Research has shown that certain foods — such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oily fish — can lower blood pressure. Combining these foods in the diet may lead to long-term health benefits.
Medications, dietary changes, and other lifestyle modifications can reduce high blood pressure, or hypertension, while lowering the likelihood of developing associated conditions. High blood pressure increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
Types of food that may help include:
- fruits, such as kiwi and oranges
- vegetables, for instance, green leafy vegetables and beets
- nuts, for example, pistachios and walnuts
- oily fish, such as mackerel
- spices, such as cinnamon
In this article, we discuss foods that can help reduce high blood pressure, and provide scientific evidence.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Many researchers have found that certain foods can lower high blood pressure. We look at some foods that may help and how to incorporate them into the diet.
In general, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers a serving to be:
- 1 cup of cooked or raw vegetables or fruit
- 1 cup of 100% fruit juice
- 2 cups of raw leafy salad greens
- half a cup of dried fruit
For most ages, the USDA recommends consuming around 2 cups of fruit per day and 3 cups of vegetables per day, although this varies slightly according to age and sex.
Blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid.
In one older study, the researchers looked at data for over 34,000 people with hypertension over 14 years. Those with the highest intake of anthocyanins — mainly from blueberries and strawberries — had an
To enjoy berries:
- eat them as a snack or sweet treat after meals
- add them to smoothies
- sprinkle them on oatmeal for breakfast
A serving of blueberries is around 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or half a cup of dried blueberries. A serving of strawberries is around 7 strawberries.
Which other foods are rich in antioxidants?
Bananas contain potassium, which can help manage hypertension. One medium-sized banana contains around
According to the
The Office of Dietary Supplements advises that males aim to consume
Other potassium-rich foods include:
People with kidney disease should consult a doctor before increasing their intake of potassium, as too much can be harmful.
A serving would be 1 large banana, 1 cup of sliced banana, or two-thirds of a cup of mashed banana.
Drinking beet juice may reduce blood pressure in the short and long term, because it contains dietary nitrate.
Tips for use include:
- drinking 1 glass of beet juice per day
- adding beets to salads
- preparing beets as a side dish
A serving of beet is around 1 cup, which is around 2 small beets or 1 large one.
4. Dark chocolate
Cacao, an ingredient in dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, an antioxidant. Flavonoids may help reduce blood pressure, according to the
However, it notes that a person may not be able to consume enough flavonoids in dark chocolate for it to have significant benefits.
The AHA says that a small amount of chocolate from time to time can be part of a balanced diet. It advises, however, that people eat it because they enjoy it, not for health reasons.
A daily serving of kiwi can help manage mildly high blood pressure, a
People who ate 3 kiwis per day for 8 weeks saw a more significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those who ate 1 apple per day for the same period. The study authors note that this may be due to the bioactive substances in kiwis.
Kiwis are also rich in vitamin C. In an
Kiwis are easy to add to lunches or smoothies. One cup of kiwi, or 2–3 kiwifruits, makes up 1 serving.
Which other foods contain vitamin C?
Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline.
The body converts citrulline to arginine, and this helps the body produce nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes blood vessels and encourages flexibility in arteries. These effects aid the flow of blood, which can lower high blood pressure.
In one older study, adults with obesity and mild or prehypertension took watermelon extract containing 6 grams (g) of L-citrulline/L-arginine.
After 6 weeks, the participants saw a reduction in blood pressure in the ankles and brachial arteries. The brachial artery is the main artery in the upper arm.
In a small
People can consume watermelon:
- as juice
- in salads, including fruit salads
- in smoothies
- in a chilled watermelon soup
One serving of watermelon is 1 cup of chopped fruit or 1 slice of around 2 inches.
Oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which
Ways of eating oats include:
- having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast
- using rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs to give texture to burger patties
- sprinkling them on yogurt desserts
8. Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in nitrates, which help manage blood pressure.
Examples of leafy greens include:
- collard greens
- mustard greens
- Swiss chard
To consume a daily dose of green vegetables, a person can:
- stir spinach into curries and stews
- saute Swiss chard with garlic as a side dish
- bake a batch of kale chips
A serving of spinach is 2 cups of fresh leaves. A serving of raw cabbage is 1 cup.
