Ditching burgers and steak for good is a tall order for meat lovers. But if you can find ways to swap it for chicken more often than not, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. According to the AHA, chicken has less cholesterol and saturated fat than red meats. Seeing as how cholesterol and saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol and make heart disease worse, this difference really does matter. Stick to lean, skinless cuts of chicken.
Cooling down this summer is as healthy as it is delicious when you make watermelon part of your beat-the-heat meal plan. Not only is watermelon a good source of blood pressure-lowering vitamin C and lycopene, research published in the American Journal of Hypertension reveals that patients with prehypertension who added watermelon to their diet significantly reduced their blood pressure.
A little tomato on your menu could be the key to healthier blood pressure. In addition to boasting plenty of vitamin C and quercetin, tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, which researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have linked to significant reductions in blood pressure. Just don’t try to get your fix from ketchup or bottled tomato sauce; the combination of sugar and salt in most recipes can send your blood sugar through the roof.
If you’re a tea lover, then it may be time to ditch traditional black and green varieties and go for hibiscus. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found drinking this type of tea consistently can lower blood pressure over time. The study’s author believes it works because the healthy compounds in the tea work together to keep the blood vessels resistant to damage, EatingWell notes. Since many herbal tea blends contain hibiscus, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one you like.
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.)
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.)
Nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, so there’s little argument about their importance in a diet focused on lowering high blood pressure. Additionally, SFGate says certain nuts could lower cholesterol, which is often a huge offender among those with high blood pressure. So, whether you prefer pistachios to walnuts, snacking on these staples will help keep your heart healthy.
Start your day with a round of zesty pink grapefruit and see your blood pressure numbers shoot into a healthy range in no time. In addition to being an excellent source of blood pressure-lowering, immune-boosting vitamin C, pink grapefruit is a good source of lycopene, which multiple studies have deemed effective at reducing blood pressure. In fact, a Finnish study published in Neurology reveals that study subjects with the highest concentrations of lycopene in their blood decreased their risk of stroke by 55 percent.