It’s normal for your blood pressure readings to fluctuate throughout the day, and this can depend on several factors like exercise, daily sodium intake, and stress. The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as 120/80 mmHg. However, when your blood pressure readings consistently hits at 140/90 mmHg, this considered hypertension. High blood pressure can damage your vascular system, servings as a risk factor of other serious diseases and health conditions, like heart disease, stroke, cognitive issues, and kidney disease. But there are ways to help lower your blood pressure, and this includes incorporating certain foods into diet while avoiding others.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a serious health condition that can stem from lifestyle choices as well as other preexisting conditions, such as family history, age, and even race. There are health conditions that can also increase the risk of developing hypertension, like diabetes and obesity. According to the CDC, irregular physical activity, a high-sodium diet, inadequate dietary potassium, alcohol consumption, and nicotine use are just some of the unhealthy lifestyle choices that may increase your risk for high blood pressure.
February is American Heart Month and serves as a reminder to prioritize your cardiovascular health, and one way you can help manage your blood pressure is through a healthy diet. In addition to monitoring your sodium intake, certain foods can play a significant role in lowering your blood pressure based on their nutrition content, too. Consuming enough potassium and eating adequate amounts of other essential nutrients just a couple of examples of some of the helpful avenues to lowering blood pressure.
To help regulate your levels, here are 21 one foods you can eat to help lower your blood pressure.
That’s right, regular baked potatoes can actually benefit your blood pressure. In fact, one medium baked potato provides 13% of the daily value (DV) for potassium. Increasing your intake of potassium can decrease your blood pressure if you have hypertension. To further aid your blood pressure goals, skip the salt on your potato and instead enjoy a dollop of plain Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of black pepper.
A popular summertime fruit, cantaloupe is also a source of potassium. A half cup serving provides 5% DV for potassium, and because of its high-water content, it is also relatively low in calories. The same half cup portion provides fewer than 30 calories, allowing it to fit within a wide range of energy needs. Pair with low sodium cottage cheese for an excellent combination of protein and produce.
Fatty fish that contains essential Omega-3 fats, like mackerel and salmon, have been shown to reduce blood pressure. Mackerel has a firm texture similar to tuna and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Add to a salad or as a protein on your sandwich, along with avocado and greens for a rounded meal. When choosing canned mackerel, look for options with lower sodium content as this nutrient can elevate blood pressure.
This popular food enjoyed grilled, baked, roasted, and more may help in your quest to lower your blood pressure. One study found a protein in chicken legs lowered blood pressure in hypertensive rats. Choosing skinless poultry can reduce the amount of saturated fat in your meal, a practice that can protect your heart. To keep sodium low, season your chicken with herbs, spices, and black pepper rather than salt.
Research suggests a diet rich in protein, like that found in egg whites, may help lower blood pressure. According to this data, adults who consume more dietary protein from either plant or animal sources have lower long-term risk of high blood pressure. From a carton or separated from the yolk, scrambled or boiled, egg whites are a versatile and convenient protein.
An ingredient that has gained popularity over recent years, chia seeds contain fiber, protein, and Omega-3 fats. One study found daily supplementation of chia seeds for 12 weeks resulted in lower systolic blood pressure. Chia seeds can be added to just about anything- salads, baked goods, and yogurt, or as the star of the show in chia pudding.
While this may not be the most popular squash varietal, acorn squash can easily be found at your grocery during the fall and winter months. Providing 14% of DV for potassium, acorn squash is another source of this blood pressure-lowering nutrient. By relaxing the walls of blood vessels, potassium is able to reduce blood pressure, and even protect against muscle cramping. Acorn squash is most often enjoyed roasted and paired with seasonings such as sage and rosemary.
While you may not have heard of quinoa prior 15 years ago, it has become a common grain because of its nutrient density and ease of preparation. A 2021 study found quinoa protein to have blood pressure-lowering effects in rats with spontaneous hypertension. The study notes the quinoa protein may benefit the gut microbiota, and in turn, blood pressure. Quinoa can be eaten as a side dish, a top a salad, or in place of oatmeal to name only a few preparations.
