When it comes to a heart-healthy, blood pressure friendly diet there’s a lot of “no.” No red meat, no salt, no sweets—It’s enough to send your stress levels through the roof (which is also bad for your blood pressure).
The bad news is there’s no single secret of how to lower blood pressure to a healthy level, which according to the American Heart Association is less than 120/80 mm Hg. The good news is that the dietary path to a healthier heart has a whole lot of “yes.”
We put together a list of just a few of the “yes” foods to help you reduce and control your blood pressure.
10 HEART-HEALTHY FOODS
These addictive, snack-time favorites are packed with healthy fats that taste good and are good for you. Just be sure to lose the salt. If you’re not a fan of pistachios or you’re just looking for variety, other tree nuts, like almonds and walnuts, are also great for reducing blood pressure, both the systolic and diastolic readings (the upper and lower numbers).
This one may seem obvious, but how familiar are you with spinach’s super powers? Not only does it deliver good stuff like folic acid and potassium, it also flushes out the bad stuff, like excess sodium. Popeye’s penchant aside, spinach isn’t the only green with these super powers. Basically, if it’s green, leafy, and (preferably) raw, your heart will thank you.
Pretty much everything in this pint-sized superfood is working to make your heart healthy. Potassium and antioxidants keep your blood pumping. Even the color, a pigment called anthocyanin, helps keep arteries wide and flexible. That means they not only lower your blood pressure, but also improve your overall heart health.
If all this blueberry talk has you thinking about parfaits, we have some good news. Low-fat yogurt, and all its calcium-rich goodness is a great food to reduce your blood pressure. Calcium helps keep your blood vessels working like they should. That means you can layer on the heart-healthy and guilt-free goodness.
“An apple a day helps to lower blood pressure naturally,” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it’s just as true. Even if your blood pressure is where it should be, the antioxidants in this sweet treat help to stave off issues down the road.
This fruit of the ficus often gets overlooked unless it’s followed by Newton. Excess sodium in the diet can lead to potassium deficiency, which causes high blood pressure. Rich in potassium, figs restore balance and help lower blood pressure. This sweet, chewy, and slightly crunchy fruit deserves to break free of the cookie and into your heart-healthy diet.
This kitchen essential can be a real lifesaver. Packed into this multitasker’s arsenal is a whole bunch of fatty acids and antioxidants. Polyphenols, a protective antioxidant, keeps your blood vessels flexible and help lower high blood pressure. Use it as a butter replacement and you’ll reap even more benefits on your path to reducing your blood pressure.
When it’s not warding off vampires and bringing some serious flavor to the party, garlic helps to give your heart a break. This beautiful bulb can boost nitric oxide levels, which helps your blood vessels relax. That means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.
Caffeine addicts, rejoice! Often labeled as a troublemaker, caffeine finds its redemption in tea. While a single cup won’t do much, long-term intake can noticeably reduce your blood pressure and your risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. Green tea is best, but you’ll also get these benefits from black tea.
Yes, there is a catch. Like all good things, chocolate is better in moderation, or at least it is better for you. That being said, a bite of dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao) contains antioxidants that have been shown to help lower blood pressure. Just don’t be tempted to eat the whole bar!
With options this diverse and delicious, it’s easy to say yes to a heart-healthy diet. Of course, nutrition is only part of the picture. Regular exercise and any medication, both prescribed by your doctor, can work with these super foods to help reduce blood pressure.