If you’re part of the nearly half, 46 percent, of Americans living with high blood pressure, it’s vital to change up your eating habits. Foods that are rich in nutrients and low in sodium can help lower blood pressure naturally – and it doesn’t hurt if they taste good, too. Try incorporating these foods into your diet to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Salmon and trout
Fresh fish is a great source of lean protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish like salmon contain vitamin D, which has also been linked to decreased blood pressure. Try replacing saturated and trans fats like fatty beef or fried foods with one to two servings of fresh fish every week. This simple swap can help reduce inflammation, reduce the buildup of arterial plaque and lower your triglycerides, all of which contribute to heart disease.
Trade your sugary breakfast for a lower calorie, protein-packed Greek yogurt. Refined foods like granola bars, cereal and breakfast pastries can cause a spike in blood sugar, which can increase blood pressure. Proteins not only steady blood sugar, but they’ve also been linked to reducing blood pressure.
Amping up your intake of vegetables is key to reducing high blood pressure. Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale or watercress can be added to virtually any dish – from salads to smoothies, omelets and pastas. Leafy greens will also provide your daily dose of fiber, iron and vitamins A and C. Just don’t top your greens-packed meal with high sodium, high calorie toppings like salad dressing, cheese or bacon.
Good news for chocolate lovers: eating one square of dark chocolate each day may lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can increase the body’s production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring chemical that prompts blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure. Pair your dark chocolate with berries or an orange slice for an extra dose of vitamins and flavor.
Not only do red, blue and purple potatoes look pretty on your plate, but they’re great for your heart, too. Colorful potatoes contain pigments called anthocyanins, which can clean up free radicals, reduce inflammation and decrease high blood pressure. Try roasting potatoes with a splash of olive oil and your favorite low-sodium spice mixture for a satisfying, nutrient-dense dinner.
Because potassium can reduce the effects sodium has on the body, it’s important to get the recommended 4,700 milligrams per day. One medium banana can provide about 422 milligrams of potassium, plus magnesium and filling fiber. Add slices of banana to your cereal, fruit salad or smoothie, or try freezing bananas for a healthy, low calorie dessert.