Advertisement

12 Blood Pressure-Friendly Foods

Looking for delicious foods to help beat back hypertension? Add these to your grocery list.

1 / 9

Have high blood pressure, or know someone who does? Head on over to the supermarket, because a nutritious diet is your secret weapon in the fight against hypertension.

Studies have shown that following a heart-healthy eating plan such as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) can help lower blood pressure and reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Rife with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and nuts, DASH provides lots of blood pressure-friendly nutrients like fiber and potassium while limiting saturated fats, trans fats—and especially sodium.

Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure. Due in large part to salty processed foods like canned soups, cold cuts and chips, the average American adult consumes about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day. The American Heart Association recommends having no more than 2,300 mg daily, and some people—like those with heart disease—should stick to less than 1,500 mg a day.  

Fortunately, these delicious, heart-friendly foods are low in sodium and fit the DASH plan. Learn how they can help improve your cardiovascular health.

Medically reviewed in December 2019. Updated in July 2020.

POMEGRANATES AND POMEGRANATE JUICE

2 / 9 POMEGRANATES AND POMEGRANATE JUICE

If you or someone you love has high blood pressure, pomegranate juice may be a good add to your weekly grocery list. Some research, including a 2017 meta-analysis in the journal Pharmacological Research, suggests that drinking the ruby-red beverage each day may lead to a small decrease in systolic blood pressure, or the pressure your blood exerts on your arteries during a heartbeat.

Make sure to buy 100 percent pure juice with no added sugar, or better yet, eat the vitamin- and fiber-rich fruit itself. To extract its delicious arils (seeds) with less mess, simply cut the pomegranate in two and whack each half with a wooden spoon over a bowl. Alternately, place each half of the fruit in a bowl of water and remove the arils with your fingers. One you’re finished, sprinkle them on your salad or in your oatmeal—or eat them on their own by the handful.

PEACHES, POTATOES AND BANANAS

3 / 9 PEACHES, POTATOES AND BANANAS

Cheap and plentiful, bananas, potatoes and peaches are rich in potassium, which has often been linked to lower stroke risk in studies. The mineral works by encouraging your kidneys to filter more blood pressure-boosting sodium out of your bloodstream. It also helps tiny blood vessels relax and makes pressure sensors in artery walls function more efficiently. In one 2013 study published in BMJ, people with the highest potassium intake levels cut their stroke risk by 24 percent compared to people who got the least potassium.

If you're not getting your fill, don't take a supplement unless advised by a medical professional; it's safest to get your potassium from food.

TEA

4 / 9 TEA

Want a delicious drink to help your blood pressure? Many studies suggest that tea may be the way to go. In fact, one 2014 analysis of 25 studies in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those who drank tea for longer than 12 weeks lowered their systolic blood pressure number by around 2.6 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by about 2.2 mmHg, which authors said could reduce stroke risk by 8 percent. (Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure your blood exerts on your arteries as your heart rests between beats.) Green tea seemed to have the most powerful effect; black tea was second.

How might tea lower blood pressure? Perhaps it’s because it's high in flavonoids, which help blood vessels to relax and could help to keep their lining healthy. Tea is also a good substitute for sugar-sweetened, calorie-laden beverages like soda, which has been found to boost blood pressure in studies. 

When you’re making tea, try to keep sugar and cream to a minimum. Be aware, too, that store-bought ice teas and chai lattes—the kind you might find at a café—are often high in sugar and calories.

LOW-FAT DAIRY

5 / 9 LOW-FAT DAIRY

Head down the dairy aisle to help keep your blood pressure in check.

In many studies, diets rich in low-fat dairy have been linked to lower rates of hypertension. These foods are filled with blood-pressure-friendly minerals, like calcium, magnesium and potassium. And since low-fat dairy is lighter on calories, it makes sense that it may be more helpful than full-fat dairy, which packs more calories and can contribute to weight gain and hypertension.

OATMEAL

6 / 9 OATMEAL

Research shows that eating a diet rich in whole grains is linked to a lower risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Whipping up a bowl of oatmeal in the morning is a delicious and easy way to get more grains into your day.

In one study of folks with high blood pressure published in the Journal of Family Practice, eating a diet supplemented with oats was more effective at reducing blood pressure than eating a diet supplemented with wheat fiber; it also helped control cholesterol and blood sugar. Patients ate about 3/4 cup of whole-grain oatmeal at breakfast, plus an oat-based snack later in the day. That’s a powerful package of heart-protective benefits for one little grain.

Shredded wheat, popcorn, brown rice and whole grain bread are also excellent fiber-rich additions to a nutritious diet.

FLAXSEED

7 / 9 FLAXSEED

Here’s a great tip for possibly improving your blood pressure: Grind up some flaxseeds and sprinkle them on your oatmeal.

One 2015 meta-analysis of 11 studies in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that eating flaxseeds was associated with a small drop in blood pressure; the best results were observed in those who consumed whole seeds daily for 12 or more weeks. And since even small drops in blood pressure can help your health in big ways—by guarding against stroke and cardiovascular disease—why not sneak in more flaxseeds where you can? You can include ground flaxseed in recipes for baked goods, or mix it into your yogurt or smoothie.

