10 Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

10 Foods That Lower Blood Pressure


Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects 48.1% of adults in the United States. Having high blood pressure can be serious, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health conditions. Thankfully, in addition to medications and other treatment methods, there are some lifestyle adjustments you can make to help manage it. One includes eating a diet rich in foods that can help lower your blood pressure. 

Overall, a blood pressure-friendly diet involves limiting saturated and trans fats, sodium, and excess sugar and replacing them with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and lean protein. In addition to reducing blood pressure, these foods can help protect your heart and reduce your blood sugar.

When your heart beats, it sends blood through a network of tubes called arteries. This movement creates pressure on your artery walls. The strength of this pressure is what we measure as blood pressure.

Blood pressure (BP) is measured using two indicators—systolic and diastolic blood pressure, both of which you will find in your blood pressure reading:

  • The top number of your BP reading is your systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure exerted when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) indicates the amount of pressure in your arteries between those beats. 

Your blood pressure reading should be less than 120/80 mmHg. Hypertension, indicated by a reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher, means the pressure within your arteries is too high. 

While you may not feel any symptoms of heightened BP, your heart must work harder to pump blood through your body. This puts strain on your heart and makes it harder for your blood to remove excess fluids, increasing your risk for heart disease. 

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Berries contain flavonoids (plant pigments that promote good health). They are rich in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that can help regulate blood pressure. Anthocyanins support the production of nitric oxide (NO), a molecule that keeps our blood vessels flexible and open for healthy blood flow. This makes it easier for your body to send oxygen and nutrients to where they are needed.

A 2021 study with 904 participants found that those who consumed 1.6 portions of berries (about 1.5 cups) had significantly lowered their blood pressure. Their systolic blood pressure was reduced by 4.4 mmHg. A 5 mmHg drop in blood pressure may reduce cardiovascular disease risk by 10%.

For maximum benefit, consume 1.5-2 cups of berries throughout your day. You can enjoy them in your morning oatmeal, serve them in a yogurt parfait, or sprinkle them onto your salads. 

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Beets are among the plants that contain the highest amounts of naturally occurring nitrates (plant compounds that may benefit your heart). These nitrates turn into nitric oxide (NO) in your body. NO keeps your blood pressure in check by ensuring a smooth and healthy blood flow. 

Beets and beetroot juice may be especially beneficial for improving your systolic blood pressure, as measured in a 2022 review, although more research is needed to confirm this finding.

Start your day with a 2-ounce shot (approx. 70 mL) or enjoy a full 8-ounce glass (250 mL) of beet juice. You can also add beet juice to your smoothies or juice 3-4 medium beets (to yield 6 ounces of the juice) along with carrots and ginger for a fresh and tasty drink.

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Kiwi is a fruit rich in vitamin C, potassium, and other plant nutrients that support health and well-being. The combination of its nutrients may improve blood pressure in a variety of ways. 

One study suggests kiwi may benefit people with slightly high blood pressure. Men and women with moderately high blood pressure consumed three kiwis daily over eight weeks. They had greater systolic and diastolic blood pressure reductions than those who consumed an apple a day.

Enjoy a few medium kiwis sliced in a leafy green salad or a tropical fruit salad. You might also add them to a green smoothie.

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Research suggests that two or more servings of nuts per week is associated with a 13-19% reduction in heart disease risk. According to one review, pistachios may significantly affect your blood pressure more than other nuts. Their abundance of phytosterols (anti-inflammatory plant compounds) may benefit your heart and blood flow.

As nuts are high in calories, 1 ounce of pistachios (49 kernels) can be optimal for weight control. Enjoy a loose handful of pistachios, toss them into a salad, or add them to a smoothie. You can also chop and season them to coat your roast salmon.

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Lentils are legumes, which include soybeans, peas, chickpeas, and peanuts. All of these “edible seeds” (aka pulses) grow in a pod, classifying them as members of the legume family.

Legumes contain various compounds that are linked to lower blood pressure. These plant nutrients include fiber, flavonoids, and peptides (short chains of amino acids) that can help manage your blood sugars and blood pressure. Consuming one-half cup of legumes three times weekly is associated with better blood pressure control.

Enjoy 4 ounces (one-half cup) of seasoned lentils in a bowl with quinoa, tofu, chickpeas, and a variety of colorful, crunchy vegetables like carrots—or enjoy a warm, dense bowl of lentil soup.

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Asparagus is a good source of fiber, which can help keep your blood pressure in check. It also has folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium—all of which can support healthy blood pressure levels.

