Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) or you’re just doing your research because high blood pressure runs in your family, you should know about the important role diet plays in managing this condition. To prevent and manage high blood pressure, you should not only remove the unhealthy foods causing the problem from your diet, but you can also eat more foods that lower blood pressure.
What is high blood pressure and what are the risk factors?
High blood pressure occurs when the force of the blood moving to and from your heart pushes too hard on your arteries, according to the American Heart Association. According to the CDC, a whopping 75 million Americans—that’s nearly a third of the adult population—struggle with high blood pressure.
Hypertension increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other life-altering health consequences along the way.
There are many factors that contribute to high blood pressure, including stress, smoking, lack of exercise, alcohol, age, genetics, and diet.
How does diet play a role in managing high blood pressure?
An unhealthy diet that’s high in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar may increase your risk of high blood pressure. These nutrients contribute to hypertension in a variety of ways. For example, saturated fat increases cholesterol levels, including “bad” LDL cholesterol, that can block your arteries and slow blood flow.
While it’s important to minimize these nutrients in your diet to decrease your risk of or manage your high blood pressure, it’s also important to eat more foods that lower blood pressure.
Foods that lower blood pressure contain specific nutrients that are scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure. These nutrients include:
• beta-carotene (vitamin A)
• omega-3 fatty acids
• vitamin C
While the words “blood pressure-lowering diet” may conjure images of unseasoned egg whites and limp steamed veggies, getting your blood pressure into a healthy range is more than just doable—it can be downright delicious.
Here is a list of the 20 healthiest foods that lower blood pressure. And for a more structured eating plan, consider trying the DASH Diet or “The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” Diet. This expert-approved, heart-healthy diet is one of the top-recommended diets to lower blood pressure.
Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite sweet treats just because you’re trying to lower your blood pressure. Mangoes are a great source of fiber and beta-carotene, both of which are proven to lower blood pressure. In fact, research published in Current Hypertension Reports suggests that adding beta-carotene-rich foods to your diet may be an effective way to lower blood pressure in no time.
Not a fan of raw mangoes? Try freezing and blending them for a tasty homemade sorbet that’s perfect for those hot summer days.
While fatty foods may seem like they have no place in a high blood pressure-fighting meal plan, fatty fish like salmon are a major exception to that rule. Salmon is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help reduce inflammation, lower risk of heart disease, and lower blood pressure into a healthy range. Research published in the June 2012 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that omega-3 supplementation reduced blood pressure among older patients and those with hypertension, making this tasty protein-rich fish a must-eat for anyone whose blood pressure has crept into a concerning range.
3. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C (even more than citrus fruits), which has been shown to improve cardiac function and lower blood pressure. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that loading up on vitamin C reduced blood pressure by 5 millimeters of mercury in patients with hypertension, making these versatile veggies a smart addition to any meal plan.
Slash your blood pressure and lower your risk of chronic disease by making apricots a staple in your diet today. Whether you’re eating dried apricots as a snack or adding some to your weight loss smoothie recipe, these fruits are the key to healthier blood pressure. Apricots contain vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Even better is the 3.3 grams of dietary fiber you’ll get per cup of apricots. Why is that? Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that a high-fiber diet can significantly lower your blood pressure, too.