may significantly improve blood pressure readings in people who consumed around 500 mg of the vitamin every day for about 8 weeks.
Kiwis are also easy to add to lunches or smoothies.
Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline, which may help to manage high blood pressure.
Citrulline helps the body to produce nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes blood vessels and encourages flexibility in arteries. These effects aid the flow of blood, which can lower high blood pressure.
In one study, adults with obesity and prehypertension or mild hypertension who took watermelon extract showed reduced blood pressure in the ankles and brachial arteries. The brachial artery is the main artery in the upper arm.
Researchers have also found that animals given a diet rich in watermelon had better heart health. In one study, mice who drank a solution containing watermelon juice had 50 percent less plaque in their arteries than the control group.
The mice who drank the solution also had 50 percent less low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which many describe as bad cholesterol, and they showed 30 percent less weight gain than the control animals.
To boost watermelon intake, add the fruit to salads and smoothies, or enjoy it in a chilled watermelon soup.
Oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which may reduce blood cholesterol levels. Beta-glucan may also lower blood pressure, according to some research.
A review of 28 trials concluded that higher consumption of beta-glucan fiber may lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Barley also contains this fiber.
Start the day off with a bowl of oatmeal, or use rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs to give texture to meat or vegetarian burger patties.
Foods for High Blood Pressure
Citrus fruits, including grapefruit, oranges, and lemons, may have powerful blood-pressure-lowering effects. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that may help keep your heart healthy by reducing heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure.
Fatty fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which have significant heart health benefits. These fats may help reduce blood pressure levels by reducing inflammation and decreasing levels of blood-vessel-constricting compounds called oxylipins.
Swiss chard is a leafy green that’s packed with blood-pressure-regulating nutrients, including potassium and magnesium. One cup (145 grams) of cooked chard delivers 17% and 30% of your daily potassium and magnesium needs, respectively.
Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they pack a punch when it comes to nutrition.
They’re a concentrated source of nutrients important for blood pressure control, including magnesium, potassium, and arginine, an amino acid needed for the production of nitric oxide, which is essential for blood vessel relaxation and blood pressure reduction.
Beans and lentils are rich in nutrients that help regulate blood pressure, such as fiber, magnesium, and potassium. Numerous studies have shown that eating beans and lentils may help lower high blood pressure levels.