High blood pressure is very common, but there are ways to get it under control or possibly even prevent it. By lowering blood pressure numbers, you can reduce your chances of heart disease and stroke. The good news is that you can begin with simple changes to something you do every day: eating.

If you’re wondering, “What foods lower blood pressure?” We’ve got the answers. Below, we share information about top foods to eat and avoid if you have high blood pressure. Plus, we’ll provide information on the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) that can help lower your blood pressure naturally.

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70+ foods that lower blood pressure and why they help

Foods to lower blood pressure also tend to be part of a heart-healthy diet. You really can’t go wrong if you focus on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins. Foods that lower blood pressure tend to be higher in nutrients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and fiber. They’re also low in saturated fat, sodium (salt) and added sugar.

10 vegetables that reduce blood pressure

Vegetables are nutrient-dense and packed with heart-healthy antioxidants and fiber. If you’re looking for ways to lower blood pressure, here are some of the best vegetables to include on your plate:

  • Potatoes – Potatoes are an amazing source of potassium (even more than a banana). Potassium is valuable because it helps your body flush out excess sodium and may relax the walls of your blood vessels, allowing more blood flow. One medium potato has about 13% of your daily value.
  • Leafy greens – Green veggies such as cabbage, kale, spinach and collard greens are high in magnesium and other nutrients. Magnesium helps with blood pressure control by keeping blood vessels relaxed and your blood flowing. Eating leafy greens daily has been shown to lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
  • Winter squash – Squash is a great source of potassium and also includes other heart-healthy nutrients like fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C. Types of winter squash include acorn squash, butternut squash, kabocha and spaghetti squash.
  • Garlic – Eating more garlic is a great way to reduce blood pressure. It also enhances the flavor of foods, making it easier to cut down on salt, which is one of the main ingredients to avoid when trying to lower blood pressure (we’ll get to that in a bit). If you’re not a fan of the taste, ask your doctor if garlic supplements are a good option.

All vegetables offer health benefits, but it can make a difference if they’re fresh, frozen or canned. When possible, choose fresh or frozen options without added salt. If you need to use canned vegetables, look for lower salt options and rinse them before use.

7 fruits that help reduce high blood pressure

Fruits are full of fiber, antioxidants and so much more. If you’re looking for fruits to help with your blood pressure, here’s what you need to know: Pretty much any fruit is good for your heart, and it’s best to choose a variety. Still, the following fruits may have a slight edge because of their nutritional content.

  • Pomegranates – These fruits are clinically proven to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This is likely because they’re rich in lycopene and other antioxidants that reduce inflammation and help protect cells from damage.
  • Berries – Berries are a rich source of polyphenols, a kind of antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and potentially lower blood pressure.
  • Kiwis – Research shows that eating kiwis daily may reduce your systolic blood pressure.
  • Apricots – Apricots are excellent for blood pressure because they’re high in potassium and other heart-healthy nutrients.

Other fruits rich in potassium include avocados, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

6 whole grains that lower blood pressure numbers

Eating whole grains can make a big difference when you’re trying to control blood pressure. A review of 28 studies found that people reduced their chance of high blood pressure by 8% with every 30-gram increase of whole grains in their daily diet.

When eating for lower blood pressure (and heart health), about half your grains should be whole grains. Choosing whole grain breads and pastas is one of the easiest ways to get more whole grains. In fact, a single piece of whole grain bread usually has at least 30 grams of whole grains.

Some great options for whole grains include:

  • Oats – Oats are rich in soluble fiber which is linked to lower blood pressure. (Soluble fiber is also a great way to lower cholesterol naturally.)
  • Ancient grains – Ancient grains like amaranth and quinoa are nutrient-rich, and often high in potassium and magnesium. Ancient grains can be eaten as a pilaf or in porridge or salad. They’re also a common ingredient in baked goods that are gluten-free.
  • Brown rice – Brown rice is good for blood pressure since it’s high in magnesium. Also, brown rice noodles are a tasty option that usually pass the picky-eater test.
  • Corn – Corn is packed with antioxidants that help with blood pressure. Remember, popcorn counts as a whole grain, and can be a great and filling snack. Just keep an eye on the fat and salt content.
  • Whole wheat – Whole wheat products are healthier because they still have the bran and germ, which are the parts of wheat that contain most of the fiber and antioxidants.

7 lean proteins to choose for reducing blood pressure

Replacing high-fat meats with heart-healthy proteins can have a significant impact on your blood pressure. When eating any meats, be careful to watch for sodium consumption. Many processed meats (like deli chicken, turkey and ham) often have high amounts of sodium and other ingredients that may raise your blood pressure.

Lean protein options include:

  • Fish – Eating fatty fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines can be especially beneficial since they contain Omega-3 fatty acids that may reduce blood pressure. But if you prefer other types, that’s okay too. There are countless benefits from eating fish, no matter which kinds you choose.
  • Poultry – Eating poultry instead of red meat can help you cut back on saturated fats. When possible, stay away from dark meat and choose leaner options like 93% lean ground turkey and skinless chicken breasts.
  • Lean red meat – Beef sirloin and pork tenderloin are healthier alternatives to fattier types of red meat, but it’s still better to limit how much red meat you eat.

6 legumes that can lower blood pressure

Legumes are packed with a lot of nutrients and can be a great protein replacement for foods that are high in saturated fat. They can help manage blood pressure since they tend to be high in nutrients such as magnesium and potassium. Legumes to consider include:

  • Pulses – A pulse is a dry edible seed from a pod. Dried beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas are the most common types of pulses. Pulses are a category of legumes that are especially healthy because they’re full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals – plus, they’re very low in fat.
  • Peanuts – Peanuts help with blood pressure because they have lots of heart-healthy nutrients, including arginine, an amino acid that helps to open up blood vessels and lower blood pressure. But make sure to watch for any added sodium in peanuts.
  • Soybeans – Eating soy has been shown to lower blood pressure. What’s more, soy products can be used in multiple ways. Great options for your diet include soy milk, soy yogurt, tofu, tempeh and edamame.

6 nuts and seeds to snack on for lower blood pressure

Studies show that eating nuts and seeds can help lower or manage blood pressure levels. But keep in mind that nuts and seeds can add a lot of calories and salt, so watch serving sizes and choose unsalted options.

While eating raw nuts and seeds is an option, there are other ways of incorporating them into your diet. For example, they can easily be added to yogurt, smoothies or baked goods for a nutritional boost.

Good nuts and seeds choices include:

  • Pistachios – These nuts are effective at lowering blood pressure, according to a review of clinical studies.
  • Almonds – Almonds are high in good fats. Plus, they are specifically mentioned as a food to eat in the DASH diet.
  • Chia seeds – These little seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants, all of which may help lower your blood pressure.
  • Flaxseed – Studies show that eating flaxseed could lower blood pressure. This may be because it contains an omega-3 fatty acid that helps prevent your arteries from narrowing.
  • Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin seeds have high levels of magnesium and antioxidants which can help lower blood pressure and keep your blood vessels healthy.
  • Walnuts – These nuts are a great source of healthy fats, fiber and nutrients. Some studies show that eating walnuts helps to lower blood pressure.

15 good fats that make a difference

You’ve likely heard that eating fat is bad for you. And while it’s best to avoid saturated fats (more on that later), eating healthy fats in moderation can help with your blood pressure and overall health.

The American Heart Association says that up to 25-30% of your daily calories can come from fat, and that most (if not all of it) should come from unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The following are examples of both types:

  • Monounsaturated fats – Avocados, peanut butter, olive oil, canola oil and sesame oil are great sources of monounsaturated fats.
  • Polyunsaturated fats – Walnuts, sunflower seeds, tofu, soybean oil, corn oil, salmon, whitefish, sardines, herring and anchovies are foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats.

10 sources of probiotics that may help high blood pressure related to stomach problems

You may have heard about probiotics for good gut health. But there’s also research showing probiotics can help high blood pressure due to stomach problems. Doctors are still studying the connection between blood pressure and digestion, but there are a growing number of studies showing that an imbalance in gut bacteria can contribute to high blood pressure, and that probiotics may help. The following are good dietary sources of probiotics. It’s also a great idea to talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic supplement for gut and heart health.

  • Dairy products – Yogurt and kefir are excellent sources of probiotics but can have a lot of added sugar. So choose options with little to no added sugar, like unsweetened Greek yogurt, that are packed with probiotics. Aged cheese also has probiotics, but it can be high in saturated fat and salt, so it’s best to limit how much cheese you eat.
  • Nondairy yogurts – Vegan yogurts also contain a healthy amount of probiotics. Good choices include yogurts made from cashews, almonds, coconut and oats.
  • Fermented foods – Probiotics are naturally occurring in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. Many fermented foods are higher in salt, but based on the research, consuming salt-fermented foods doesn’t increase blood pressure. Still, it’s best to limit these foods and talk to your doctor if you have questions.

6 drinks to lower blood pressure quickly

Your beverage choices can also help you reduce your blood pressure numbers. Water is always a heart-healthy option. Other drinks to consider include:

  • Green tea and black tea – These types of tea can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, but drinking green tea tends to lower blood pressure numbers more.
  • Fruit and vegetable juices – Eating whole fruits and vegetables tends to be healthier than drinking juice. But if you’re a juice fan, try to choose ones made from fruits and veggies that are known for lowering blood pressure. Good options include beet juice, tomato juice and pomegranate juice.

Foods to avoid with high blood pressure (and ways to cut back)

There are also foods that increase blood pressure. Limiting or avoiding these foods can make a big difference to your blood pressure numbers and overall health.

Eating less salt is a good start

Your body needs some salt to help support important heart and nerve functions. But most people get way more than they need, and too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and other heart conditions.

So how much salt is too much? For most people, a reasonable goal is to have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. If you can do even less (like no more than 1,500 mg), that’s even better. Unfortunately, most Americans get more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To start lowering your salt intake, get rid of the saltshaker on your table. And when cooking, instead of adding extra salt, use herbs, spices, vinegar, onions or garlic to enhance flavor.

Cutting out salt when shopping

You may know that many foods like meats, crackers, frozen meals and soups have high amounts of salt. But sodium can appear where you might not expect it. For example, did you know there can also be high sodium levels in condiments, cheese, peanut butter and canned vegetables?

When shopping, pick options labeled as “low sodium.” Many soups, condiments and cheeses have lower-sodium versions of the same recipes. Also take a look at the nutrition label for the % Daily Value (%DV) of sodium. A food that has 5% DV or less of sodium per serving is considered low salt. And a food with 20% DV or more of sodium is considered high in salt.

When it comes to a lower-sodium diet, remember that we’re playing the long game here. You don’t have to change everything at once. Instead, just make one or two changes every week until looking for low-sodium options becomes second nature.

Avoid or limit alcohol

Drinking a lot can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at greater risk for a wide variety of cardiovascular issues. So when you decide to drink, it’s important not to have too much.

If you’re a woman, try not to have more than one drink per day. For men, no more than two drinks per day. A standard drink is a 12 oz. beer, a 5 oz. glass of wine or 1.5 oz. of spirits. However, if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend a different daily limit, or suggest you cut out alcohol completely.

And just to clear something up: Red wine isn’t necessarily good for your heart – the research is still unclear, and we still suggest moderation.

Limit sweets and added sugars

High levels of sugar in your diet can be as bad for your blood pressure as high levels of salt. Eating too much sugar affects the production of nitric oxide in your blood vessels. When you’re low on nitric oxide, it can cause your blood vessels to narrow, leading to high blood pressure. There’s also research showing that your sugar intake affects how your body absorbs salt, which can further increase blood pressure levels.

You generally don’t need to worry about the sugar that naturally occurs in foods like fruits and vegetables. Instead focus on reducing the number of sweetened foods you eat. Try to limit sweets (including desserts and sodas) to less than 3-5 servings per week.

Avoid saturated fat and limit other fats

Eating less saturated fat helps lower cholesterol and keeps your heart healthier. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to less than 5-6% of your daily calories. In a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 120 calories (about 13 grams) should come from saturated fat.

Start by cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy products. And swap unhealthy cooking oils for healthier options – although it’s still best to avoid fried foods (even if they’re made with healthy oils) since they tend to be high in calories and can cause unintentional weight gain.

Consider limiting coffee (or highly caffeinated drinks) to a cup or two

Caffeine affects people differently. Most people (even those who don’t have high blood pressure) have a temporary spike in blood pressure after they have caffeine. Some people who drink a lot of caffeine have higher blood pressure levels than people who don’t. On the other hand, some people who drink a lot of caffeine develop a tolerance for it, so it doesn’t affect their blood pressure levels all that much.