Considered a dark leafy green vegetable, arugula and others in this class are known for the blood pressuring-lowering effects. Arugula contains nitrates, and 2014 study concluded nitrates have the ability to reduce blood pressure and may provide relief to those with hypertension. Arugula is most often enjoyed raw as part of a salad or slightly wilted into a pasta dish or a top a pizza.
Known for its bright green flesh, kiwi fruit may also be able to lower blood pressure. In a study comparing the blood pressure-lowering ability of kiwi and apple, it was kiwi that had more of an impact on blood pressure. The participants consumed three kiwis per day, and while this may sound like a lot, researchers note one cup of kiwi, which is about 2-3 to kiwifruits, is considered a serving.
A popular grain, brown rice is an easy to prepare, versatile meal component. Research states the insoluble fiber in brown rice may aid in reducing blood pressure. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan was developed specifically to help individuals manage their blood pressure and suggests 6 to 8 servings of whole grains per day, including brown rice.
The DASH diet also recommends 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds, beans, and peas per week. Nuts and seeds are a source of unsaturated fats, which are considered to be beneficial fats. These fats can improve cholesterol and ease inflammation, and are largely found in plant foods. Enjoy peanut butter with a banana to incorporate potassium or on whole grain bread for a fiber boost.
Legumes are a category that include beans, peas, and lentil. This entire category should be consumed 4 to 5 times per week, according to the DASH diet. Lentils are easy to prepare and pack so many valuable nutrients. Fiber and protein are found in lentils, and 1 cup of this cooked legume contains 16% of DV for potassium.
Nuts can be included in whole or “butter” form as part of the DASH diet. Pistachios are a source of unsaturated fat, fiber, protein, and potassium, and are also lower in calories compared to other nuts. This nutrient profile allows them to assist in lowering blood pressure. Enjoy your nuts unsalted to maximize their blood pressure-lowering abilities.
The DASH Diet recommends fat-free and low-fat dairy products 2 to 3 times per day. Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, making it an easy way to incorporate this satiating nutrient into meals. Look for low-sodium cottage cheese when possible, and enjoy with potassium-rich fruits, like cantaloupe and kiwi for a meal or snack.
A cruciferous veggie that can be enjoyed raw, steamed, or roasted, broccoli may also be able to lower blood pressure. One study noted a compound found in cruciferous vegetables was able to protect against the rise of blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. As a common vegetable that can be included in salads and side dishes, broccoli is another vegetable with blood pressure-lowering abilities.
Along with other nuts, almonds are an easy snack and can be incorporated into meals, too. Research suggests almonds may have a favorable effect on blood pressure, and are encouraged as part of the DASH diet, too. Almonds contain about 160 calories per ounce, making them a higher calorie snack. When enjoying nuts, ensure you portion appropriately for your energy needs and pair with lower calorie foods, like fruits and vegetables that also have a favorable impact on blood pressure.
This fruit is a source of an important compound called resveratrol. One study found this compound, which contributes to the red pigment of cranberries, is effective at preventing hypertension. This is also true for other red fruits, like strawberries and raspberries. Enjoy cranberries in their fresh form or canned without added sugar.
A tropical fruit known for its natural sweetness, pineapple is another source of potassium. Enjoy on its own, as part of a fruit salad, or in conjunction with your favorite lean protein. Chicken breast and pork tenderloin cooked with pineapple create a protein and potassium-packed meal to aid in lowering blood pressure.
Citrus fruits in general are known for their vitamin C content, and may also benefit blood pressure. Vitamin C is able to boost levels of nitric oxide, a compound thought to reduce blood pressure. As a source of potassium and vitamin C, oranges and other citrus fruits may be able to lower blood pressure. Enjoy freshly peeled or juiced without added sugar.
Another whole grain you may be less familiar with, amaranth may also be able to help lower blood pressure. This whole grain contains fiber, magnesium, and potassium, nutrients that are all recommended as part of the DASH diet. Similar to other grains, amaranth can be prepared in boiling water and incorporated as a side dish or included in your favorite soup.