What is hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pres-
sure, refers to the pressure of blood
against your artery walls. Over time,
high blood pressure can cause blood
vessel damage that leads to heart dis-
ease, kidney disease, stroke, and other
problems. Hypertension is sometimes
called the silent killer because it pro-
duces no symptoms and can go unno-
ticed — and untreated — for years.
Many risk factors for high blood
pressure are out of your control, such
as age, family history, gender, and race.
But there are also factors you can con-
trol, such as exercise and diet. A diet
that can help control blood pressure
is rich in potassium, magnesium, and
fiber and lower in sodium.
Below are 13 foods that
help lower blood pressure:
- Leafy greens
Potassium helps your kidneys get rid
of more sodium through your urine.
This in turn lowers your blood pres-
Leafy greens, which are high in po-
Canned vegetables often have added
sodium. But frozen vegetables contain
as many nutrients as fresh vegetables,
and they’re easier to store. You can
also blend these veggies with bananas
and nut milk for a healthy, sweet green
Berries, especially blueberries, are
rich in natural compounds called
flavonoids. One studyfound that
consuming these compounds might
prevent hypertension and help lower
blood pressure. Blueberries, raspber-
ries, and strawberries are easy to add
to your diet. You can put them on
your cereal or granola in the morning,
or keep frozen berries on hand for a
quick and healthy dessert.
- Red beets
Beets are high in nitric oxide, which
can help open your blood vessels and
lower blood pressure. Researchers also
found that the nitrates in beetroot
juice lowered research participants’
blood pressure within just 24 hours.
You can juice your own beets or
simply cook and eat the whole root.
Beetroot is delicious when roasted or
added to stir-fries and stews. You can
also bake them into chips. Be careful
when handling beets — the juice can
stain your hands and clothes.
- Skim milk and yogurt
Skim milk is an excellent source of
calcium and is low in fat. These are
both important elements of a diet for
lowering blood pressure. You can also
opt for yogurt if you don’t like milk.
According to the American Heart
Association, women who ate five or
more servings of yogurt a week ex-
perienced a 20 percent reduction in
their risk for developing high blood
Try incorporating granola, al-
mond slivers, and fruits into your
yogurt for extra heart-healthy ben-
efits. When buying yogurt, be sure to
check for added sugar. The lower the
sugar quantity per serving, the better.
Oatmeal fits the bill for a high-fiber,
low-fat, and low-sodium way to lower
your blood pressure. Eating oatmeal
for breakfast is a great way to fuel up
for the day. Overnight oats are a pop-
ular breakfast option. To make them,
soak 1/2 cup of rolled oats and 1/2 cup
of nut milk in a jar. In the morning,
stir and add berries, granola, and cin-
namon to taste.
Eating foods that are rich in potassi-
um is better than taking supplements.
Slice a banana into your cereal or oat-
meal for a potassium-rich addition.
You can also take one to go along with
a boiled egg for a quick breakfast or
- Salmon, mackerel, and fish
Fish are a great source of lean pro-
tein. Fatty fish like mackerel and salm-
on are high in omega-3 fatty acids,
which can lower blood pressure,
reduce inflammation, and low-
er triglycerides. In addition
to these fish sources,
trout contains vita-
m i n
Foods rarely contain vitamin D, and
this hormone-like vitamin has prop-
erties that can lower blood pressure.
One benefit of preparing fish is that it’s
easy to flavor and cook. To try it, place
a fillet of salmon in parchment paper
and season with herbs, lemon, and
olive oil. Bake the fish in a preheated
oven at 450°F for 12-15 minutes.
Unsalted seeds are high in potassi-
um, magnesium, and other miner-
als known to reduce blood pressure.
Enjoy 1⁄4 cup of sunflower, pumpkin,
or squash seeds as a snack between
- Garlic and herbs
Garlic can help reduce hypertension
by increasing the amount of nitric ox-
ide in the body. Nitric oxide helps pro-
mote vasodilation, or the widening of
arteries, to reduce blood pressure. In-
corporating flavorful herbs and spices
into your daily diet can also help you
cut back on your salt intake. Exam-
ples of herbs and spices you can add
include basil, cinnamon, thyme, rose-
mary, and more.
- Dark chocolate
A 2015 study found that eating dark
chocolate is associated
with a lower risk for
(CVD). The study suggests that up to
100 grams per day of dark chocolate
may be associated with a lower risk of
CVD. Dark chocolate contains more
than 60 percent cocoa solids and has
less sugar than regular chocolate. You
can add dark chocolate to yogurt or
eat it with fruits, such as strawber-
ries, blueberries, or raspberries, as a
Pistachios are a healthy way to de-
crease blood pressure by reducing pe-
ripheral vascular resistance, or blood
vessel tightening, and heart rate. One
study found that a diet with one serv-
ing of pistachios a day helps reduce
blood pressure. You can incorporate
pistachios into your diet by adding
them to crusts, pesto sauces, and sal-
ads, or by eating them plain as a snack.
- Olive oil
Olive oil is an example of a healthy
fat. It contains polyphenols, which are
that can help reduce blood pressure.
Olive oil can help you meet your two
to three daily servings of fat as part of
the DASH diet (see below for more
about this diet). It’s also a great alter-
native to canola oil, butter, or com-
mercial salad dressing.
Pomegranates are a healthy fruit that
you can enjoy raw or as a juice. One
study concluded that drinking a cup of
pomegranate juice once a day for four
weeks helps lower blood pressure over
the short term. Pomegranate juice is
tasty with a healthy breakfast. Be sure
to check the sugar content in store-
bought juices, as the added sugars
can negate the health benefits.