An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, particularly for those struggling with high blood pressure. In addition to the 4.5 grams of blood pressure-lowering fiber you’ll get from each apple, you’ll also enjoy a healthy helping of quercetin, which has been deemed an effective antihypertensive, according to the results of a study conducted at the University Complutense of Madrid School of Medicine.
High-fiber whole grains, especially oatmeal, have been linked to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that just three servings of whole grains a day can decrease your risk of heart disease by 15 percent. Oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to start your day with whole grains. Add whole-wheat bread at lunch and quinoa, barley, or brown rice at dinner
Making some stuffed peppers for dinner tonight could be the first step on a journey toward a healthier heart and lower blood pressure. Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, with more of the potent antioxidant than even citrus fruits, which has been shown to improve cardiac function and lower blood pressure. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that loading up on vitamin C reduced blood pressure by 5 millimeters of mercury in patients with hypertension, making these versatile veggies a smart addition to any meal plan.
Tip: This mild white fish is available year-round in supermarkets and fish stores, fresh or as frozen fillets. You can roast it, bake it, and sauté it, flavor it with a variety of seasonings, and even top it with mineral-rich kiwi-avocado salsa. Tilapia is extremely low in environmental toxins like mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and it is considered a sustainable, environmentally friendly choice. Most US-raised tilapia is grown in closed-system fish farms on plant-based diets, an approach that doesn’t threaten stocks of wild fish, according to the nonprofit Food & Water Watch. (These 10 healthiest fish on the planet are also worth adding to your diet.)
Unless you also happen to be lactose intolerant, you’re good to go when it comes to dairy products. Some evidence indicates dairy is beneficial for lowering blood pressure, but you want to make sure you’re choosing the low-fat variety, as we know people with high blood pressure should avoid trans and saturated fats. Need more convincing? The DASH Diet, which has been praised for lowering blood pressure, encourages people to incorporate low-fat dairy products into their diets. This includes low-fat yogurt and fat-free milk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 75 million Americans have high blood pressure. Many risk factors for high blood pressure are out of your control, such as age, family history, gender, and race. But there are also factors you can control, such as exercise and diet. A diet that can help control blood pressure is rich in potassium, magnesium, and fiber and lower in sodium.
Slash your blood pressure and lower your risk of chronic disease by making apricots a staple in your diet today. Whether you’re tossing some on a salad, eating dried apricots as a snack, or adding some to your favorite smoothie, these vitamin C-rich, beta-carotene-loaded fruits are the key to healthier blood pressure. Even better is the 3.3 grams of dietary fiber you’ll get per cup of apricots — research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that a high-fiber diet can significantly lower your blood pressure, too.
Leafy greens, like spinach and kale, may help reduce blood pressure, thanks to magnesium. Research has found taking 300 milligrams of the mineral a day for one month can elevate blood magnesium levels and reduce blood pressure. Furthermore, a press release on the research reads, “High magnesium levels in the blood were linked to improvements in blood flow, another factor associated with lowered blood pressure.” Additional foods that are high in magnesium include whole grains, beans, and nuts.
While eggs have had a checkered reputation in the past because of their cholesterol content, recent research suggests these protein powerhouses can actually help improve both your cholesterol and your blood pressure while keeping you satisfied. According to the American Journal of Hypertension, a high-protein diet, like one rich in eggs, can help lower blood pressure naturally while promoting weight loss, as well. Just make sure you’re not detracting from the health benefits of your egg-based breakfast by adding the wrong condiments; the sugar in ketchup and high salt content of hot sauce may reduce your protein-rich meal’s blood pressure-lowering effects.
Tip: Cool and creamy, yogurt is a star ingredient in mineral-rich breakfasts, in sauces and salad dressings, and even in entrées. Most brands of regular yogurt tend to be a bit higher in calcium than Greek varieties, but no matter what type you buy, be sure to stick to low-sugar varieties free of flavorings. (Keep things interesting with these 8 tasty yogurt toppings.)
As if you didn’t need another reason to drink more berry-filled smoothies. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found compounds in blueberries protect against high blood pressure. If you’re not a fan of blueberries, these compounds are also found in raspberries, strawberries, and black currents, ScienceDaily reports. The effect was higher in those who ate blueberries over strawberries, though, so choose these if you have the option.
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Tip: There’s a reason the United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. This high-protein whole grain has a mild yet nutty flavor, contains a variety of health-protecting phytonutrients along with an impressive amount of magnesium, and cooks in less than half the time it takes to make brown rice. Quinoa is gluten free, making it a great option if you’re gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. The most widely available quinoa is a golden beige color, but red and black varieties are also available and worth a try for your high blood pressure diet.
While fatty foods may seem like they have no place in a high blood pressure-fighting meal plan, fatty fish like salmon are a major exception to that rule. Salmon is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation, lower your risk of heart disease, and get your blood pressure into a healthy range. Research published in the June 2012 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that omega-3 supplementation reduced blood pressure among older patients and those with hypertension, making this tasty protein-rich fish a must-eat for anyone whose blood pressure has crept into a concerning range.