High blood pressure is extremely common, affecting more than 100 million Americans according to the American Heart Association. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean you should take it lightly. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be deadly — and the death rates from hypertension are rising.
There are certain things you can do to keep your blood pressure down and prevent it from rising higher. Many preventative actions related to hypertension are related to lifestyle habits — exercising, for instance, and abstaining from cigarettes. Changing your diet is also one of the more impactful preventative measures you can take.
Certain foods and drinks are dangerous for your blood pressure — eating too much of them can increase your risk over time. Other foods, though, can have the opposite effect. Here are 19 foods that could actually help lower your blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends eating foods rich with potassium in order to assist in lowering blood pressure. This is due to potassium’s effect on sodium — eating potassium can help to lessen sodium’s potentially harmful effects. All kinds of foods contain potassium, many of which are fruits and vegetables. A cup of dried apricots contains around one-third of your daily recommended potassium intake, around 1,511 milligrams. A cup of fresh apricot slices contains around 427 milligrams of potassium. Apricots also contain lots of vitamin C and fiber, both of which are beneficial to your heart health.
Bananas are one of many foods you can add to your diet to include more potassium. A study published in the journal Medical Science showed that eating more bananas significantly reduced blood pressure in study participants. Try eating a banana with peanut butter for a healthy mid-afternoon snack or slicing a banana on top of your oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast.
A study published in Nutrition Journal showed that beet juice significantly lowered blood pressure among health men and women just six hours after drinking it. Beet juice contains a lot of sugar, so you probably won’t want to drink it all the time — though you shouldn’t be afraid of the sugar in healthy fruits and vegetables. But if you want a more versatile way to add this vegetable into your diet, try cooking a recipe with beets. They can be delicious!
Strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits are rich with antioxidants called flavonoids. These compounds can help stave off cancer and other conditions including high blood pressure. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the addition of berries to their diets reduced the risk of high blood pressure in hypertensive adults by around 8 percent.
It may sound too good to be true, but eating chocolate is actually healthy. Your heart will thank you. According to a meta-analysis published in BMC Medicine, consuming dark chocolate or cocoa products — which are both rich with antioxidants called flavonoids — resulted in a decreased blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and hypertensive individuals. That’s not the only benefit dark chocolate has to offer. There are many reasons you shouldn’t feel badly about eating it every day.
This cozy winter spice is the perfect thing to add to a bowl of oatmeal, a sweet baked dessert, or even your lattes — it contains antioxidants that are probably responsible for some of its health benefits. An analysis of studies showed that cinnamon could decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the short-term in patients with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
Certain types of fish, including salmon and sardines, are dense with healthy fats. Opting for these fattier fish over leaner white fish every now and then may be a good idea. The American Heart Association advises eating two servings of fatty fish each week, in part due to its role in reducing blood pressure.
Fermented foods, including foods such as kimchi and Greek yogurt, contain probiotics, a type of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Adding probiotics to your diet can do more than just aid in digestion — according to a review of studies published in the journal Hypertension, probiotics can have a modest but beneficial effect on blood pressure. You don’t have to take an expensive pill or drink tons of kombucha to add more probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are contained in many common foods and drinks.
Flaxseed may not be No. 1 on your list of favorite foods, but you should consider supplementing your diet with it somehow. Not only is it one of the best foods you can eat for your heart, but it may also help reduce your blood pressure. According to one study, adding flaxseed to their diets helped lower patients’ systolic blood pressure over a period of just six months.
Not only is cooking with garlic a great way to add flavor to your food without relying on salt, but it also provides other health benefits. One study showed that in patients with high blood pressure, adding garlic to their diets helped lower their systolic blood pressure over time. Other studies show similar results, suggesting that taking a garlic supplement or getting more of it in your diet some other way could help.
According to a 2010 study, Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (an ingredient found in herbal tea blends) proved to have antioxidant and antihypertensive properties. The authors found that daily consumption of hibiscus tea lowered blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults, making it one of the best teas for your blood pressure and heart health.
Kiwis actually have more vitamin C than oranges — plus, they’re delicious. Add some kiwi to your fruit salads or snack on them on their own to help keep your blood pressure down. A study published in the journal Blood Pressure showed that in patients with moderately elevated blood pressure, eating three kiwis a day helped lower blood pressure more than eating one apple did. Eating an apple a day is a good idea for other reasons, but kiwi is probably better for your blood pressure.
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has a myriad of health benefits, many of which relate to your heart. According to a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, adding olive oil to their diets effectively reduced systolic blood pressure in elderly patients with hypertension. Learn to cook with it the right way to get the most flavor out of your olive oil — but no matter how you use it, it’s going to be good for you!
Looking for a healthy snack to keep at your desk? Try munching on a serving or two of pistachios. The healthy fats in pistachios will help keep your brain sharp — and they’re good for your blood pressure, too. A study in the journal Hypertension showed that study participants with high blood pressure experienced a decrease in blood pressure after eating a serving of pistachios during the day.
Pomegranate seeds may be small, but they pack a serious nutritional punch. The juice from the seeds is rich with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that has many benefits, including helping to prevent cancer. A review of studies showed that pomegranate juice could effectively lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure over time, even when consumed in small amounts. So just add a serving or two of the fruit into your day and you’ll reap the benefits!
According to a report from the American College of Cardiology, eating raisins could be an effective way to lower blood pressure. Researchers suggest that the correlation could be caused by raisin’s large amount of potassium. Add some to a homemade trail mix or eat them plain for a heart-healthy snack!
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a nutrient that could be beneficial for lowering your cholesterol, preventing skin damage, and decreasing your blood pressure. A study published in the journal Nutrients suggests that adding lycopene to your diet could help significantly reduce blood pressure. Add tomatoes to your salad, roast tomatoes alongside other vegetables at dinner, or try cooking with tomatoes in a tasty new recipe.
Here’s something to keep in mind the next time you buy a loaf of bread. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when compared to people who ate white bread, people who ate whole-wheat bread showed a reduction in blood pressure overall. Whole grains, including those found in other sources such as rice, oats, and barley, can also have a beneficial effect on cholesterol and provide lots of fiber. Whole grains have been linked to cancer prevention, too — just like these other 50 foods.
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