15 Foods That Are Good for High Blood Pressure/Hypertension or high blood pressure, refers to the pressure of blood against your artery walls. Over time, high blood pressure can cause blood vessel damage that leads to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other problems. Hypertension is sometimes called the silent killer because it produces no symptoms and can go unnoticed — and untreated — for years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source (CDC), an estimated 75 million Americans have high blood pressure. Many risk factors for high blood pressure are out of your control, such as age, family history, gender, and race. But there are also factors you can control, such as exercise and diet. A diet that can help control blood pressure is rich in potassium, magnesium, and fiber and lower in sodium.
15 foods that help lower blood pressure
1. Leafy greens
Potassium helps your kidneys get rid of more sodium through your urine. This in turn lowers your blood pressure.
Leafy greens, which are high in potassium, include:
- romaine lettuce
- turnip greens
- collard greens
- beet greens
- Swiss chard
Canned vegetables often have added sodium. But frozen vegetables contain as many nutrients as fresh vegetables, and they’re easier to store. You can also blend these veggies with bananas and nut milk for a healthy, sweet green juice.
Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids. One study found that consuming these compounds might prevent hypertension and help lower blood pressure.
Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are easy to add to your diet. You can put them on your cereal or granola in the morning, or keep frozen berries on hand for a quick and healthy dessert.
3. Red beets
Beets are high in nitric oxide, which can help open your blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Researchers also found that the nitrates in beetroot juice lowered research participants’ blood pressure within just 24 hours.
You can juice your own beets or simply cook and eat the whole root. Beetroot is delicious when roasted or added to stir-fries and stews. You can also bake them into chips. Be careful when handling beets — the juice can stain your hands and clothes.
4. Skim milk and yogurt
Skim milk is an excellent source of calcium and is low in fat. These are both important elements of a diet for lowering blood pressure. You can also opt for yogurt if you don’t like milk.
According to the American Heart Association, women who ate five or more servings of yogurt a week experienced a 20 percent reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure.
Try incorporating granola, almond slivers, and fruits into your yogurt for extra heart-healthy benefits. When buying yogurt, be sure to check for added sugar. The lower the sugar quantity per serving, the better.
Oatmeal fits the bill for a high-fiber, low-fat, and low-sodium way to lower your blood pressure. Eating oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to fuel up for the day.
Overnight oats are a popular breakfast option. To make them, soak 1/2 cup of rolled oats and 1/2 cup of nut milk in a jar. In the morning, stir and add berries, granola, and cinnamon to taste.
Eating foods that are rich in potassium is better than taking supplements. Slice a banana into your cereal or oatmeal for a potassium-rich addition. You can also take one to go along with a boiled egg for a quick breakfast or snack.
7. Salmon, mackerel, and fish with omega-3s
Fish are a great source of lean protein. Fatty fish like mackerel and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower triglycerides. In addition to these fish sources, trout contains vitamin D. Foods rarely contain vitamin D, and this hormone-like vitamin has properties that can lower blood pressure.
One benefit of preparing fish is that it’s easy to flavor and cook. To try it, place a fillet of salmon in parchment paper and season with herbs, lemon, and olive oil. Bake the fish in a preheated oven at 450°F for 12-15 minutes.
Unsalted seeds are high in potassium, magnesium, and other minerals known to reduce blood pressure. Enjoy ¼ cup of sunflower, pumpkin, or squash seeds as a snack between meals.
9. Garlic and herbs
One review[rx] notes that garlic can help reduce hypertension by increasing the amount of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps promote vasodilation, or the widening of arteries, to reduce blood pressure.
Incorporating flavorful herbs and spices into your daily diet can also help you cut back on your salt intake. Examples of herbs and spices you can add include basil, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, and more.
10. Dark chocolate
A 2015 study found that eating dark chocolate is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The study suggests that up to 100 grams per day of dark chocolate may be associated with a lower risk of CVD.
Dark chocolate contains more than 60 percent cocoa solids and has less sugar than regular chocolate. You can add dark chocolate to yogurt or eat it with fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, as a healthy dessert.
