10 Foods That Naturally Help Lower Blood Pressure
When it comes to elevated blood pressure, healthcare professionals may suggest that their patients start a regular exercise routine, consider taking blood thinners, and focus on a wholesome diet that eliminates high-sodium foods. Whether you're considering one solution or all three, you don't have to stick to the DASH Diet or other regimented programs in order to achieve results. A heart-healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and other fiber-rich ingredients—and all of these food groups have one thing in common.
, believes the key to cooking wholesome meals that also work to lower blood pressure is focusing on this mineral: "Potassium can help flush sodium out of the kidneys and counteract salt's role in high blood pressure," Vespa says. "When your sodium-to-potassium ratio is in check, it can help protect your heart from cardiac-related diseases."
Those experiencing elevated blood pressure levels should aim to consume at least 4,700mg of potassium per day, in line with current federal recommendations. While Vespa admits the DASH (otherwise known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan has a heightened focus on these foods, she says that there should also be increased whole grains and heart-healthy fats as well. "By shifting to a more whole-foods-focused diet and including just one potassium-rich food in all of our meals, we can make strides to hit that daily quota," she says. "Plus, most foods rich in potassium are also great sources of other important micronutrients and fiber, so this shift can naturally help lower ones risk of heart disease."
Focus on incorporating exercise into your daily routine, if possible—aerobic exercises, for example, will help strengthen cardiac muscles and lower your systolic blood pressure, enhancing your efforts in the kitchen as well.
Nearly any fruit you choose will have some form of potassium as well as a vital mix of vitamins and minerals. But if you're looking for a shining star, reach for a banana: An average-sized banana packs upwards of 500 milligrams of potassium, which is about 11 percent of your daily intake. In addition to eating as a snack, bananas are great in smoothies and also in baked goods.
Spinach and Broccoli
Leafy greens—spinach and broccoli, as well as kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, collard greens, and arugula—are Vespa's secret to sneaking a substantial source of potassium into virtually any meal. Try them in salads or smoothies, add them to sandwiches, sautés, sheet pan dinners, and even omelets at breakfast time.
100 Percent Fruit Juices
Freshly squeezed orange juice is a good source of potassium, as well as nice compliment a balanced breakfast or a snack in the afternoon. And for storebought juice, be sure to check the label before you leave the store, Vespa says, as you're looking for naturally blended fruit juices that are free of added sugars. Fancy something different? Try pomegranate juice, especially if you're able to enjoy it in season.
Realistically, you'll probably be more inclined to eat more salmon, Vespa says. Salmon contains a significantly more potassium than beef and other proteins (one fillet contains 1,000mg). Try mixing it up with whitefish, including cod and halibut. These fishes don't have as much potassium as mollusks but are easy to prep and versatile enough to make it easy to eat them more than once each week.
Nuts and Seeds
There are endless sources of potassium in the nut realm: Almonds, pistachios, brazil nuts, and pine nuts are among the long list of great snacks for those who are battling high blood pressure. Half a cup of whole almonds makes a low-calorie and salt-free snack. Plus, it contains just over 500mg of potassium. You may not be as familiar with seeds: Sesame seeds and unsalted pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium, zinc, and potassium, Vespa says.
Dairy items, including milk, cheese, and butter, contain notable levels of potassium. If you prefer to avoid dairy or are vegan, you'll be happy to hear that nut milks also contain high levels of potassium, as they're usually not heat treated when they're blended.