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.)
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.
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.
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: 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.)
Swap out those refined sugar-loaded treats in favor of strawberries and watch your blood pressure dip into doctor-approved territory. Researchers at the University of Alberta’s Manzankowski Alberta Heart Institute have found resveratrol, a pigment found in red fruit like strawberries, effective at preventing hypertension and dangerous enlargement of the heart muscle in mice and rats. Though this hasn’t been proven in humans yet, strawberries are still a healthy food to add to your hypertension-fighting 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.
Flexibility is key: Of course this plan cannot meet all your individual needs, so if there is an ingredient you don’t eat then replace it or leave it out. If you don’t normally eat breakfast, then leave it out. If you eat between meals, then have more than one snack. Also it pays off to batch prepare several meals ahead of time so you can simply reheat and go. This can be done for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
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.