- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
A List of Foods that Lower High Blood Pressure and Reduce Hypertension
What makes this clinically supported fact true?
The nitrates and minerals in certain foods lower blood pressure. Several studies support how nutrients in specific foods act as natural vasodilators. The foods that show the most effective results are high in potassium, magnesium, nitrates and calcium. Other beneficial properties include the various Omega oils, flavonoids, phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Studies have found the following foods to be effective in lowering blood pressure:
- mixed berries
- whole grains
- low fat dairy
- dark chocolate
- cold water fish
- black beans
Blueberries and Mixed Berries
Fact: One serving of blueberries a week can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Blueberries, contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins help protect your body from high blood pressure (hypertension).
Mixed Berries: Berries are deliciously low in calories and are rich in polyphenols, additional antioxidants, and fiber. Top performing, heart healthy berries include: blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. What a great combo! This trio has been proven to help lower blood pressure and also provide healthy doses of Vitamin C and potassium.
- anthocyanin: provides the red and blue pigment found in berries and is related to vitamin E.
- polyphenol: a type of antioxidants linked to the reduction of heart disease.
Chocolate, certain teas and red wine are also known to be rich in polyphenols. Remember, moderation is key. Overindulgence in chocolate and red wine would obviously bring you adverse effects.
Whole Grain and High Fiber Cereals
Fact: A bowl of whole-grain, high-fiber cereals like oatmeal, oat squares, bran flakes or shredded wheat, can reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure (hypertension).
Proof: Harvard University researchers found that 73% of their study participants were able to reduce the required dose of their blood pressure medication in half, if not entirely, by consuming whole grain, high fiber cereals for 12 weeks.
Purpose: The benefit is produced by the fiber and magnesium found in oats. both have beneficial effects on blood pressure. The ingredients in oats have also been found to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis, the plaque buildup that occurs in blood vessels.
Shoot for 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of whole grain cereals daily or at the very least, every other day. Increase the benefit by adding mixed berries to your cereal.
Fact: Baked potatoes are high in potassium and magnesium. These two minerals in particular are proven to reduce high blood pressure.
Studies have shown Americans lack a healthy consumption of potassium and primarily, magnesium. Magnesium and potassium intake can be boosted by adding white potatoes, bananas and soybeans to our regular diet.
Did you know? If your body is low in potassium you naturally retain sodium? Too much sodium naturally causes the body to raise blood pressure. Not good. Also, if your body has sufficient potassium it will naturally get rid of sodium.
Supplements: Beware of taking any potassium supplements that are not prescribed by your physician. Large amounts of potassium can cause serious health issues.
By the way, a fully loaded backed potato tastes great, but loads of butter, cheese and bacon are not exactly heart and waistline healthy choices.
Fact: Beets are rich in heart healthy nitrates. One particular study by, Queen Mary University of London, found nitrates in beet juice has the same effect as a nitrate tablet. Impressive!
Purpose: Nitrates help lower and regulate blood pressure. Nitrogen is a part of all living cells and makes up about 80% of the air we breathe. Nitrogen is also the main element found in amino acids and protein. Prescription nitrates are used to help relieve angina. It is a vasodilator. Vasodilators prompt the veins to dilate and widen, relieving the pressure causing the chest pain.
Other nitrate rich foods are: spinach and lettuce.
Skim Milk and other Low Fat Dairy
Fact: Skim milk provides healthy doses of calcium and Vitamin D. In addition, low fat dairy products contain magnesium and potassium. These nutrients and minerals can help reduce blood pressure by 3% - 10%.
Interesting findings: It is easier for the body to absorb the calcium in dairy if the product is low fat. This is known as, bioavailability. Incidentally, in one particular study, the women who regularly ate low fat dairy products reduced their chances of developing hypertension by 11%. Plus, calcium is important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
Additional Research: In 2006, Harvard Medical School researchers concluded participants who ate more than three servings per day of low fat dairy had a systolic blood pressure reading 2.6 points lower than those who ate less than half a serving of low fat dairy per day.
What does this mean? Include skim milk, low fat cheese, and yogurt with your three daily meals, or as an in-between snack and you will likely lower your blood pressure by a couple points.
Fact: According to the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), eating half an ounce of dark chocolate every day may help lower blood pressure.
What happens when we eat dark chocolate? Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids naturally cause the dilation of the blood vessels.
Researchers recommend dark chocolate with 60% - 80% cacao.
Fact: Spinach is a rich source of potassium and magnesium. These two minerals help keep blood levels stable.
Improved potassium levels help keep sodium at a healthy level. If the body retains or elevates sodium levels our blood pressure will rise.
Fact: Celery has long been known to aid in lowering blood pressure. The phytochemicals in celery relax the muscle tissue in our artery walls. The result is increased blood flow and a lowering of blood pressure.
How much celery should we eat to gain results? Studies suggest eating four stalks of celery every day for lowering blood pressure.
Cold Water Fish
Fact: Cold water fish is rich in Omega-3. These essential fatty acids are highly beneficial for cardiovascular health. Omega-3 is known to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
What is cold water fish? Types of cold water fish include wild salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, cod and herring. Sardines are also a great source of Omega-3.
Note: Farm raised fish is not known to provide effective results. The best sources of Omega-3 fish oil comes from cold water fish.
How it works: Omega-3 acts differently than the natural vasodilators found in the previously listed foods. Instead, Omega-3 is a blood thinner, which makes pumping easier on our hard working heart. In addition, thinner blood helps reduce the incidence of dangerous clots.
How much cold water fish should we consume to gain cardiovascular benefits? The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of cold water, fatty fish per week.
Fact: Broccoli is a rich source of potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin C and even calcium. Studies have shown all of these properties help reduce blood pressure.
Interesting findings: If you're not one to have citrus or juices you might want to consider more broccoli. Just 1/2 a cup of broccoli contains a daily serving of vitamin C. As far as your blood pressure is concerned, vitamin C is an antioxidant and it promotes normal blood pressure.
Fact: Dandelion is a natural diuretic and most blood pressure medications include a diuretic. High sodium levels provoke the body to retain fluid and the consumption of dandelion can alleviate this effect.
Dandelion can be consumed in a variety of ways. You can have them steamed, freshly chopped in your salads, as a tea or even as a capsule. Aside from its effect as a natural diuretic, dandelion is rich in magnesium. As stated before, magnesium relaxes and dilates blood vessels. This improves blood flow and relieves the heart from having to work harder.
Fact: Black beans are a rich source of fiber, folate and magnesium. Folate is a B complex vitamin that has been shown to reduce blood pressure. In particular, the systolic portion.
Systolic pressure is the top number found in a blood pressure reading and it represents the force of the blood flow when the heart beats. In other words, the pressure required by the heart to deliver blood throughout the whole body is systolic pressure. The diastolic pressure is the return of blood when the heart is in its relaxed state from the last beat.
Additional findings: Black beans have an impressive fiber to protein ratio. This combination promotes lower cholesterol levels and it regulates blood sugar. In turn, the regulation of cholesterol and blood sugar supports the maintenance of healthy blood pressure levels.
What serving do you need to reap the benefits of black beans? A daily serving of one cup of black beans will provide your body with many nutrients and benefits.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this hub should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Please consult a physician for medical and dietary advice and treatment. Blood pressure should not be treated without the supervision of a medical professional.
© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares