Limit or cut out junk foods and highly processed products: This diet plan focuses on whole, unrefined foods as they are fundamental to eating healthy. Realistically it’s very difficult to eliminate all highly processed/packaged foods (which contain the majority of salt in our diet), but just be mindful of cutting down. Likewise, snacks are optional depending on your normal eating habits, and there are bonus snack recipe ideas if you scroll to the bottom.
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.)
Bananas are one of your best options. As it turns out, foods high in potassium help manage high blood pressure because it can minimize the impact sodium has. The American Heart Association says one medium banana has about 420 milligrams of potassium, which is a significant amount for a relatively small amount of food. The daily recommended potassium intake for adults is 4,700 milligrams, so just one fruit will have you well on your way.
Don’t deprive yourself of dessert just because you’re eager to get your blood pressure under control. A little dark chocolate can go a long way when it comes to lowering those numbers, thanks to its flavonoid content. Flavonoids, a type of plant-based pigment, have been linked to reductions in blood pressure, thanks to their ability to improve endothelial function, according to researchers at the University of Manitoba. Just make sure you’re choosing real dark chocolate for the biggest benefit; foods high in sugar, like most milk chocolate bars, have been linked to an increase in blood pressure by researchers at the New Zealand University of Otago. Reduce your risk of chronic disease even further by discovering and ditching the worst habits for heart health ASAP.