If you have high blood pressure, it can help to limit your caffeine intake to 200 mg (about two cups of coffee) a day. You can also ask your doctor if they think you should cut back.

One of the best things you can do? Limit or avoid processed foods

You’re more likely to have high blood pressure if you eat a lot of overly processed foods. That’s because these foods tend to be higher in salt, sugar and saturated fat.

Most packaged foods are processed to some degree, which makes it nearly impossible to cut them out completely. So the goal is to try to find foods that have more good stuff and less of the stuff you want to avoid.

For example, while all boxed cereal is processed, choosing a whole grain cereal with only a handful of ingredients is better than a sweetened cereal that includes artificial colors and other ingredients that don’t provide nutritional benefits.

The DASH diet is the recommended diet for high blood pressure

The DASH diet gets a perfect score for a heart-healthy diet, according to the American Heart Association. The diet focuses on eating foods that reduce blood pressure and avoiding foods that can increase blood pressure (in other words, what we’ve covered in this post).

Following a DASH diet with reduced sodium intake provides great health benefits to people of all races and genders, even those who don’t have high blood pressure. The DASH diet is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, support weight loss and reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Food guidelines for the DASH high blood pressure diet

The DASH diet doesn’t require specialty foods. Instead, you make changes to the types of food you eat, and how much you eat of each. When following the DASH eating plan, the goal is to choose foods that are:

  • Low in saturated and trans fats
  • High in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber and protein
  • Lower in sodium

Food guidelines based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet

The DASH diet provides nutritional goals based on caloric needs. Here are the suggested servings per day or per week for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

Food Recommended servings
Grains 6 to 8 servings a day
Vegetables 4 to 5 servings a day
Fruits 4 to 5 servings a day
Fat-free or low-fat dairy products 2 to 3 servings a day
Lean meats, poultry and fish Six ounces or less per day
Nuts, seeds, or dry beans and peas 4 to 5 servings a week

The less salt you eat, the greater the benefit

The standard DASH diet recommends limiting salt intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, which aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. An alternative version of the DASH diet further restricts sodium to 1,500 mg per day – and the research shows that the more salt you cut out, the better.

Getting started with the DASH diet

Here are some simple changes you can make to start eating more foods that lower blood pressure naturally:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – Try to focus on whole fruits and vegetables, especially dark green, orange and yellow ones. Whole foods offer more nutrient value than juices or oils.
  • Substitute low-fat or fat-free dairy options – This includes things like milk, cheese and yogurt, where the idea is to still get the beneficial calcium without getting as much of the fat. One way could be in your daily coffee order: Ask for a “skinny” latte instead of a regular one.
  • Focus on eating good fats (unsaturated fats) – Good fats are an important part of a heart-healthy diet and can help you lower blood pressure since they’re good sources of potassium and magnesium. This recipe for salmon burgers with sweet potato fries is a tasty way to increase the healthy fats on your dinner table tonight.
  • When craving something sweet, reach for dark chocolate – Dark chocolate has many flavonoids, a natural antioxidant that can cause your blood vessels to open more widely to support better heart health. But you should still limit foods that are high in sugar and fat, and this includes chocolate.
  • Do a little menu research before eating out – There’s nothing wrong with dining out or picking up take-out. While it’s true that many restaurant foods can have higher levels of sodium and fat, you can still eat heart-healthy when you eat out. Try to choose items with fresh ingredients and skip heavy, fried foods.

There are other ways to lower high blood pressure

Taking control of your diet is a huge step toward lowering and managing high blood pressure, and it’s something to be proud of. Many people start with a high blood pressure diet. And when they’re ready, take the next step with other activities that are key to bringing blood pressure down to a healthier level, including exercising for heart health, reducing stress and quitting smoking.

For many people, a healthy diet and lifestyle go a long way towards managing blood pressure, but for others, these measures aren’t enough. Fortunately, there are medications and other treatments that can help get your blood pressure where it should be.

Your doctor is the best resource for lower blood pressure

If you would like to reduce your blood pressure numbers, your primary care doctor can help. They’ll work with you on a personalized treatment plan and help keep track of the progress you’re making. They can also show you how to accurately check your blood pressure at home.

Don’t wait to take charge of your heart health. With small changes to your diet – and support from your doctor – you may find your blood pressure coming down sooner than you think.