Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, affects millions of people around the world. Upon diagnosis, most believe that medication is the best or only way to control and maintain their blood pressure, but evidence suggests that dietary changes can also be effective. Below are seven of the best foods to eat for high blood pressure.
CopilotIQ can help you manage your hypertension through regular monitoring and helpful advice, but if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important to take your medications as prescribed and speak with your physician before making any major changes to your diet.
What are the Best Foods for High Blood Pressure?
The best foods for lowering and maintaining your blood pressure are those that contain specific ingredients such as potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, fiber, probiotics, and more. There are hundreds of healthy food choices available, but the seven below are rich in these blood pressure-lowering compounds.
Bananas are often called Mother Nature’s perfect food. They are perfectly sweet, and they even come in their own wrapper. They are believed to contribute to healthy blood pressure thanks to their high potassium content, and while they won’t lower your blood pressure on their own, they can certainly help you get more potassium into your diet in a delicious and nutritious way. Potassium is known to relax the walls of the blood vessels and balance the sodium in your diet, both of which lower your blood pressure.
Try adding bananas to a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grain cereal or put them on a peanut butter sandwich made with whole grain bread. Of course, bananas are also delicious all on their own, and they make a phenomenal snack.
Blueberries are another of the best foods for high blood pressure. A 2019 study published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences noted that just 200 grams of blueberries a day added to a healthy diet was enough to decrease systolic blood pressure by five millimeters of mercury after a month of daily consumption. Similarly, blood vessel dilation improved by 2% within just two hours of consuming the blueberries.
Blueberries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which are the chemicals that give them their color. If you are genetically predisposed to hypertension, adding blueberries to your diet now may even help you avoid high blood pressure later. They can be eaten in your favorite cereals, enjoyed as part of a healthy fruit salad, or consumed on their own.
Many people diagnosed with high blood pressure may think that their days of eating chocolate are over, but the truth is that dark chocolate is one of the best foods to eat for high blood pressure. A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming a small square of dark chocolate each day significantly lowered insulin resistance and reduced systolic blood pressures by an average of five millimeters of mercury. According to the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), a Harvard study of 1,106 people found that a small square of dark chocolate consumed daily lowered every participant’s blood pressure.
While all chocolates made with cocoa contain flavonoids, dark chocolate contains as much as 60 milligrams of catechin – a powerful flavonoid – in every 100 grams. When choosing a chocolate bar, aim for at least 70% cacao and as little sugar as possible, and consume only a small amount each day.
According to the Mayo Clinic, eating more whole grain food could lower the risk of developing hypertension in the first place, and it’s a great option for people who are looking to eat healthier after a high blood pressure diagnosis. Whole grains are a wealth of nutrients, including things like potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, and, of course, dietary fiber. These foods can decrease insulin resistance, increase your body’s potassium levels, and even help minimize damage to blood vessels.
As of 2023, the MyPlate website from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends at least three ounces of whole grains daily, which can be achieved by replacing half of your daily grain consumption with whole grains.
Beets – especially the deep purple and red varieties – contain a vast amount of betalains, which is a natural pigment found in plants that provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are also high in nitrates, which have been shown to open blood vessels, and they are a fantastic source of potassium, which is another heart-healthy vitamin that should be part of everyone’s diet. The Cleveland Clinic notes that they are one of the most underrated and underutilized health foods available today.
Beets can be tricky for the uninitiated, and the easiest way to add them to your diet is to simply open a can. Fresh beets are another fine option, especially when they are roasted in the oven or sliced into thin chips and baked. If none of these sound appetizing, try a glass of beet juice, instead.
Back in 2016, Medical News Today published an article covering that year’s American Heart Association (AHA) Epidemiology/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions held in Phoenix, Arizona. Researchers in attendance presented a study showing that women who consumed at least five servings of yogurt a week had a much lower risk of developing high blood pressure – as much as 20% lower, in fact. A more recent 2021 article published by ScienceDaily backed this claim, saying that even small amounts of yogurt consumed over time could reduce blood pressure by as much as seven millimeters of mercury.
Yogurt is a concentrated dairy product that contains several micronutrients that are essential for healthy blood pressure, including magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It can be added to cereals or smoothies, or it can be consumed as is. Greek yogurt is an especially powerful food thanks to its high protein, low fat nature.
Many varieties of nuts are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, making them some of the best foods for high blood pressure. Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, plant sterols, L-arginine, and many other blood pressure-lowering compounds. An article published in Hypertension in 2012 noted that pistachios were especially good at lowering systolic blood pressure in adults with dyslipidemia, and a review of 21 clinical trials found that virtually all nuts – including hazelnuts and other tree nuts, peanuts, and even soy nuts – could help lower blood pressure.
Because nuts are high in calories and fat, they must be consumed in moderation, and unsweetened varieties are always the better choice. Look for almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios for the best benefits, and be sure to monitor portion sizes closely.
Being diagnosed with hypertension can be intimidating and overwhelming, but you don’t have to go it alone. CopilotIQ offers state-of-the-art telemetry monitoring services that are covered by most insurance plans, and we continue to offer heart-healthy information that can help you live your life to the fullest. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your blood pressure.