Pistachios are a healthy way to decrease blood pressure by reducing peripheral vascular resistance, or blood vessel tightening, and heart rate. One study[rx] found that a diet with one serving of pistachios a day helps reduce blood pressure.
You can incorporate pistachios into your diet by adding them to crusts, pesto sauces, and salads, or by eating them plain as a snack.
12. Olive oil
Olive oil is an example of healthy fat. It contains polyphenols, which are inflammation-fighting compounds that can help reduce blood pressure.
Olive oil can help you meet your two to three daily servings of fat as part of the DASH diet (see below for more about this diet). It’s also a great alternative to canola oil, butter, or commercial salad dressing.
Pomegranates are a healthy fruit that you can enjoy raw or as a juice. One study concluded that drinking a cup of pomegranate juice once a day for four weeks helps lower blood pressure over the short term.
Pomegranate juice is tasty with a healthy breakfast. Be sure to check the sugar content in store-bought juices, as the added sugars can negate the health benefits.
The DASH diet and recommended foods for Blood Pressure
Dietary recommendations for lowering blood pressure, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, include reducing your intake of fat, sodium, and alcohol. Following the DASH diet for two weeks can lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) by 8-14 points.
Serving suggestions for the DASH diet include:
|Foods||Serving per day|
|sodium||no more than 2,300 mg on a traditional diet or 1,500 mg on a low-sodium diet|
|dairy (low-fat)||2 to 3|
|healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, ghee)||2 to 3|
|vegetables||4 to 5|
|fruit||4 to 5|
|nuts, seeds, and legumes||4 to 5|
|lean meat, poultry, and fish||6|
|whole grains||6 to 8|
In general, you should eat more low-fat protein sources, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. The DASH guidelines also suggest eating more foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
In general, you should eat more low-fat protein sources, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. The DASH guidelines also suggest eating more foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The guidelines also recommend no more than:
- Five servings of sweets per week
- One drink per day for women
- Two drinks per day for men
One study found that a high-fat (full fat) DASH diet reduces the same amount of blood pressure as the traditional DASH diet. Another review looked at results of 17 studies and found that the DASH diet reduced blood pressure on average by 6.74 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 3.54 mmHg points for diastolic blood pressure. Through a heart-healthy diet, you can reduce your risks for hypertension and promote good health overall.
7 Home Remedies for Managing High Blood Pressure
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force at which blood pumps from the heart into the arteries. A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
When blood pressure is high, the blood moves through the arteries more forcefully. This puts increased pressure on the delicate tissues in the arteries and damages the blood vessels.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about half of American adults, estimates the American College of Cardiology.
Known as a “silent killer,” it usually doesn’t cause symptoms until there’s significant damage done to the heart. Without visible symptoms, most people are unaware that they have high blood pressure.
1. Get moving
- Exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day is an important part of healthy living.
- Along with helping lower blood pressure, regular physical activity benefits your mood, strength, and balance. It decreases your risk of diabetes and other types of heart disease.
- If you’ve been inactive for a while, talk to your doctor about a safe exercise routine. Start out slowly, then gradually pick up the pace and frequency of your workouts.
- Not a fan of the gym? Take your workout outside. Go for a hike, jog, or swim and still reap the benefits. The important thing is to get moving!
The American Heart Association (AHA) also recommends incorporating muscle strengthening activity at least two days per week. You can try lifting weights, doing pushups, or performing any other exercise that helps build lean muscle mass.
2. Follow the DASH diet
- eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- eating low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and nuts
- eliminating foods that are high in saturated fats, such as processed foods, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats
- It also helps to cut back on desserts and sweetened beverages, such as soda and juice.
Avobe are Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can lower your blood pressure by as much as 11 mm Hg systolic.
3. Put down the saltshaker
- Keeping your sodium intake to a minimum can be vital for lowering blood pressure.
- In some people, when you eat too much sodium, your body starts to retain fluid. This results in a sharp rise in blood pressure.
- To decrease sodium in your diet, don’t add salt to your food. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,300 mg of sodium!
