If you’ve ever thought about eating your way to wellness, high blood pressure is a great place to begin. As is true with so many ailments, high blood pressure is directly related to diet and can be treated through adding healthy, nutrient-dense foods to the daily program.
If you have high blood pressure and are looking for smart ways to combat it naturally, here are fifteen foods you’ll want to add to your diet today.
1. Low-Fat Dairy
Low-fat dairy has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension and help you maintain a healthy weight. Chock-full of protein, low-fat dairy products like yogurt and milk give you the calcium and peptides you need to remain healthy, fit, and within a normal blood pressure range. What’s more, the calcium in low-fat dairy products will help you enjoy healthy, strong bones as you age.
Flaxseed is ideal for reducing your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels when consumed over a six-month period. One 2013 study, which was published in the journal Hypertension found that even people who took blood pressure medications benefited from the addition of Flaxseed to their daily diets. This is largely because flaxseed contains four heart-healthy components: peptides, fiber, alpha linolenic acid, and lignans.
Confused about how to eat flaxseed? Add it to homemade breads, cereal, and yogurt for a fiber-packed punch of good heart health.
3. Dark Chocolate
While most people believe staying away from chocolate is critical for good health, recent studies have shown that dark chocolate rich in flavanols can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension symptoms, or existing hypertension.
In fact, most people are shocked to learn how pronounced the heart-protective benefits of chocolate can truly be. According to one Harvard study, people who consumed dark chocolate products that were at least 50-70% cocoa saw lowered blood pressure, particularly if they were already suffering from hypertension.
For best results, add one small square of dark chocolate to your daily diet, in the form of an afternoon pick-me-up or post-dinner treat.
4. Olive Oil
While olive oil is a fat, it’s a very healthy fat that has the potential to reduce blood pressure rates. According to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, olive oil not only decreases blood pressure, but can improve the function of the heart tissues in people suffering from mild hypertension.
With this in mind, add olive oil to your daily diet, either in the form of a cooking oil or as a drizzle across salads, bread, or hummus.
Pistachios are a heart-healthy food that are also a tasty snack. Studies have shown that people who eat one or two servings of pistachio nuts once a day for four weeks experience dramatic reductions in systolic blood pressure.
For best results, look for unsalted pistachios, available at your local whole foods or health store.
Pomegranate is a superfood that can also help lower blood pressure and keep it within a healthy range. While similar fruit juices, like grape juice, have shown heart-protective benefits, pomegranate juice is much more powerful in much lower quantities.
For example, one clinical trial revealed that consuming just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice each day helped to lower high blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. Part of the reasons pomegranate juice is so valuable for this is that its flavonoids make it a powerful antioxidant and that it works as an anti-inflammatory compound which can help improve the cholesterol profiles.
Fatty fish varieties, like salmon, have been shown to reduce diastolic blood pressure by providing a heart-healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers recommend consuming salmon at least three times a week to enjoy its heart-healthy benefits. Leaner fish like cod have not been shown to have the same heart-protective perks, although varieties like anchovies and sardines are a good stand-in.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a critical part of any heart-healthy diet. Capable of lowering systolic blood pressure and improving cholesterol profiles, whole grains are an essential building block in a healthy lifestyle. What’s more, since they offer fiber and protein, they can help you maintain a healthy weight for years to come. For best results, eat three servings of whole grains each day.
9. White Beans
A single serving of white beans provides 30% of the magnesium, 13% of the calcium, and 24% of the potassium you need in your daily diet. For best results, toss them into side dishes, entrees, and soups. Don’t forget to keep them healthy by opting for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties.
Kiwi contains more vitamin C than an orange, and is fantastic for keeping your heart healthy and maintaining positive blood pressure. Find this tasty little treat in grocery stores, and eat it on its own, or sliced up on top of Greek yogurt, alongside some granola.
Bananas are a rich source of potassium, and are the ideal snack for anyone looking to reduce their blood pressure. In addition to helping your body keep sodium levels in check, bananas also reduce stress hormones and provide a helpful dose of bone-strengthening calcium in your daily diet.
Kale, raw or cooked, is a power-packed vegetable filled with calcium, magnesium, and potassium – all of which play critical roles in keeping your heart healthy. For best results, throw a handful of shredded, de-veined kale into a smoothie, stir-fry, or spaghetti sauce for a boost of nutritious goodness in your daily life.
Broccoli is a tasty vegetable that offers powerful cancer-fighting benefits for people who eat it. Find frozen varieties in the grocery store and toss them into side dishes or steam a whole head as a vegetable side for an entrée.
14. Sweet potato
Sweet potato (with the skin left on) is a great source of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Use these tasty root vegetables in place of normal potatoes, or throw them into smoothies or side dishes for an added boost of nutrients.
Eating Your Way to a Healthy Heart
If you’ve ever wanted to eat your way to heart health, the process starts here. By incorporating these delicious and heart-healthy options into your daily life, you can enjoy a more varied diet and a boost in health all at once.