8 Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

Salmon on cutting board

Plant-based diets and diets high in fruits and vegetables are strongly associated with lower blood pressure -- so much so that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) officially recommends adopting healthy eating practices as one of the primary actions to take to prevent or lower high blood pressure and hypertension.

DASH, which stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension," is the eating plan recommended by the NIH. It features foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, with a particular focus on fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. The eight foods on this list are DASH-approved. Not only are they packed with nutrients that support overall health, but they also help lower blood pressure. Here's how:

1. Celery

Mark Houston, a physician and medical director of the Hypertension Institute of Nashville at Saint Thomas Hospital, recommends celery to patients as a natural remedy for lowering blood pressure. This recommendation isn't anything new: Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been prescribing celery or celery root to patients with high blood pressure for more than a century.

How it works: Celery contains phytochemicals known as phthalides, which relax the muscle tissue in the artery walls, enabling increased blood flow and, in turn, lowering blood pressure.

How much: According to Houston, eating four stalks of celery per day may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. For a boost of protein, add a tablespoon of unsalted peanut butter or almond butter; both are high in monounsaturated fat (the heart-healthy kind).

2. Cold-water fish

Cold-water fish are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, which are famous for their cardiovascular benefits. In particular, omega-3s lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Wild (not farmed) salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, trout, halibut, herring, and sardines are among the best sources.

How it works: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids: The human body can't make them, so we need to get them from the food we eat. Omega-3s seem to positively influence several cardiac risk factors, such as blood triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), heart rate, and atherosclerosis (plaque in artery walls).

How much: According to the joint guidelines from the FDA and the EPA, two six-ounce servings per week of most cold-water fish is a safe amount for most people, including pregnant women and nursing mothers, to reap the health benefits with minimal risk from exposure to toxins. If you bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or take blood-thinning medication, talk to your doctor about potential complications.

3. Broccoli

Nutritionally speaking, broccoli is a red-carpet regular, connecting the worlds of scientific research and natural health. This cruciferous veggie is hailed as a super-food because of its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And when it comes lowering blood pressure, broccoli sells itself.

How it works: Broccoli is a potent package of fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C, all nutrients that may help lower blood pressure. One cup of steamed broccoli provides nearly 200 percent of the vitamin C you need each day. Researchers aren't sure how, exactly, vitamin C helps. Theories range from the vitamin promoting the excretion of lead to calming the sympathetic nervous system to protecting nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow. But the results are the same: Antioxidant vitamin C helps bring down blood pressure.

How much: For the myriad health benefits you can reap from regular consumption of broccoli, most people would do well to eat at least one serving a day. For variety, eat it raw with salsa or hummus, or steamed with olive oil and lemon. If you have a juicer, run the stalks and leaves through for a spicy green sipper.

4. Dandelion

For more than a century, dandelion has been used as a cure-all for countless conditions and ailments in cultures around the world, particularly in its native Asia and Europe. The entire plant is edible, from leaves to roots. And in addition to lowering blood pressure, it's good for the liver, eyes, and skin.

How it works: A natural diuretic, dandelion helps reduce blood pressure by releasing excess sodium without the loss of potassium (as occurs with some over-the-counter diuretics). This is doubly important because excess sodium raises blood pressure by constricting blood vessels, while potassium helps regulate it. Dandelion is also loaded with magnesium, a mineral that is critical to proper function of the heart and muscles.

How much: Eat fresh dandelion greens in a salad, sauté dandelion roots in a stir-fry, or drink dried dandelion in a tea. Incorporate dandelion into your diet as often as you can; it's really good for you, and in any form you find it (except on your lawn), chances are that it's organic -- grown without harmful pesticides or herbicides.

More foods that lower blood pressure

5. Whole-grain oats

In a 12-week study comparing whole-grain oat-based cereals to refined wheat-based cereals, researchers reported that 73 percent of hypertensive participants in the oats group were able to cut out their antihypertensive medications, or reduce them by half. The remaining participants also experienced substantially reduced blood pressure.

How they work: The fiber and magnesium found in oats both have beneficial effects on blood pressure. In addition, oats help slow atherosclerosis, the plaque buildup that occurs in blood vessels.

How much: Aim for one serving (about three-fourths of a cup) of whole-grain oats per day, or at least six servings per week. For a boost of blood-pressure-lowering calcium and potassium, eat whole-grain oatmeal topped with skim milk (or unsweetened soy milk) and banana, or sprinkle oat bran on cereal and salads. Loose oats also make an excellent thickener for soups and stews.

6. Black beans

Legumes boast a high fiber-to-protein ratio that you won't find in any other type of food. This combination helps maintain lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, both of which help keep artery walls healthy, which promotes lower blood pressure.

How they work: Black beans are a nutrient-dense source of fiber and magnesium, which are essential for healthy blood pressure levels. What puts them at a distinct advantage over other foods, though, is the folate you'll find in these legumes. Folate, also known as folic acid in its synthetic form, is a B-complex vitamin that appears to lower blood pressure (especially systolic blood pressure) by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow.

