High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects around half of the adults in the United States. If left uncontrolled, it can lead to a long list of serious medical conditions, like kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke.
If you already have or are at risk of developing high blood pressure, making changes to your diet can be critical in helping to manage your numbers. It's not just about avoiding certain foods but also eating more healthy meals.
We put together this guide to help you know what foods are the best options for controlling your high blood pressure.
What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
Our arteries carry blood from our hearts to other parts of our bodies. The force of the blood pushing against the artery walls is known as blood pressure.
While blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day, someone with hypertension has blood pressure that doesn't come back down to a normal level. Both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology define hypertension as blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg.
Most people never show signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, so this disease is known as the silent killer. It is therefore crucial to have your blood pressure regularly monitored by your physician or healthcare provider.
A high blood pressure diet
Consuming less or eliminating sodium from your diet is essential for fighting hypertension, but eating more of these foods can also help lower blood pressure.
A yummy replacement for salt (remember we need to decrease sodium intake), garlic can reduce the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Garlic is also a natural antifungal and antibiotic food, giving it a ton of other health benefits. So the next time you want to pick up the salt shaker to add some flavor to your omelet, throw in some garlic instead!
Greens like kale, spinach, lettuce, and collard greens are considered superfoods because they are full of nutrients, like potassium and magnesium, which are vital to controlling high blood pressure.
As greens have a lot of versatility, adding them to your diet is as simple as creating a quick salad, blending them into smoothies or sauteing them into soups.
Think salmon, herring, and tuna. Fatty fish is high in omega-3, which has been linked to lower blood pressure numbers and reduced inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation can wreak havoc on your blood vessels, causing heart disease and strokes.
Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all contain flavonoids that have been linked to lowering blood pressure and managing hypertension. So go ahead and add them to your oatmeal and yogurt or as a midday snack.
It's no secret that carrots are full of nutrients. Because carrots are high in phenolic compounds, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium, they relax blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and decrease blood pressure.
While there's no wrong way to consume them, some studies suggest eating raw carrots is more beneficial for hypertension.
Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, contains all the blood pressure-regulating minerals: magnesium, calcium, and potassium. In addition, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are high in compounds that can reduce artery damage, which can occur as a result of high blood pressure.
An apple a day...keeps high blood pressure away! Apples are rich in soluble fiber, polyphenols, and potassium which can help control blood pressure.
Apples are also ideal for losing weight because they tend to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
One study found that those with high blood pressure who drank an eight-ounce glass of beetroot juice a day experienced lower blood pressure (about 10 mm Hg). That's because of nitrate, which keeps blood vessels healthy and helps blood flow.
Beets are also filled with calcium, iron, and potassium, making them great for your heart and digestion health.
Kidney, white, pinto, navy, lima, and black beans are packed with magnesium, potassium, and soluble fiber, making them ideal for lowering blood pressure and promoting a healthy heart.
You may or may not know this, but bananas are a potassium-packed fruit. What's so special about that? Potassium can help lower blood pressure because it works with the kidneys to reduce sodium in the body.
Satisfy that carb craving with sweet potatoes, another food high in potassium. Sweet potatoes also offer a little natural sweetness while being loaded with high blood pressure-fighting nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene.
The fiber found in oatmeal can help lose weight/maintain a healthy weight, preventing obesity, a significant risk factor for hypertension.
Research has shown that oatmeal can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. One study found that the daily consumption of oats beta-glucan (found in oatmeal) for six weeks reduced systolic blood pressure by 7.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 5.5 mm Hg.
Healthy tip: Add in some berries and bananas for maximum heart-healthy, high blood pressure-reducing benefits.
Looking to indulge in something sweet without messing up your heart-healthy diet? Dark chocolate is a great way to treat yourself while possibly lowering your blood pressure. The flavonoids found in dark chocolate produce nitric oxide, which helps blood vessels to relax and widen and increase blood flow.
Just be mindful of how much dark chocolate you consume and consider the amount of fats, sugars, and calories.
What you eat plays a vital role in managing or preventing high blood pressure. Replacing sodium and sugar with foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium is a huge step in creating a healthy, blood-pressure-friendly diet.
By adjusting your diet and making other lifestyle changes, like increasing physical activity, managing stress, and limiting alcohol, you increase your chances of reducing/eliminating the need for blood pressure medications.
Always consult your doctor before stopping or starting any new medications, diet, or exercise.