The food on your plate influences the numbers on your blood pressure monitor. And some foods are far more effective at managing high blood pressure than others. Eat your way to lower blood pressure with these high blood pressure foods.
Nine out of 10 Canadians will develop high blood pressure in their lifetimes. You don’t have to be one of them. While high blood pressure is the number-one modifiable risk factor for disease and death in the world, the key emphasis should be on the word “modifiable.”
Modify your diet to lower your blood pressure naturally. Researchers have identified ten high blood pressure foods that are especially effective for hypertension.
Citrus fruits are very high in flavonoids—a type of antioxidant—and citric acid.
Both compounds lower your blood pressure. In one study, people who drank lemon juice every day significantly reduced their blood pressure numbers over the course of five months.
Squeeze some lemon juice into your water or tea. Better yet, eat citrus fruits whole for a bonus dose of fibre as fibre also helps you to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of all commonly eaten foods. And when it comes to antioxidants, blueberries are right near the top.
Blueberries are exceptionally high in a specific antioxidant compound known as anthocyanin, which gives the fruit its trademark hue.
In a 14-year-long study monitoring nearly 40,000 people, those who had the highest dietary intake of anthocyanin from blueberries saw the most significant improvements in their blood pressure.
Beets and beet juice
If your blood pressure is in the red, these red vegetables can put your numbers back in the black!
Researchers have found that eating cooked beets and drinking beet juice every day can significantly lower your blood pressure within two weeks.
The improvements in blood pressure may be due to the high nitrate content in these root vegetables. Dietary nitrates dilate (i.e., widen) your blood vessels and have wide-ranging cardiovascular health benefits.
Numerous studies have linked the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods with improvements in blood pressure numbers, especially in people who already have hypertension.
One hypothesis is that your gut bacteria produce molecules that impact your cardiovascular system.
Healthy, delicious, fermented foods to try include:
- Dairy- or plant-based yogurt or kefir
- Tempeh, miso, natto and other fermented soy products
- Kombucha tea
- Sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables
You may also want to consider taking a daily probiotic supplement.
You can have your whole-grain cake and eat it too.
Whole grains are nutrient-dense, especially when it comes to heart-healthy substances like fibre and essential phytochemicals.
Not only does a diet rich in whole grains boost your overall cardiovascular health, but eating more whole grains can improve your blood pressure numbers in as little as four weeks.
Aim for at least three servings of whole grains a day. Examples of a single serving include:
- 1/2 cup of oatmeal
- 1 slice of bread
- 1/2 cup brown rice
If you need an excuse for an extra serving of guacamole, this is it!
Avocados are one of the best sources of monounsaturated fats. This type of fat can lower high blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure.
A single avocado also has more than 10 grams of blood pressure-reducing fibre.
One study analyzed more than 17,000 people. It found that those who ate the most avocados had the lowest risks of metabolic syndrome (health conditions—including high blood pressure and high blood sugar—that raise your chance of having diabetes, heart disease, etc.).
Numerous studies have discovered that people who eat diets that are high in omega-3 fats have lower numbers for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
These effects may be because omega-3 fats contain compounds that relax your blood vessels and minimize chronic inflammation.
Some of the best sources of omega-3s include:
- Marine algae oil (ideal if you’re plant-based)
Arginine is a vital amino acid that your body needs to produce blood pressure-reducing nitric oxide.
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best dietary sources of arginine. Eat them whole, take in a supplement, or cook with cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil.
One study found that taking pumpkin seed oil for six weeks led to a significant reduction in blood pressure.
Dark green, leafy greens
Kale, spinach, chard, and similar leafy greens are some of the richest sources of magnesium. This essential mineral plays a role in regulating your blood sugar and your blood pressure.
One meta-analysis of nearly three dozen studies found that higher magnesium intake correlated with lower high blood pressure.
Plus, magnesium helps you handle stress better, and it even reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Chronic stress and unmanaged cortisol levels raise your blood pressure.
According to numerous studies, eating more beans instead of other starches in your diet can significantly improve your blood pressure.
Researchers believe this is due to the high mineral content and high fibre content found in most beans.
Try swapping out starchy side dishes, such as potatoes or white rice, for beans and legumes.
A recipe for lower blood pressure
Add the high blood pressure foods discussed throughout into your weekly meals to support healthier blood pressure.
And don’t forget to avoid foods that actually trigger high blood pressure, including:
- Foods high in saturated fat
- Processed foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
- Foods that are very high in salt
For the best results, pair these healthy food ideas with an overall heart-healthy diet (the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet are two well-researched diets that promote healthy blood pressure numbers).
With every bite, you give your body the nutrition it needs to manage your blood pressure better.