High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious health problem. Over time, it causes blood vessel damage that can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other problems. And worst of all, there are no symptoms to tell you that something is wrong. Therefore, it’s been dubbed “the silent killer.”
However, the good news is it’s preventable and treatable, all through natural means – your diet. There are some foods you can eat to help lower your blood pressure – particularly rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium – but mainly you want to reduce your overall fat, sodium and alcohol intake.
Below are the top 7 foods, or groups of foods that will lower your blood pressure considerably:
There are some fruits that help reduce hypertension: avocado, kiwi, berries, and peaches are all excellent sources. But, number one on my list (and likely everyone else’s) is bananas. To lower your blood pressure, it’s important to have a diet rich in potassium; and, what food source has more potassium than a banana? Bananas are the easiest and quickest snack to grab on the go; not to mention inexpensive! Just one banana provides 12% of your recommended daily potassium, not to mention 8% of your daily magnesium!
Avocados are nature’s super food and are probably one of the best things you can put into your body. And, you still get 10% of your recommended daily potassium in just one half! Kiwifruit comes in third place with 9% of your daily recommended potassium, not to mention 7% of your magnesium. Peaches and nectarines also pack quite a punch in the area of potassium and magnesium. But, berries –particularly blueberries – are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids, which have been shown to prevent and reduce high blood pressure.
2. Green, Red & White Vegetables
Leafy greens are very high in potassium and magnesium. Spinach is low-calorie and high in both potassium and magnesium. Kale provides 9% of your daily calcium and potassium. And, broccoli provides 14% of your daily potassium and 8% of your required magnesium! Broccoli is also a famous source of cancer-fighting phytonutrients so you can’t go wrong here.
Deep, brightly colored vegetables are chocked full of nutrients. One cup of raw red bell pepper provides 9% of the potassium you need every day. And, beets naturally contain nitrates, which ease blood pressure. In fact, one study found that the nitrates in beet juice brought down participants’ blood pressure within just 24 hours.
Both white and sweet potatoes are very high in potassium and magnesium. In fact, one medium sweet potato provides 8% of the magnesium and 15% of the potassium you need every day.
Beans are highly nutritious and versatile, and there are so many kinds to choose from (black, white, navy, lima, pinto, and kidney). They are chock-full of calcium, potassium, and magnesium; in fact, one cup of white beans provides 13% of the calcium, 30% of the magnesium, and 24% of the potassium you need every day!
4. Pork & Fish
Before you get too excited, I’m only talking about two specific types of protein here: pork tenderloin and tilapia. Just three ounces of pork tenderloin provide 15% of your daily recommended potassium and 6% of your recommended magnesium. And, four ounces of tilapia gives you 8% of your daily recommended intake of both magnesium and potassium.
5. Low-Fat Dairy
Be careful here, I’m not talking about all dairy; however, low-fat yogurt and milk have been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension. Low-fat milk will provide you with calcium and vitamin D — the two nutrients work as a team to help reduce blood pressure by 3 to 10 percent. Fat-free plain yogurt is packed with all the nutrients needed to help lower your blood pressure: 49% of the calcium, 12% of the magnesium, and 18% of the potassium you need every day! Just make sure to avoid yogurt that is high in sugar.
High-fiber, low-fat, and low-sodium foods are just what you want for lowering your blood pressure, and oatmeal and flax fit the bill. And, while quinoa is more of a pseudo-grain, it’s nonetheless jam packed with magnesium – 15% of your daily recommended intake in fact.
7. Dark Chocolate
I saved the best for last! I’m sure you’ve heard of the health benefits dark chocolate possess; well, when it comes to your blood pressure, it’s no different. Eating about 30 calories a day of dark chocolate — just one tiny square — was shown to help lower blood pressure after 18 weeks without weight gain or other adverse effects. Make sure to choose dark chocolate consisting of at least 70 percent cocoa powder and be careful not to overdo it – there is truth behind ‘too much of a good thing.’