IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

20 foods that lower blood pressure — and which foods to avoid

Studies show that following the DASH diet, which is full of heart-healthy foods, may be just as effective as medication in controlling blood pressure.

Although almost half of all Americans have hypertension, or high blood pressure, only a small number of them are managing it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

High blood pressure puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke, both leading causes of death in the U.S.

What causes high blood pressure?

Blood pressure measures the pressure of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Normal blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, but healthy blood pressure is considered to be lower than 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).?

These numbers are the systolic (the pressure when your heart beats) and the diastolic (the pressure when your heart rests in between beats) measurements. When blood flow has too much pressure, it’s called hypertension or high blood pressure.?

Unfortunately, people with hypertension cannot feel the increased pressure against their arterial walls. For this reason, high blood pressure is often referred to as “the silent killer.”?

Over time, high blood pressure can cause damage to the arteries that can lead to health conditions including stroke, heart disease, kidney problems and dementia.?

There are multiple risk factors to consider, such as diabetes, family history and lifestyle choices like excess alcohol consumption, tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle or unhealthy diet.?

Foods that lower blood pressure

There are ways to manage hypertension with lifestyle changes, including eating a healthier diet and getting more physical activity. Reducing sodium with the DASH diet has been shown to be effective in managing blood pressure, and improving gut health may also help, according to new data.

If you are trying to reduce blood pressure, incorporate these 20 foods into your diet:

Avocado

Eating avocados five or more times per week led to a 17% decrease in hypertension in women, according to a 2023 observational study. Avocados are high in potassium, a mineral that benefits blood pressure by mitigating the effects of sodium, sending it out of the body through the urine. Excess sodium causes fluid retention, increasing blood volume which in turn increases pressure on the blood vessels.

Beets

Having one cup of beet juice can help reduce blood pressure, according to a study in the Journal of Hypertension. Beets are nitrate-rich, and nitrate converts to nitric oxide, which in turn helps improve the function of blood vessels by widening the vessels and allowing for greater blood flow.

Pomegranate

Eating pomegranate fruit and drinking its juice have been linked to lower inflammation, reduced blood pressure and reduced risk of certain cancers. The anthocyanin-rich fruit may also help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. You can use the juice and seeds (or, arils) in salads, smoothies, dressings and sauces.

Beet-Citrus Blast Smoothie

Lemons

Lemons and lemon juice have been linked to improvements in hypertension in multiple studies. The minerals and citric acid found in lemons and citrus fruits have been shown to lower blood pressure.

Dried apricots

Since potassium helps widen the blood vessels and assists the kidneys in excreting excess sodium from the body, apricots are a good choice if you are trying to improve hypertension. They provide 378 milligrams of potassium in half a cup, and dried fruit in general may help systolic blood pressure, according to one study.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate has been found to help reduce blood pressure via its high content of flavonoids. A 2021 study assessing flavonoid intake and its impact on gut microbiome found that participants with the highest consumption of flavonoid-rich foods such as dark chocolate (as well as red wine, berries and tea) had the lowest systolic blood pressure.

Coffee

A 2023 study in the journal Nutrients found that three or more cups of coffee a day may help lower blood pressure. The study found that these benefits are most likely due to the compounds found in the coffee bean. However, other studies have associated moderate (2 cups or more) coffee consumption with an increased risk of cardiac-related death in individuals with severe hypertension. (The risk was not seen in individuals who drank one or fewer cups daily.) If you love coffee, consider your personal risk factors before diving into multiple cups a day. Determining how well you metabolize caffeine and assessing how severe your hypertension is may help guide how much coffee your body can handle safely.

Almonds

A 2014 study compared two groups of individuals. One group consumed their typical diet, while another added 50 grams (about half a cup) of almonds a day for one month. After the study, the almond-eating group had greater amounts of antioxidants in the blood, better blood flow and lower blood pressure. In addition to almonds, pistachio and walnut consumption has also been associated with lower blood pressure.

Celery

Studies show that celery consumption may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress leading to a reduction in cardiac risk factors, such as high blood pressure.?

Spinach

Similar to beets, spinach is a nitrate powerhouse. Studies show that just one cup of leafy greens daily, like spinach (as well as kale, swiss chard, arugula, collard greens and bok choy), can significantly reduce the risk for heart disease. These studies often cite improvements in blood pressure as a critical component.?

Apples

Like dark chocolate, apples (specifically their peels) are abundant in flavonoids, which have been shown to improve blood pressure. Studies show that the more deeply hued the peel is, the more flavonoids the apple contains.

Wild salmon

Lean proteins play a role in reducing blood pressure, and wild salmon is one of the best options to consider due to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids. One study found that having 3 grams of omega-3’s a day (approximately a 4-5 ounce piece of salmon) could help lower blood pressure, and having more, the authors noted, may provide even more benefit for someone with hypertension. Other sources of omega-3s include chia and flax seeds and walnuts.

Extra virgin olive oil

A 2020 study in the journal Nutrients referred to olive oil as “the optimal fat choice in the management protocols for hypertension in both healthy and cardiovascular disease patients.” Olive oil is high in polyphenols and oleic acid, which may help reduce overall risk factors, like blood pressure, for heart disease.?

Pistachios

Multiple studies have found benefits to several aspects of heart health when pistachios are part of the diet.?Pistachios have also been found in studies to make an impressive impact on reducing blood pressure, with one systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials linking pistachio consumption with reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Yogurt

A 2021 study found that yogurt could help reduce blood pressure due to its high concentration of micronutrients calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are all associated with a lower risk of hypertension.

Pumpkin seeds

This fall snack should be a year-round treat if you have high blood pressure. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, a mineral found to help in controlling blood pressure. A 2019 animal study found that rats with 4% pumpkin seeds or pulp had 20% lower blood pressure than rats on the control diet.

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Yogurt Parfait

Cinnamon

Add some blood pressure-friendly ingredients to your spice cabinet. A 2021 randomized controlled trial found significant reductions in systolic blood pressure when 1500 mg of cinnamon was added to the diet for 90 days. In addition to cinnamon, other roots like turmeric and ginger may also play a beneficial role in blood pressure management.

Oregano

Oregano is an excellent addition to eggs, sauces, dressings and poultry. It’s also great for your blood pressure. A 2021 study analyzed herbs and spices combined with blood pressure response. The study found that individuals that consumed the most herbs and spices had lower blood pressure readings 24 hours later.

Garlic

Love garlic? So do your arterial walls. One study found that individuals with lower blood pressure levels were more likely to have garlic in their diet.

Greek Sheet Pan Chicken

Blueberries

The compound that gives blueberries their deep hue is the same one demonstrated in studies to lower blood pressure. Authors noted that the benefits to blood pressure were seen just two hours after eating blueberries.

Foods to avoid for high blood pressure

Limiting certain foods may also help in controlling high blood pressure.

First, individuals with hypertension are recommended to limit sodium intake to about 1,500 milligrams or less per day. That’s the equivalent of a little over a half-tsp. You can manage this by limiting your intake of processed and ultraprocessed foods and processed red meat products.

You can also look for low-sodium versions of canned foods, such as soup, cheese, bread, tomato juice, pickles, condiments, frozen foods and deli meats. You should also limit consumption of products with added sugar, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, baked desserts and candy. Finally, since even moderate alcohol consumption was found to be a significant risk factor for hypertension, you may want to limit it or avoid it altogether.

In addition to diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management and weight loss, as well as limiting alcohol and quitting smoking, can also go a long way in controlling high blood pressure.

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news