High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Therefore, it is necessary to control blood pressure levels within a normal range.
The normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg. The top number is the systolic, which indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats. The bottom number is the diastolic, which indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart is at rest.
If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHG, then you have prehypertension. That’s means you don’t have hypertension but you are likely to develop it. If your blood pressure is consistently higher than or equal to 140/90 mmHg, then you have high blood pressure or hypertension.
High blood pressure can make your heart work too hard and put you at risk for heart problems. The good news is hypertension can be prevented or reversed by making a few simple lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, cutting back on alcohol, and eating a healthy diet.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), eating a diet of low-sodium, nutrient-rich foods can help keep blood pressure in a healthy range. Here are some of the best foods to eat if you want to lower your blood pressure naturally.
Avocados are high in potassium and low in salt. Studies confirm that eating foods high in potassium and low in sodium can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing heart attack and stroke.
You can add avocado to salads and sandwiches, or enjoy them as a savory side dish.
Carrots are a good source of potassium, which have been shown to be effective in reducing high blood pressure. It helps maintain normal blood pressure by regulating heart and kidney functions.
Add two tablespoons of honey to a glass of carrot juice. Drink it on empty stomach twice a day – morning and evening – for better results.
Studies have shown that potassium-rich foods such as bananas can help lower blood pressure by balancing the effects of salt on the body.
One study in particular suggested that just eat two bananas a day can reduce your blood pressure by 10 percent.
Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids. One study found that consuming these compounds may prevent hypertension and help lower blood pressure .
Berries are easy to add to your diet. You can put them on your cereal or keep frozen berries on hand for a quick and healthy dessert.
5. Dark chocolate
If you are a dark chocolate lover, then this is another delicious option. Research has shown that flavanols in cocoa products are associated with the formation of nitric oxide, a substance that widens blood vessels and eases blood flow, and thereby lowers blood pressure .
However, not all chocolate will do, you need to buy a good quality of dark chocolate that has 60-70 percent of cocoa.
Garlic is one of the most powerful natural remedies for high blood pressure. It helps relax blood vessels by stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which in turn lowers blood pressure, especially systolic blood pressure.
A 2008 study published in the journal BMC Cardiovascular Disorders suggests that garlic preparations are superior to placebo in reducing blood pressure in individuals with hypertension .
Eat one raw garlic cloves daily on an empty stomach. You can also take garlic supplements.
Onions are rich in quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to have positive effects in lowering blood pressure. Quercetin acts by conferring anti-inflammatory properties to blood vessels, preventing them from narrowing or widening, and thus helps prevent high blood pressure.
You can eat a medium-sized, raw onion every day to control your blood pressure. Alternatively, you can mix half a teaspoon of onion juice and honey and then consume it twice a day for 1-2 weeks.
Oatmeal is high in fiber and research shows that eating a diet rich in fiber can help maintain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Additionally, oatmeal contains both potassium and calcium, which have been shown to be effective in reducing high blood pressure.
9. Oily fish
Numerous studies show that omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel, can effectively reduce blood pressure and prevent thrombosis.
To get the benefit of omega-3s, try eating 2 to 3 ounce portions of oily fish per week. If you don’t like fish or are a vegetarian, you can still get omega 3 fatty acids by eating chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, or other plant sources.
10. Pomegranate juice
Pomegranate juice has antioxidant polyphenols, which can reverse atherosclerosis and thereby lower blood pressure.
In addition, pomegranates ability to act as an ACE inhibitor. Inhibiting ACE helps blood vessels to relax and dilate, thus lowering blood pressure and allowing more blood flow to the heart.
11. Green tea
Daily consumption of green tea may significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
A study conducted in Taiwan found that those who drank more than two and a half cups of green tea per day for at least one year had a 65 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than those who did not .
Also, early clinical research suggests that taking green tea extract daily for 3 months or drinking green tea three times per day for 4 weeks reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
However, green tea contains caffeine, which can cause a short, dramatic increase in blood pressure if taken in excess, so drinking too much green tea can’t be expected to lower blood pressure.
Read also: 6 side effects of green tea and how to prevent them
12. Hibiscus tea
Drinking hibiscus tea daily can significantly lower elevated blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.
In a study published in the journal of nutrition, researchers found that people with mild hypertension who drank 3 cups of hibiscus tea per day for 6 weeks showed significant decrease in blood pressure .
Other research shows that taking a hibiscus extract by mouth for 4 weeks may be as effective as the prescription drug captopril for reducing blood pressure in people with mild to moderate high blood pressure .
Beets are high in nitric oxide, which opens up the blood vessels and thereby reduces blood pressure.
A study at Queen Mary University of London found that when individuals with high blood pressure consumed a cup of beet juice a day, their blood pressure levels returned to normal within 24 hours.
You can make your own beet juice or simply cook and eat the whole root. You can also bake them into chips.
Celery contains phytochemicals known as phthalides, which relax the muscle tissue in the artery walls, enabling better blood flow and in turn, lowering blood pressure.
According to the researcher from Hypertension Institute of Nashville, eating four stalks of celery per day may be helpful in preventing hypertension.
Potatoes contain high amounts of potassium and magnesium, two minerals that can help to lower blood pressure.
Higher potassium intake helps the body becomes more efficient at getting rid of excess sodium, thereby lowering your blood pressure. Magnesium helps in improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
Spinach is packed full of heart-healthy nutrients, like potassium, magnesium, and folate, which all contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.
You can use spinach in salads, scrambled into omelettes, blended into smoothies, stews or soups.
Tomatoes are rich in potassium that helps lower blood pressure by flushing out excess sodium from the body.
To reduce hypertension, try to eat one cup of fresh tomatoes daily. You can add them in salads and sandwiches, or use them for making sauces and soups.
Pistachios are low in sodium content and high in potassium. This combination works perfectly for regulating the blood pressure levels in the body. One study found that a diet with one serving of pistachios a day helps reduce blood pressure .
You can eat them plain as a snack, or add them to crusts, pesto sauces, and salads.
Just like the pistachios, almonds are low in sodium and high in potassium content, so snacking on them may help to control blood pressure. But, make sure to choose unsalted or unseasoned ones.
Apart from being a good source of potassium, yogurt also contains calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients that are associated with healthy blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, women who ate five or more servings of yogurt a week experienced a 20 percent reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure.