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8 Foods To Help Support Healthy Blood Pressure

A bowel of plain yogurt with blueberries and walnuts.

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According to the American Heart Association (AHA), over 100 million Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension).

If your blood pressure remains high for a long period of time—consistently above 130/80 mm/Hg according to the AHA—it can damage your blood vessels. The damage places you at an increased risk for negative health outcomes like heart attack, stroke, vision loss, and sexual dysfunction. 

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help lower your blood pressure, such as getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and following certain dietary guidance.

The DASH Diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (DASH diet) is a popular eating pattern that is funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The DASH Diet can help many people lower their blood pressure and is often recommended by healthcare providers.

What Does the DASH Diet Recommend?

  • Avoiding fried foods
  • Eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods 
  • Emphasizing foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium
  • Including moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts in your diet
  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Limiting salt intake (sodium) to up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day
  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets

8 Foods to Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Here are 8 foods that follow DASH Diet guidelines and can help you lower your blood pressure.

Blueberries

Whether you toss them in a smoothie, on top of yogurt, or simply enjoy them on their own, adding fresh or frozen blueberries to your diet can be a delicious way to help support healthy blood pressure.

In one study, subjects with pre-and stage 1 hypertension ate either blueberry or placebo every day for 8 weeks. After two months, results showed that those who consumed blueberries (consumed as a freeze-dried blueberry powder) experienced a 5.1% and 6.3% reduction in mean systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, respectively. There were no significant decreases in the control group.

According to data published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, enjoying one cup of blueberries each week may even reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure in the first place.

After evaluating the diets of more than 150,000 men and women over a 14 year period, the researchers found that the participants with the highest intake of the anthocyanin flavonoid (which is found in blueberries and other blue/purple foods) had an 8% risk reduction of developing high blood pressure compared to those who ate the least amount of anthocyanins.

For the study, the primary source of anthocyanins was blueberries and strawberries—both of which are a tasty way to keep your blood pressure in check.

Walnuts

A study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases found that people who ate walnuts had lower diastolic blood pressure, waist circumference, and abdominal obesity than those who did not eat them. Normal diastolic function is important because it leads to lower diastolic blood pressure, which slows progression to heart failure.

Additionally, the results of a clinical trial in 2019 suggested that eating walnuts as part of a low saturated fat diet may also help lower central blood pressure.

To get more walnuts in your diet, try sprinkling some on your oatmeal or salad, spreading walnut butter onto your morning toast, or noshing on a handful of walnuts on their own as a snack.

100% Orange Juice

If you have a glass of 100% orange juice with your breakfast, know that it naturally contains potassium—a nutrient that is emphasized in the DASH diet. 

You'll also get plenty of a flavonoid called hesperidin, which is found in citrus foods like lemons, limes, and 100% orange juice. Hesperidin may help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

When choosing OJ, make sure the bottle contains only 100% juice. Try to avoid versions with added sugars, artificial colors, or other added ingredients.

In a recent clinical trial that included adults with pre-hypertension or hypertension, the participants who drank 500 mL of 100% orange juice (around 2 cups per day) experienced an average of 6.35 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) decrease in blood pressure. 

The researchers partly attributed the blood pressure-lowering effect to the juice's hesperidin content. Another clinical trial in 2011 showed that inactive and overweight male participants who consumed orange juice had reduced diastolic blood pressure.

Watermelon

Full of potassium, l-citrulline, and lycopene, watermelon offers a trifecta of heart-healthy features. In fact, watermelon consumption has specifically been linked to a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

L-citrulline is an amino acid that may help reduce blood pressure in certain populations. Lycopene, an antioxidant that is responsible for giving watermelon its red-pink hue, is linked to a positive effect on high blood pressure, among other positive cardiovascular outcomes. 

Pears

No matter which variety you like best, regular pear consumption may improve blood pressure in men and women (45-65 years old) with metabolic syndrome. According to data published in Food and Function, 12 weeks of daily pear consumption showed benefits for systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure (the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure). 

Plus, data from three large, long-term studies that followed more than 187,000 people for an average of over 20 years, showed that people who ate more whole fruits—especially apples, pears, grapes, and raisins—were less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who rarely ate them.

Oily Fish

Oily fish like salmon and trout are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that may play a role in reducing blood pressure levels for many people.

In 2018, the American Heart Association (AHA) advised that eating 1 to 2 seafood meals per week can help people reduce their risk for negative cardiac outcomes and may help them maintain healthy blood pressures.

Lentils

Loaded with heart-healthy nutrients like potassium and magnesium, lentils pack a punch. In one review study, researchers found that when people exchanged other foods in their diets for lentils and beans, their systolic blood pressure lowered.

Whether you are enjoying the little pulse in a sauce, in a soup, or simply as a side dish, adding lentils to your diet may have an impact on your blood pressure health. 

Yogurt

Dairy products like yogurt are loaded with key nutrients like potassium and calcium that support heart health. In one review study, researchers found that consuming 3 servings of dairy per day was associated with a 13% reduced risk of developing high blood pressure.

When choosing yogurt, opt for selections that contain no added sugar. For a little sweet taste and a nutritional boost, add some fruit.

Turmeric

Turmeric can have a place in a heart-healthy diet if it's eaten in the right quantities and for a certain amount of time.

According to one meta-analysis published in Pharmacological Research, consuming curcumin/turmeric may improve systolic blood pressure when administered for long durations. 

You can add turmeric to dishes, sip on it as tea, or even take it in supplement form. Just keep in mind that the spice may interact with certain medications. Check with your healthcare provider before you add it to your diet.

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