According to the American Heart Association, nearly 75 million Americans have high blood pressure. While there are often no symptoms, untreated high blood pressure can cause serious health complications like heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Fortunately, a healthy diet for high blood pressure can significantly improve this potentially fatal problem. Naturally lower high blood pressure to an acceptable level with these foods that are good for your heart—and taste good, too.
Along with being a great way to get protein, fatty fish like mackerel and salmon are an excellent source of heart-healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon also has a healthy dose of vitamin D, which can be beneficial for lowering high blood pressure. Swapping one or two meals a week with fish can help lower high blood pressure by reducing inflammation and lowering your triglycerides, which can contribute to heart disease. Don’t like the taste of fish? Check the supermarket for supplements with omega-3s and vitamin D.
Getting an adequate amount of calcium in your diet is good for your bones and helps with high blood pressure prevention. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are all good sources of calcium and healthy food to lower blood pressure. Try changing up your breakfast or snack routine with Greek yogurt, which has a healthy dose of protein, but be sure to watch for sneaky sugars. Some yogurts can have as much sugar as granola bars, cereal and pastries. These foods cause a spike in blood sugar, which can increase blood pressure.
Greens are part of a well-rounded diet, and a beneficial food for high blood pressure. Up your vegetable intake with dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale or watercress. Along with being packed with vitamins and nutrients—think fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C—greens can help reduce high blood pressure. Extra veggies can easily be added to any meal. Just toss a handful into smoothies, pastas or your morning omelet. Adding a side salad? Watch for sodium- and calorie-laden toppings like extra dressing, high-fat cheese and bacon.
Eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can be part of a healthy diet for high blood pressure. That’s because it’s packed with nutrients that can positively affect your health. Along with being one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet, dark chocolate can increase a naturally occurring chemical called nitric oxide that prompts blood vessels to dilate to lower blood pressure. Just one square of dark chocolate a day may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease, so make it part of a healthy diet for high blood pressure. Tip: Try adding dark chocolate and fresh fruit to low-fat, Greek yogurt for a delicious snack that’s low in sugar.
There’s a lot more to potatoes than your average French fry. Did you know that potatoes come in red, blue and purple varieties that are good for your heart? These colorful potatoes contain anthocyanins that clean up free radicals, reduce inflammation and decrease high blood pressure. Try roasting potatoes with olive oil and low-sodium spices instead of deep-frying.
An essential mineral, your body requires a minimum of 100 milligrams of potassium a day to support key functions. It reduces the effects of sodium on the body, making it a smart food to lower blood pressure. Bananas also have beneficial magnesium and fiber that can be added to cereal, fruit salad or even dipped in dark chocolate for a nutrient-packed dessert.
Learn more about high blood pressure prevention from the cardiology team at HealthONE.