- Use herbs and spices to add flavor instead. Processed foods also tend to be loaded with sodium. Always read food labels and choose low-sodium alternatives when possible.
The AHA recommends limiting your sodium intake to between 1,500 milligrams (mg) and 2,300 mg per day. That’s a little over half a teaspoon of table salt.
4. Lose excess weight
- Weight and blood pressure go hand in hand. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help lower your blood pressure.
- It’s not just the number on your scale that matters. Watching your waistline is also critical for controlling blood pressure.
- The extra fat around your waist, called visceral fat, is troublesome. It tends to surround various organs in the abdomen. This can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure.
- In general, men should keep their waist measurement to less than 40 inches. Women should aim for less than 35 inches.
5. Nix your nicotine addiction
- Each cigarette you smoke temporarily raises blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. If you’re a heavy smoker, your blood pressure can stay elevated for extended periods of time.
- People with high blood pressure who smoke are at greater risk for developing dangerously high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
- Even secondhand smoke can put you at increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. Aside from providing numerous other health benefits, quitting smoking can help your blood pressure return to normal.
6. Limit alcohol
- Drinking a glass of red wine with your dinner is perfectly fine. It might even offer heart-health benefits when done in moderation.
- But drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to lots of health issues, including high blood pressure.
- Excessive drinking can also reduce the effectiveness of certain blood pressure medications.
- What does drinking in moderation mean? The AHA recommends that men limit their consumption to two alcoholic drinks per day. Women should limit their intake to one alcoholic drink per day.
One drink equals:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor
- In today’s fast-paced world that’s filled with increasing demands, it can be hard to slow down and relax. It’s important to step away from your daily responsibilities so you can ease your stress.
- Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure. Too much of it can keep your pressure up for extended periods of time.
- It helps to identify the trigger for your stress. It may be your job, relationship, or finances. Once you know the source of your stress, you can try to find ways to fix the problem.
- You can also take steps to relieve your stress in a healthy way. Try taking a few deep breaths, meditating, or practicing yoga.
The risks of high blood pressure
- When left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to serious health complications, including stroke, heart attack, and kidney damage. Regular visits to your doctor can help you monitor and control your blood pressure.
- A blood pressure reading of 130/80 mm Hg or above is considered high. If you’ve recently received a diagnosis of high blood pressure, your doctor will work with you on how to lower it.
- Your treatment plan might include medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of therapies. Taking the above steps can help bring your numbers down, too.
Experts say each lifestyle change, on average, is expected to bring down blood pressure by 4 to 5 mm Hg systolic (the top number) and 2 to 3 mm Hg diastolic (the bottom number). Lowering salt intake and making dietary changes may lower blood pressure even more.
How to Reduce Your High Blood Pressure and Take Down Hypertension
Hypertension, another name for high blood pressure, is often called a “silent killer.” This is because you can have hypertension without even knowing it, as it often presents with no symptoms. When blood pressure is uncontrolled for a long time, it significantly increases your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions.
A normal blood pressure reading is defined as falling below[rx] 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe treatment options including:
- lifestyle changes
High blood pressure can have a variety of causes, including:
- poor diet
- lack of exercise
- certain medications
Your risk also increases with age. As you get older, your artery walls lose their elasticity.
If you have high blood pressure from unknown causes, it’s called essential or primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension occurs if your hypertension is caused by a medical condition, such as kidney disease.
Eat a healthy diet
Your doctor may encourage you to change your eating habits to help lower your blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) endorses the DASH diet, which stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension.”
The DASH diet is rich in:
- whole grains
- lean sources of protein
It’s also low in:
- saturated fats
- trans fats
- added sugars
You should also reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake.
Why do I need to eat less sodium?
Sodium causes your body to retain fluids. This increases the volume of your blood and the pressure in your blood vessels. It’s believed that reducing your sodium intake can lower your blood pressure by 2-8 mm Hg in certain people.
Most healthy people should limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less per day. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, you should eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. You should also limit your sodium intake to 1,500 mg daily if you’re African-American or over 50 years old.
Why should I eat more potassium?
Potassium is an important mineral for good health. It also helps lessen the effects of sodium in your body. Eating enough potassium can help control your blood pressure.
The average adult should consume about 4,700 mg of potassium per day. Foods that are rich in potassium include:
- white beans
- white potatoes
- sweet potatoes
- greens, such as spinach
- dried apricots
Ask your doctor about how much potassium you need. It’s important to get enough potassium in your diet. But eating too much of it may also be harmful, especially if you have certain medical conditions such as chronic kidney disease.
Get regular exercise
On top of eating a well-balanced diet, it’s essential to get regular exercise. In a recent study, researchers reported that low-to-moderate exercise training can help reduce high blood pressure.
How much exercise do you need? Most healthy adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. If you have high blood pressure, try to get at least 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise three to four days per week.
Gaining weight increases your risk of hypertension. For overweight people, losing weight has been shown to decrease blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg. People are considered overweight if their body mass index (BMI) is greater than 25.
Even gradual weight loss can benefit your blood pressure levels, reducing or preventing hypertension. The AHA says that a 5-10 pound loss can provide health benefits. Consult your doctor on the healthiest way to lose weight for you.
Reduce alcohol intake
Alcohol intake has a direct relationship with blood pressure. Encouraging moderate alcohol intake is important. While a glass of red wine may offer some health benefits, moderation isn’t just for hard liquor. Regular and heavy intake of any alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically.
- 12 oz. of beer
- 5 oz. of wine
- 1 1/2 oz. of hard liquor
- Smoking can contribute or even cause a large number of cardiovascular diseases. Each cigarette that you smoke temporarily raises your blood pressure. While research hasn’t yet proven that smoking has a long-term effect on blood pressure, there’s a direct link between smoking and immediate hypertension.
- It’s also thought that smoking could have a detrimental effect on central blood pressure, which can result in organ damage. Smoking also leads to inflammation, which plays a role in the long-term damage to blood vessels.
- If you want to stop smoking, ask your doctor for product recommendations about nicotine gums or patches, and about support groups that focus on quitting smoking.
Get enough vitamin C and D
According to scientists from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, high doses of vitamin C — an average of 500 mg per day — may produce small reductions of blood pressure. Vitamin C may act as a diuretic, removing excess fluid from your body. This may help lower the pressure within your blood vessels.
Vitamin D is also essential to your overall health. According to a review article from 2013, vitamin D deficiency may raise your risk of hypertension. It’s possible that taking vitamin D supplements might help lower your blood pressure by interacting with a variety of systems in the body. You can also find vitamin D in these foods.
Reducing your overall stress can directly impact hypertension. High levels of stress sustained over long periods of time can have negative effects on your hypertension and overall health.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat many conditions. It’s also used for stress relief and promoting relaxation. Research suggests it may help improve certain conditions, including high blood pressure.
A study published in 2013 suggests that acupuncture may help lower blood pressure when used in combination with antihypertensive medications.
Meditation is also thought to help relieve stress or anxiety, even if you can only meditate a few times a day. Deep breathing exercises, whether combined with meditation or used alone, can also be effective, as they reduce the heart rate and forcibly lower blood pressure.
If you’re unable to cut out stress from your life, consulting a therapist can be helpful. They can offer stress management techniques that can prevent stress from impacting your health.
Connect with your healthcare provider
- Healthy blood pressure levels are important for lowering your chances of developing heart disease.
- Get your blood pressure checked regularly. If you’re diagnosed with hypertension, follow your doctor’s recommendations to lower your blood pressure. They may prescribe treatment strategies such as medications, supplements, and changes to your diet or exercise routine.
- Always talk to your doctor before changing your treatment plan and never stop medications without consulting them first. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of treatment options.
What Is Malignant Hypertension (Hypertensive Emergency)?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition. It affects 1 in 3 American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Guidelines for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have recently changed. Experts now predict that nearly half of American adults will have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is diagnosed if one or both of the following occur:
- Your systolic blood pressure is consistently over 130.