Garlic has antibiotic and antifungal properties, many of which may be due to its main active ingredient, allicin.
- blood pressure
- arterial stiffness
Garlic can enhance the flavor of many savory meals, including stir-fries, soups, and omelets. It can also be an alternative to salt as a flavoring.
10. Fermented foods
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that
Sodium is a risk factor for high blood pressure, and experts advise people to limit their salt intake. However, a 2017 study did not find that eating salt-fermented vegetables increased the risk of high blood pressure, despite the high sodium content.
The effects of probiotics on blood pressure appeared more beneficial when the participants consumed:
- multiple species of probiotic bacteria
- probiotics regularly for more than 8 weeks
- at least 100 billion colony-forming units per day
Fermented foods to add to the diet include:
- apple cider vinegar
Probiotic supplements are another option.
11. Lentils and other pulses
Lentils provide protein and fiber, and
The authors of an
People can use lentils in many ways, including:
- as an alternative to minced beef
- adding bulk to salads
- as a base for stews and soups
12. Natural yogurt
Yogurt is fermented dairy food.
The participants with high blood pressure who consumed more yogurt had lower systolic blood pressure and lower arterial pressure than those who did not.
To enjoy unsweetened yogurt:
- add 1 spoonful to a plate of stew or curry
- mix with chopped cucumber, mint, and garlic as a side dish
- use it instead of cream on fruit and desserts
- spoon it onto a combination of oatmeal, nuts, and dried fruit for breakfast
Pomegranates contain antioxidants and other ingredients that
People can consume pomegranates whole or as juice. When buying prepackaged pomegranate juice, check to ensure that there is no added sugar.
Cinnamon may help reduce blood pressure, according to a
To incorporate cinnamon into the diet, a person can:
- add it to oatmeal as an alternative to sugar
- sprinkle it on freshly chopped fruit
- add it to smoothies
Several studies have found that eating nuts of various types can help manage hypertension.
Opt for unsalted nuts and:
- snack on them plain
- add them to salads
- blend them into pestos
- use them in main dishes, such as nut roast
People should not consume nuts if they have a nut allergy.
16. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits contain hesperidin, an antioxidant that may benefit heart health.
The results indicate that regularly consuming orange juice can help lower systolic blood pressure and that hesperidin contributes to this effect.
People can consume citrus fruits:
- as drinks, for example, by making orange juice or squeezing lemon into water
- whole or in fruit salads, in the case of oranges and grapefruit
- as lemon juice, squeezed on salads for flavor instead of salt
17. Oily fish
The AHA recommends consuming
Examples of oily fish are:
- albacore tuna
Some fish contain mercury, and people should check the latest
18. Tomato extract
Tomato contains lycopene, an antioxidant that may be beneficial for heart health.
While some foods may relieve hypertension, others can increase the risk of the condition.
Studies show that a modest decrease in salt intake over
The USDA recommends limiting sodium intake to a maximum of
Results of a
Regular consumption of alcohol can significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure. In females, even moderate consumption can have this impact. There is no evidence that a low to moderate intake has any benefits for heart disease or hypertension, according to a
Processed foods often contain added salt and harmful fats. A
Here, learn about 50 foods to avoid if a person has high blood pressure.
As well as dietary measures, the
- Exercise regularly.
- Learn some strategies for managing stress.
- Avoid or quit smoking.
- Reach or maintain a moderate body weight.
- Work together with a doctor, including taking any medications they recommend.
Here are some questions people often ask about lowering blood pressure.
How can I lower my blood pressure immediately?
There is no way to lower blood pressure quickly at home. A person should follow a plan of diet, exercise, and possibly medication to lower their blood pressure over time.
If blood pressure is over
Can drinking water lower blood pressure?
When should I contact a doctor about high blood pressure?
Optimal blood pressure is up to
Dietary and lifestyle choices can help manage high blood pressure.
A diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, oats, nuts, lentils, herbs, and spices can be beneficial. In contrast, salt, alcohol, and processed foods may worsen hypertension.
A doctor can help a person make a plan that involves exercise, food choices, and other measures to manage high blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues.