18 foods that help lower blood pressure
Many researchers have found that certain foods can lower high blood pressure. We look at some foods that may help and how to incorporate them into the diet.
In general, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers a serving to be:
- 1 cup of cooked or raw vegetables or fruit
- 1 cup of 100% fruit juice
- 2 cups of raw leafy salad greens
- half a cup of dried fruit
For most ages, the USDA recommends consuming around 2 cups of fruit per day and 3 cups of vegetables per day, although this varies slightly according to age and sex.
Blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid.
In one older study, the researchers looked at data for over 34,000 people with hypertension over 14 years. Those with the highest intake of anthocyanins — mainly from blueberries and strawberries — had an 8%Trusted Source lower risk of high blood pressure than those with a low anthocyanin intake.
However, some expertsTrusted Source say there is not enough evidence that blueberries reduce blood pressure.
To enjoy berries:
- eat them as a snack or sweet treat after meals
- add them to smoothies
- sprinkle them on oatmeal for breakfast
A serving of blueberries is around 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or half a cup of dried blueberries. A serving of strawberries is around 7 strawberries.
Which other foods are rich in antioxidants?
Bananas contain potassium, which can help manage hypertension. One medium-sized banana contains around 422 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source of potassium.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source, potassium reduces the effects of sodium and alleviates tension in the walls of the blood vessels.
The Office of Dietary Supplements advises that males aim to consume 3,400 mgTrusted Source of potassium daily and females — 2,600 mg.
Other potassium-rich foods include:
People with kidney disease should consult a doctor before increasing their intake of potassium, as too much can be harmful.
A serving would be 1 large banana, 1 cup of sliced banana, or two-thirds of a cup of mashed banana.
Drinking beet juice may reduce blood pressure in the short and long term, because it contains dietary nitrate.
A 2015 studyTrusted Source found that people with hypertension who drank 250 milliliters (ml), or about 1 cup, of red beet juice every day for 4 weeks had lower blood pressure. The researchers recorded an average fall in blood pressure of 7.7/5.2 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) over a 24-hour period.
Tips for use include:
- drinking 1 glass of beet juice per day
- adding beets to salads
- preparing beets as a side dish
A serving of beet is around 1 cup, which is around 2 small beets or 1 large one.
4. Dark chocolate
Cacao, an ingredient in dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, an antioxidant. Flavonoids may help reduce blood pressure, according to the AHATrusted Source.
However, it notes that a person may not be able to consume enough flavonoids in dark chocolate for it to have significant benefits.
The AHA says that a small amount of chocolate from time to time can be part of a balanced diet. It advises, however, that people eat it because they enjoy it, not for health reasons.
A daily serving of kiwi can help manage mildly high blood pressure, a 2015 studyTrusted Source suggests.
People who ate 3 kiwis per day for 8 weeks saw a more significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those who ate 1 apple per day for the same period. The study authors note that this may be due to the bioactive substances in kiwis.
Kiwis are also rich in vitamin C. In an older studyTrusted Source, people who consumed around 500 mg of vitamin C per day for about 8 weeks saw significant improvements in their blood pressure readings.
Kiwis are easy to add to lunches or smoothies. One cup of kiwi, or 2–3 kiwifruits, makes up 1 serving.
Which other foods contain vitamin C?
Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline.
The body converts citrulline to arginine, and this helps the body produce nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes blood vessels and encourages flexibility in arteries. These effects aid the flow of blood, which can lower high blood pressure.
In one older study, adults with obesity and mild or prehypertension took watermelon extract containing 6 grams (g) of L-citrulline/L-arginine.
After 6 weeks, the participants saw a reduction in blood pressure in the ankles and brachial arteries. The brachial artery is the main artery in the upper arm.
In a small 2019 studyTrusted Source, 27 people consumed either watermelon juice or another drink before exercise. The females who drank watermelon juice did not experience a rise in blood pressure after exercise, although the males did.
People can consume watermelon:
- as juice
- in salads, including fruit salads
- in smoothies
- in a chilled watermelon soup
One serving of watermelon is 1 cup of chopped fruit or 1 slice of around 2 inches.
Oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which may have benefitsTrusted Source for heart health, including blood pressure.
A 2020 rodent studyTrusted Source found that beta-glucan and avenanthramide C, both present in oats, reduce levels of malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress in hypertensive rats. These results suggest that ingredients present in oats can help prevent high blood pressure and protect heart health in other ways.
Ways of eating oats include:
- having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast
- using rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs to give texture to burger patties
- sprinkling them on yogurt desserts
8. Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in nitrates, which help manage blood pressure.
Some researchTrusted Source suggests that eating at least 1 cup of green leafy vegetables per day can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Examples of leafy greens include:
To consume a daily dose of green vegetables, a person can:
- stir spinach into curries and stews
- saute Swiss chard with garlic as a side dish
- bake a batch of kale chips
A serving of spinach is 2 cups of fresh leaves. A serving of raw cabbage is 1 cup.
Garlic has antibiotic and antifungal properties, many of which may be due to its main active ingredient, allicin.
A 2020 reviewTrusted Source concludes that garlic in general, and specifically Kyolic garlic, can reduce:
- blood pressure
- arterial stiffness
Garlic can enhance the flavor of many savory meals, including stir-fries, soups, and omelets. It can also be an alternative to salt as a flavoring.
10. Fermented foods
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that may help manageTrusted Source blood pressure.
In 2020Trusted Source, researchers analyzed data for 11,566 adults aged 50 years or older in Korea. The results suggest that women who had gone through menopause and ate fermented soy foods had a lower risk of hypertension. However, this did not appear to be true for men.
Sodium is a risk factor for high blood pressure, and experts advise people to limit their salt intake. However, a 2017 study did not find that eating salt-fermented vegetables increased the risk of high blood pressure, despite the high sodium content.
The effects of probiotics on blood pressure appeared more beneficial when the participants consumed:
- multiple species of probiotic bacteria
- probiotics regularly for more than 8 weeks
- at least 100 billion colony-forming units per day
Fermented foods to add to the diet include:
Probiotic supplements are another option.
11. Lentils and other pulses
Lentils provide protein and fiber, and expertsTrusted Source say they can benefit the blood vessels of people with hypertension.
The authors of an older studyTrusted Source analyzed the effects of a pulse-rich diet on rats. The rats consumed a diet that was 30% pulses, including beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. Consuming pulses appeared to decrease levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.
A 2014 reviewTrusted Source of human trials, with a total of 554 participants, found that consuming pulses may lower blood pressure in people with and without hypertension. However, the authors note that more studies are necessary.
People can use lentils in many ways, including:
- as an alternative to minced beef
- adding bulk to salads
- as a base for stews and soups
12. Natural yogurt
Yogurt is fermented dairy food.
A 2021 studyTrusted Source looked at data for people with and without high blood pressure to see whether there was a link between fermented dairy products and hypertension.
The participants with high blood pressure who consumed more yogurt had lower systolic blood pressure and lower arterial pressure than those who did not.
To enjoy unsweetened yogurt:
- add 1 spoonful to a plate of stew or curry
- mix with chopped cucumber, mint, and garlic as a side dish
- use it instead of cream on fruit and desserts
- spoon it onto a combination of oatmeal, nuts, and dried fruit for breakfast
Pomegranates contain antioxidants and other ingredients that may help preventTrusted Source high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
An older study from 2012Trusted Source provides evidence that drinking 1 cup of pomegranate juice daily for 28 days may lower high blood pressure in the short term.
A 2017 reviewTrusted Source of eight human trials found evidence that consuming pomegranate juice consistently lowered blood pressure.
People can consume pomegranates whole or as juice. When buying prepackaged pomegranate juice, check to ensure that there is no added sugar.
Cinnamon may help reduce blood pressure, according to a 2020 reviewTrusted Source. The authors found that consuming up to 2 g of cinnamon per day for 8 weeks or more reduced blood pressure in people with a body mass index of 30 or more.
To incorporate cinnamon into the diet, a person can:
- add it to oatmeal as an alternative to sugar
- sprinkle it on freshly chopped fruit
- add it to smoothies
Several studies have found that eating nuts of various types can help manage hypertension.
A 2016 reviewTrusted Source notes that walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios all appear to improve endothelial function, which can benefit blood pressure and heart health.
Opt for unsalted nuts and:
- snack on them plain
- add them to salads
- blend them into pestos
- use them in main dishes, such as nut roast
People should not consume nuts if they have a nut allergy.
16. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits contain hesperidin, an antioxidant that may benefit heart health.
In a 2021 studyTrusted Source, 159 people consumed 500 ml of orange juice, hesperidin-enriched orange juice, or a control drink per day for 12 weeks.
The results indicate that regularly consuming orange juice can help lower systolic blood pressure and that hesperidin contributes to this effect.
People can consume citrus fruits:
- as drinks, for example, by making orange juice or squeezing lemon into water
- whole or in fruit salads, in the case of oranges and grapefruit
- as lemon juice, squeezed on salads for flavor instead of salt
17. Oily fish
The AHA recommends consuming 2 servingsTrusted Source of 3 ounces (oz) of oily fish per week, as it may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
ResearchTrusted Source also suggests that eating oily fish may help lower blood pressure. In 2016, people with high systolic blood pressure saw significant improvements in their readings after consuming 0.7 g per day of supplements of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid fish oil for 8 weeks.
Examples of oily fish are:
- albacore tuna
Some fish contain mercury, and people should check the latest Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source guidelines. They can also visit this website to check which fish is currently sustainable.
18. Tomato extract
Tomato contains lycopene, an antioxidant that may be beneficial for heart health.
A 2021 reviewTrusted Source found that consuming tomato extract can significantly lower systolic blood pressure in people with or without hypertension. However, including tomatoes in the diet did not produce the same results.
Other researchersTrusted Source have found that high doses of lycopene reduced systolic blood pressure, while lower levels did not.
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