- Your diastolic blood pressure is consistently over 80.
High blood pressure is generally manageable if you follow your doctor’s advice.
Although it’s not common, some people with high blood pressure may have a rapid rise in blood pressure above 180/120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). This is known as a hypertensive crisis.
If a person with a blood pressure of 180/120 mm Hg or higher also has new symptoms — especially those related to the eye, brain, heart, or kidney — this is known as a hypertensive emergency. Hypertensive emergencies were previously known, in some cases, as malignant hypertension.
A hypertensive emergency requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms indicate that organ damage is occurring. If you don’t get emergency treatment, you may develop serious health problems, such as:
- heart attack
- kidney failure
A hypertensive emergency can also be life-threatening.
What are the symptoms of a hypertensive emergency?
High blood pressure is commonly referred to as the “silent killer.” This is because it doesn’t always have obvious signs or symptoms. Unlike moderate high blood pressure, a hypertensive emergency has very noticeable symptoms. Symptoms can include:
- changes in vision, including blurred vision
- chest pain
- nausea or vomiting
- numbness or weakness in the arms, legs, or face
- shortness of breath
- reduced urine output
A hypertensive emergency can also result in a condition known as hypertensive encephalopathy. This directly affects the brain. The symptoms of this disorder include:
- severe headache
- blurry vision
- confusion or mental slowness
What causes a hypertensive emergency?
Hypertensive emergencies mostly occur in people with a history of high blood pressure. It’s also more common in African-Americans, males, and people who smoke. It’s especially common in people whose blood pressure is already above 140/90 mm Hg. According to a 2012 clinical review, about 1 to 2 percent of people with high blood pressure develop hypertensive emergencies.
Some health conditions increase your chances of having a hypertensive emergency. These include:
- kidney disorders or kidney failure
- the use of drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, birth control pills, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- preeclampsia, which is common after 20 weeks gestation, but can sometimes occur earlier in pregnancy or even postpartum
- autoimmune diseases
- spinal cord injuries causing parts of the nervous system to become overactive
- renal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries of the kidneys
- a narrowing of the aorta, the main blood vessel leaving the heart
- not taking your medication for high blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure and develop any changes in your normal symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Also, seek immediate medical attention if you develop new symptoms related to a hypertensive emergency.
How is a hypertensive emergency diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your health history, including any treatments you’re on for high blood pressure. They’ll also measure your blood pressure and discuss any symptoms you’re currently having, such as changes in vision, chest pain, or shortness of breath. This will help your doctor determine whether or not emergency treatment is needed.
Determining organ damage
Other tests may be used to see if your condition is causing organ damage. For instance, blood tests measuring blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels may be ordered.
The BUN test measures the amount of waste product from the breakdown of protein in the body. Creatinine is a chemical produced by the breakdown of muscles. Your kidneys clear it from your blood. When the kidneys aren’t functioning normally, these tests will have abnormal results.
Your doctor may also order the following:
- blood tests to check for a heart attack
- an echocardiogram or ultrasound to look at heart function
- a urine test to check kidney function
- an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to measure the electrical functioning of the heart
- a renal ultrasound to look for additional kidney problems
- an eye exam to determine if damage to the eye has occurred
- a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain to check for bleeding or stroke
- a chest X-ray to look at the heart and lungs
Tips to lower your blood pressure
To lower your blood pressure, follow these tips:
- Adopt a healthy diet to reduce your blood pressure. Try the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. It includes eating fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-potassium foods, and whole grains. It also includes avoiding or limiting saturated fat.
- Limit your salt intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day if you’re African-American, over 50 years old, or if you have diabetes, hypertension, or chronic kidney disease (CKD). Keep in mind that processed foods can be high in sodium.
- Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes per day.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Manage your stress. Incorporate stress management techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, into your day to day.
- If you smoke, quit smoking.
- Limit alcoholic drinks to two per day if you’re male and one drink per day if you’re female or over 65 years old.
- Check your blood pressure at home with an automated blood pressure cuff.