BLUEBERRIES

8 / 9 BLUEBERRIES

It’s no secret: Blueberries are good for your heart health. In a 2019 study of 40 healthy men in The Journals of Gerontology, scientists found that consuming 1 cup of daily blueberries was linked to healthier blood vessels and lower systolic blood pressure. Researchers suggested that the anthocyanin content of the fruit had something to do with the benefits. Anthocyanins are flavonoids found in many dark-colored fruits and vegetables.  

Similar benefits have also been seen in studies with cranberries, strawberries and raspberries, as well as other fresh fruit.

WALNUTS AND CASHEWS

9 / 9 WALNUTS AND CASHEWS

Eaten in moderation, nuts can be a fabulous boost to your cardiovascular well-being. The healthy fat in walnuts helps keep artery inflammation in check, while the magnesium—about 46 mg per 1/4 cup—can help lower both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. You'll get 81 mg of magnesium in a little handful of cashews, too. That's a good start toward the 400 mg to 420 mg of magnesium you need daily.

Sources:

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “DASH Eating Plan.” 2020. Accessed July 31, 2020.
S Amirhossein, C Ferri, et al. “Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Pharmacological Research. 2017 Jan;115:149-161.
Hannah Gardener. “Sodium, Potassium, and Stroke.” American Heart Association. January 22, 2018.
American Heart Association. “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.” 2020. Accessed July 31, 2020.
NutritionData. “Pomegranates, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.” 2020. Accessed July 31, 2020.
The Café Sucre Farine. “The Easy Way to Remove Pomegranate Seeds.” November 12, 2018.
D Li, R Wang, et al. “Effects and Mechanisms of Tea Regulating Blood Pressure: Evidences and Promises.” 2019 May; 11(5): 1115.
L Gang, M Xue-Nan, et al. “Effects of tea intake on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” British Journal of Nutrition. Volume 112, Issue 7. October 14, 2014. Pp 1043-1054.
Mandy Oaklander. “This Kind of Tea Lowers Blood Pressure Naturally.” Time. October 21, 2014.
Patrick J. Skerrett. “Sugary soda and juice can boost blood pressure, weight.” Harvard Health Publishing. March 8, 2011.
SS Soedamah-Muthu, LDM Verberne, et al. “Dairy Consumption and Incidence of Hypertension: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies.” Hypertension. 2012;60:1131–1137.
MM McGrane, E Essery, et al. “Dairy Consumption, Blood Pressure, and Risk of Hypertension: An Evidence-Based Review of Recent Literature.” Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports. 2011 Aug 1; 5(4): 287–298.
PB Mellen, TF Walsh, DM Herrington. “Whole grain intake and cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis.” Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. 2008 May;18(4):283-90.
RN Ndanuko, LC Tapsell, et al. “Dietary Patterns and Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Advances in Nutrition. 2016 Jan 15;7(1):76-89.
JJ Pins, D Geleva, et al. “Do whole-grain oat cereals reduce the need for antihypertensive medications and improve blood pressure control?” The Journal of Family Practice. 2002 Apr;51(4):353-9.
Mayo Clinic. “Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?” 2019. Accessed August 19, 2020.
CE Evans, DC Greenwood, et al. “Effects of dietary fibre type on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of healthy individuals.” Journal of Hypertension. 2015;33(5):897-911.
S Khalesi, C Irwin, M Schubert. “Flaxseed consumption may reduce blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials.” Journal of Nutrition. 2015 Apr;145(4):758-65.
A Rodriguez-Mateos, G Istas, et al. “Circulating Anthocyanin Metabolites Mediate Vascular Benefits of Blueberries: Insights From Randomized Controlled Trials, Metabolomics, and Nutrigenomics.” The Journals of Gerontology. Volume 74, Issue 7, July 2019, Pages 967–976.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Potassium lowers blood pressure.” 2017. Accessed July 31, 2020.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Beating high blood pressure with food.” 2019. Accessed July 31, 2020.
M Vincet, T Filippini, et al. “Meta-Analysis of Potassium Intake and the Risk of Stroke.” Journal of the American Heart Association. 2016 Oct; 5(10): e004210.
NJ Aburto, S Hanson, et al. “Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses.” BMJ. 2013;346:f1378.
EMM Gomes Jodas, A Francisco Voltera, et al. "Effects of physical training and potassium supplementation on blood pressure, glucose metabolism and albuminuria of spontaneously hypertensive rats.” Brazilian Journal of Nephrology. Volume 3, Number 6. July/September 2014.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. “Magnesium.”

Continue Learning about Hypertension

Can You Spot Hidden High Blood Pressure?
Can You Spot Hidden High Blood Pressure?
From Ancient Greece through the 18th century, physicians believed that bloodletting expelled bad blood, or humors, out of the body, expelling disease ...
Read More
What are the risk factors for aortic dissection?
The Society of Thoracic SurgeonsThe Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Risk factors for aortic dissection include: poorly controlled high blood pressure injury to th...
More Answers
What high sodium foods should I eliminate?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Many foods naturally contain sodium, including animal products like meat, fish, poultry, milk and eg...
More Answers
Your Blood Pressure on Sugar
Your Blood Pressure on Sugar