8 Foods That Help Lower High Blood Pressure
Consuming less sodium may be important to help slash blood pressure levels, but eating more of these foods is good for your heart and arteries too.
By Diana Kelly
These tasty spuds are rich in magnesium and potassium, two nutrients that are an important part of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or high blood pressure). A potassium-rich diet helps the body become more efficient at flushing out excess sodium, which can raise blood pressure; and magnesium helps promote healthy blood flow, according to nutritionist Joy Bauer.
A cold glass of milk offers a solid serving of both calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that work as a team to help lower blood pressure by 3 to 10 percent, according to Bauer’s website. Those numbers may not sound impressive, but they could translate to a 15 percent reduction in heart disease risk, she added. Other research suggests that people with low levels of calcium are at greater risk of high blood pressure.
If you think eggs are not heart healthy, you should know that past studies have shown that yolks don’t raise heart disease risk; now recent research has found that egg whites can help dial down blood pressure, according to a study presented earlier this year at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. As MensHealth.com reported, when rats with high blood pressure were fed a protein found in egg whites, they experienced a drop in blood pressure that was comparable to a low dose of Captopril, a blood-pressure-lowering medication. Although more research is needed, eggs are a solid source of protein, vitamin D, and other healthy nutrients.
This cruciferous veggie is a good source of the blood pressure-regulating minerals magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Previous research in animals has found that a diet high in broccoli sprouts may help reduce blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Broccoli sprouts are high in compounds that may help reduce damage to arteries, which may play a role in high blood pressure.
People with high blood pressure who drank about eight ounces of beetroot juice experienced a decrease in blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg, according to a study published in April 2013 in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension. The magic ingredient? Nitrate, which turns into nitric oxide, a gas that widens blood vessels and aids blood flow. A glass a day could help keep blood pressure at a lower, healthier level.
Sesame and rice-bran oils
People who cooked with a blend of the two oils (available at health food stores) saw a drop in blood pressure almost comparable with the decrease that results from taking medication, according to research from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. Researchers believe the effect is due to the oils’ fatty acids and antioxidants such as sesamin, sesamol, sesamolin, and oryzanol.
Famously rich in blood pressure-lowering potassium, one banana contains about 420 milligrams, or 11 percent of the 4,700 milligrams the American Heart Association recommends people consume daily. Surprisingly, however, many veggies are actually higher in potassium than these popular fruits. A cup of Swiss chard boasts 960 milligrams, a cup of cooked white beans has nearly 1,200 milligrams, and a whole avocado has 975 milligrams.
A tasty way to be heart healthy! Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavanols, which make blood vessels more elastic, according to Prevention.com. Stick to an ounce or less a day and make sure it contains at least 70 percent cocoa.