Research indicates a healthy diet is one of the most important ways to control and reduce blood pressure.
If you’re looking for foods that lower blood pressure, you’re probably already familiar with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, a plan focused to help individuals lower their blood pressure by eating a variety of whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts while eating limited amounts of fats, red meats, sweets and sugary beverages.
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While the plan may be a perfect approach for some, others just want to know what foods they can eat to help lower their blood pressure without changing their entire diet.
Here is a list of foods that lower blood pressure according to recent research:
1 – Dairy
In a 2012 review and analysis of several studies published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, researchers found links between the consumption of low-fat diary and a reduced risk of hypertension. The link was connected to those consuming low-fat yogurt and low-fat milk.
It’s believed the peptides released during digestion help protect the heart and reduce blood pressure.
2 – Flaxseed
According to a 2013 study published in the journal Hypertension, consuming flaxseed from a variety of sources was linked to lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure over a six-month period. While it’s not exactly clear how flaxseed makes a difference, the following compounds are believed to be the difference: alpha linolenic acid, lignans, peptides and fiber.
3 – Raisins
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, individuals with borderline hypertension were given raisins three times a day for 12 weeks, which helped to significantly reduce blood pressure. The high potassium is believed to be responsible but the fiber, tannins and antioxidants may also play a role in helping to reduce blood pressure.
4 – Chocolate
Surprised to see chocolate on the list? Eating dark chocolate or other cocoa products rich in flavanols has been linked to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure among those with hypertension or pre-hypertension according to meta-anlysis in BMC Medicine. It’s the flavanols that offer the benefits because they’ve been linked to increased nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide helps to widen the blood vessels and improves blood flow to help lower blood pressure.
5 – Olive Oil
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Hypertension, researchers compared a diet that included polyphenol-rich olive oil with a diet that didn’t contain any polyphenols. The polyphenol-rich diet was linked to drops in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
6 – Beets
Participants in a 2013 study in Nutrition Journal drank beet plus apple juice or plain apple juice and then had their blood pressure monitored over 24 hours. Researchers saw a reduction in systolic blood pressure just six hours after drinking the beet juice. Beets contain nitrates, which help reduce blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide within the body.
7 – Pistachios
A study published in the journal Hypertension examined pistachio consumption and blood pressure. Eating the nuts helped increase the volume of blood pumped from the heart and it’s believed the pistachios help reduce the constriction of peripheral blood vessels.
8 – Pomegranate
British researchers looked at the effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure. Consuming more than a cup of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks was linked to reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure according to the results of the study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Pomegranate juice contains both potassium and polyphenols, both believed to help reduce blood pressure.
9 – Fatty Fish
Significant research has gone into examining the benefits of fatty fish related to blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Research published in the journal Nutrition found a link between eating fatty fish such as salmon to a reduction in diastolic blood pressure over eight week. Research has shown the omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure.
10 – Whole Grains
British researchers compared a diet of whole wheat to a diet of refined grains and discovered those eating three servings of whole grains has been linked to a reduction in systolic blood pressure. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is one of many studies showing the benefits of regularly eating whole grains.
11 – Hibiscus
Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found drinking three servings of hibiscus tea daily over the course of six weeks helped lower blood pressure for individuals with pre-hypertension or mild high blood pressure. The antioxidants in the hibiscus tea are believed to be the reason why it helps lower blood pressure.
While this list is in no way a comprehensive list of the foods that lower blood pressure, it provides you a place to start with enough variety to help you find something you enjoy.
A healthy diet can make a big difference in lowering blood pressure and improving overall health.