Folic acid is important because it can reduce a substance called homocysteine in your body. Too much homocysteine can damage the lining of your arteries. Some research suggests that Vitamin C may also improve blood pressure. Additionally, potassium in asparagus has diuretic effects, which means it can help your body get rid of excess sodium and fluids.

Enjoy 10 medium spears of asparagus to get 3 g of dietary fiber, 335 mg potassium, and over 10% of your daily value of vitamin C. Roast your asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt for a tasty side dish. You can also add it to your salads or blend it in a creamy soup.

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Pears are good sources of dietary fiber. Fiber plays a role in regulating blood sugar and lowering your risk of heart disease. Diabetic conditions such as hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in your blood) can lead to high blood pressure. Therefore, keeping blood sugars in check is important for blood pressure control.

Additionally, pears contain magnesium and potassium. These nutrients are associated with blood pressure control. When consumed together as part of a low-sodium diet, magnesium and potassium may have a greater effect on reducing blood pressure than just one of them on its own. 

According to one study, eating two pears daily may reduce systolic blood pressure in adults at high risk for heart disease.

Pears can be whole or sliced, chopped in a fruit salad, or paired with low nuts or low-fat cheese.

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Sweet potatoes are sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These are key nutrients involved in blood pressure control. Sweet potatoes also contain many antioxidants (disease-fighting nutrients), including purple-pigmented anthocyanins. Purple sweet potatoes are especially good sources of anthocyanins.

In one study, white people with high blood pressure drank a purple sweet potato beverage daily for four weeks. Each drink provided 250 milligrams (mg) of anthocyanins. By the end of the trial, their systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced.

Enjoy a medium roasted sweet potato dusted with cinnamon, or add sliced baked sweet potato to a hearty bowl of grains and greens.

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Kale is a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. It contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium—nutrients associated with blood pressure control.

In a 2015 study observing people with moderately high blood pressure, supplementing 300 ml (about 1 ¼ cups) of kale juice daily significantly decreased their systolic and diastolic blood pressure values.

If kale juice isn’t your thing, enjoy one cup of kale seasoned and baked to a crisp (kale chips). You can also enjoy a hearty kale-based salad or sauté your kale and season it with balsamic vinegar and a hint of parmesan cheese.

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Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s)—a polyunsaturated fat that protects your heart and brain. The American Heart Association recommends two 3-ounce servings of cooked fish (or 0.75 cups of flaked fish like canned salmon or tuna) per week, including salmon and other fatty fish (fish with higher levels of omega-3s).  

Salmon may also have a positive effect on your blood pressure. One study found that 5 or 6 servings of fatty fish weekly significantly lowered systolic blood pressure in Ecuadorians aged 40 and up.

Enjoy salmon baked or roasted with a little olive oil and sea salt. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs. If you have leftovers, flake them in a heart green salad to add more protein. 

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a plant-based, low-sodium diet that includes minimal amounts of low-fat dairy and limits red meat and sugars.

Like DASH, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It also includes cheese and yogurt, moderate amounts of fish and olive oil, minimal wine, and lean animal proteins. The diet focuses on minimally processed whole foods, which means it is lower in sodium than a typical Western diet.

Both diets are low in saturated fats, sugars, and trans fats (chemically processed fats that harm your health). Still, they provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant nutrients.

Lifestyle factors may also affect your blood pressure. It is important to stay active, limit alcohol, avoid smoking, and manage your stress. When combined with a DASH or Mediterranean dietary plan, these lifestyle factors can help you lose weight, control your blood sugars, and lower your blood pressure.

Foods to avoid with high blood pressure include foods high in added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Deli and other highly processed meats, such as ham, bacon, and sausages
  • High intakes of animal protein, especially fatty meats
  • Highly-sugared ultra-processed foods (e.g, cookies, cakes, pastries)
  • Alcohol
  • High-salt foods, including olives, sauces, potato chips, and pickles
  • Excess caffeine

Foods rich in anthocyanins, natural nitrates, dietary fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids may help lower your blood pressure (BP), especially when they’re also packed with nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These include berries, beets, kiwi, sweet potatoes, pistachios, and salmon, among others.

It’s best to avoid processed meats, high amounts of animal protein, sugary treats, ultra-processed foods, and foods high in sodium.

The DASH and Mediterranean diets focus on foods like this and are recommended for lowering your blood pressure. These dietary plans are especially effective when combined with other measures like staying active, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and monitoring your stress levels.

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