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101 Foods That Lower Your Blood Pressure

101 Foods That Lower Your Blood Pressure

Changing your diet can become just as effective as taking medications to treat your hypertension. Arguably one of the best things you can do is minimize your salt intake and unhealthy fats. But once you’ve excluded these, what are you left with to eat?

Here are 101 heart healthy foods you can make part of your meals to help lower your blood pressure. 

What Are the Best Foods for High Blood Pressure?

Food has such a major impact on blood pressure that an entire diet was created for people with or at risk for hypertension to follow called the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension).

The DASH diet generally includes healthy eating principles with a focus on many of the choices discussed here, especially fruits, vegetables, fish, and low fat dairy. It also minimizes foods that increase blood pressure such as salt and saturated fats. The DASH diet is widely recommended by healthcare authorities including the AHA and mayo clinic (14).

Eating the right amount in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is also important for blood pressure control and overall health.  

Bottom Line:  A healthy diet and regular exercise can often lead to effective blood pressure control without the need to be dependent on medications.

To get the most out of your heart healthy diet, here are some of the best types of foods for blood pressure:

Beets & Other Nitrate Rich Foods 

Beets contain high levels of something called nitrates (NO3) that clinical trials suggest might be responsible for a beneficial effect on blood pressure. After you eat nitrates they are converted into nitric oxide by the body. Nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels - and thus relieves some of the pressure they're experiencing. Not to mention vegetables like beets are also packed with micronutrients, phytochemicals and other antioxidant goodness. 

How many beets should you be consuming? There’s really not enough evidence to know. However studies that looked at their effect on blood pressure used anywhere between about 1/3rd to 2 cups each day of beetroot juice (70 mL to 500 mL) (1). 

10 Foods Naturally Rich in Nitrates 

  1. Beets
  2. Leafy Greens
  3. Radishes
  4. Turnips
  5. Celery
  6. Onion
  7. Garlic
  8. Watercress
  9. Bok Choy
  10. Carrots 

Bananas & Other Potassium Rich Foods  

Potassium rich foods have been shown to help lower blood pressure, potentially in part by helping battle the bad effects of sodium. Some studies suggest that systolic blood pressure is most influenced by getting enough potassium in your diet.

Bananas are the classic example, but many other food options are potassium rich. 

20 Potassium Packed Items

  1. Salmon
  2. Potatoes
  3. Squash
  4. Mushrooms
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Beans
  7. Avocados
  8. Lentils
  9. Kidney Beans
  10. Apricots
  11. Prunes
  12. Milk
  13. Yogurt
  14. Prunes
  15. Raisins
  16. Nuts
  17. Peas
  18. Tuna
  19. Halibut
  20. Spinach 

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 4,700mg daily of potassium (23). 

It is possible to get too much potassium if it's taken in the form of  supplement, especially in people with chronic kidney disease. So while food sources are usually considered safe, it’s always important to talk to your doctor for specific medical advice before taking any potassium supplements. 

Salmon & Other Omega 3 Rich Foods

The omega 3 fatty acids that are packed into salmon offer a slew of health benefits, including helping to lower blood pressure as well as decreasing the risk of serious heart problems (4, 5).

15 Omega 3 Fatty Acid Options 

  1. Salmon
  2. Chia Seed
  3. Flaxseed
  4. Shrimp
  5. Edamame
  6. Seabass
  7. Lobster
  8. Kidney Beans
  9. Egg
  10. Chicken
  11. Scallops
  12. Cod
  13. Tuna
  14. Tilapia
  15. Oysters

It's recommended that men eat at least 1.6 grams and women eat at least 1.1 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily. 

Your doctor may recommend that you also take omega-3 fatty acid supplements if you have risk factors for heart disease (6). 

Oats & Other Whole Grain Foods 

Whole grains have a lot of scientific support in promoting long term heart health. In fact, some studies have shown that people with diets high in whole grains are more likely to live longer. Other studies support that whole grains may help to decrease the risk of chronic health conditions like diabetes and even some types of cancer. 

Whole grains are unrefined grains that are eaten when they are in their ‘whole form’, meaning they contain all 3 parts of the kernel - the bran, germ and endosperm. The whole grain stamp can make finding them easier in the grocery store (7).  

15 Foods with Whole Grain Goodness

  1. Rice
  2. Oatmeal
  3. Wheat
  4. Maize
  5. Barley
  6. Bulgar
  7. Rice
  8. Quinoa
  9. Spelt
  10. Buckwheat
  11. Millet
  12. Rye
  13. Faro
  14. Popcorn
  15. Whole Flower

In general it’s recommended to eat 2-3 servings of whole grains daily.

Beans & Other Fiber Rich Foods

Foods high in fiber - like beans may also help lower blood pressure. Beans specifically are also rich in potassium, magnesium and other micronutrients.  Eating high fiber foods also helps control both cholesterol and blood glucose levels and has been linked to healthy weight loss (8). 

20 High Fiber Foods

  1. Whole Oats
  2. Rice
  3. Legumes
  4. Quinoa
  5. Almonds
  6. Walnuts
  7. Sesame Seeds
  8. Kale
  9. Apricots
  10. Prunes
  11. Flaxseed
  12. Peas
  13. Barley
  14. Apples
  15. Figs
  16. Cherries
  17. Grapefruit
  18. Blackberries
  19. Kiwi
  20. Beans

The FDA recommends getting at least 25g of fiber each day from food. 

Almonds & Other Magnesium Rich Foods

Some studies suggest that magnesium rich foods may help lower blood pressure. This mineral may accomplish this in a variety of ways, including the promotion of nitric oxide formation as well as combating the bad effects of salt (10, 11).

10 Choices Enriched with Magnesium

  1. Spinach
  2. Cashews
  3. Peanuts
  4. Soymilk
  5. Lowfat Yogurt
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Banana
  8. Milk
  9. Halibut
  10. Avocado 

While more research needs to be done for scientists to figure out the specifics, currently recommended dietary intakes for adults are around 300mg each day of magnesium. 

Yogurt & Other Calcium Rich Foods

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and may help control blood pressure in a variety of ways including helping to dilate blood vessels (12).

Some people theorize that low fat dairy products may independently improve blood pressure to a greater extent than just containing calcium. However, the influence of dairy products on blood pressure is still controversial. Some clinical trials have reported that low-fat dairy foods may reduce your risk of hypertension by as much as 16%. However, other studies don’t show as much of an impact. It’s also unclear if some of the improvements noted are confounded by the correlation of people who choose low-fat products also leading generally healthier lifestyles (13). 

10 Calcium Sources

  1. Yogurt
  2. Milk
  3. Mozarrella
  4. Orange Juice
  5. Cottage Cheese
  6. Tofu
  7. Soymilk
  8. Kale
  9. Turnip Greens
  10. Broccoli

It's recommended that adults get at least 1000 mg of calcium daily.

Flaxseed

Clinical trials on flaxseed have shown promise in helping hypertension. It’s possible these effects are from fiber and other important micronutrients. However it also contains compounds called  α-linolenic acid and lignans that may be beneficial as well. Flaxseed comes in a variety of forms including in an oil, sometimes called linseed oil, ground and in whole seeds (14).

For more tips on how to lower your blood pressure, read this article.