How much: 400 micrograms of folate is the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Aim for that as a minimum; 800 micrograms daily has shown significant benefit in reducing blood pressure in multiple large-scale studies. One cup of cooked black beans provides 256 micrograms of folate. Many cereals are also fortified with folic acid.

7. Berries

Calorie for calorie, berries are among the most nutritional foods on the planet when it comes to fiber and antioxidant capacity. All berries are great for you, but blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are tops for their ability to help lower blood pressure, thanks to high doses of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and other plant compounds.

How they work: All three berries are high in fiber, but raspberries rank highest: Just one cup delivers more than 33 percent of the daily value, for a mere 60 calories. A cup of strawberries offers 136 percent of the daily value for vitamin C. And blueberries contain a compound called pterostilbene that helps prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Last but hardly least, berries are anti-inflammatory.

How much: Eat at least one serving (one cup) of berries per day, fresh or frozen.

8. Low-fat dairy

In a Dutch study of hypertension in adults 55 and older, researchers found that low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt may help prevent hypertension.

How it works: The modest amount of fat in low-fat dairy is important because it increases the bioavailability of calcium, making it easier for the body to absorb. In addition, milk and dairy products offer blood-pressure-lowering magnesium and potassium.

How much: In a 2006 study from Harvard Medical School, researchers found that people who ate more than three servings per day of low-fat dairy showed a systolic blood pressure reading of 2.6 points less than those who ate less than half a serving per day. So aim to include skim milk, cheese, and yogurt into your three daily meals, or in between.


3 months ago, said...

My blood pressure which was just taken when I went to the dentist was 203/128 that normal for me usually when I am admitted into the hospital its 222/183, why is my pressure always so high. I'm going to change my eating habits and go on a fruit and vegetable diet and see if that helps.


4 months ago, said...

Why weren't beets included in this list?


7 months ago, said...

Recent visit to doctor showed a rise in blood pressure. Have noted the 8 Foods that lower blood pressure and wonder if beet juice can be consumed through a powder. Thank you


11 months ago, said...

My Blood Pressure just taken is 126 over 79 should I be concerned.


about 1 year ago, said...

75 years old, just trying to make 10 more. thanks for the info


about 1 year ago, said...

Would low fat cottage cheese be ok for the low fat dairy


about 1 year ago, said...

This was a wonderful read, although many of us know all these things, we need to be reminded, thank you


about 1 year ago, said...

Very useful, confidence building and morale boosting information is provided in this article which is a prerequisite to overcoming this pernicious malady of High BP that I have been suffering from for the last many years. It has left me with hope and optimism that I can get back to good


about 1 year ago, said...

very helpful stuff .


about 1 year ago, said...

Thanks for helpful information.


over 1 year ago, said...

I normally have a bpif 112/68. Lately my bp has been elevated walking causes me to become dizzy. Ive passed out twice. I am stressed due to income loss. TwShould i go on meds


over 1 year ago, said...

very helpful


over 1 year ago, said...

How has this diet worked for people??


over 1 year ago, said...

Working out is not enough to stay healthy. We need to eat right and get proper rest. Stress also adds to this.


over 1 year ago, said...

Great Share !!! As most people have High Blood Pressure – also commonly referred as the Silent killer – is the biggest cause of death in the USA (more than cancer, aids, car accidents…) today. Very Informative post about foods that help lower blood pressure Thanks For Sharing :)


over 1 year ago, said...

I have a seafood allergy. Is there any option for me?


over 1 year ago, said...

It's always good to get reminded of how we can help ourselves via dietary changes and avoid the temptation of fast foods, which are major contributors to poor health. Thank you


almost 2 years ago, said...

PRAISE GOD!!!!! I've been in SOOOO MUCH PAIN,my Blood Pressure has skyrocketed and now my head has began to hurt. I'm believing God for a complete TURN-AROUND in less than 24 hours. I'm taking the much needed magnesium.


almost 2 years ago, said...

Mild hypotension does not require treatment and adding electrolytes to the diet can improve the condition. Here are some home remedies for low blood pressure. http://www.healthdoyen.com/home-remedies-for-low-blood-pressure.html


almost 2 years ago, said...

appreciate having this information available. Thank you


almost 2 years ago, said...

I would be grateful to back off BP meds cause the meds are making my hair come out. And yes, a list of theservices foods would be great. However, I am so desperate, I can recall the celery, raspberry, broccoli, black beans, wild salmon, and dandelions already. I'm now on a mission. Wish me MO Hair. Laughing Thanks


almost 2 years ago, said...

I really benefited from these informative briefs today. It increased my knowledge of blood pressure lowering foods and since I presently am on Metropolol, this will help me immensely! To hopefully lower my pressure and get off of the blood pressure pills. Thank you for your study.


almost 2 years ago, said...

Give me a break! Dandelions?? Just pick 'em up out of the grass and eat 'em?? Hummmmmm-interesting


almost 2 years ago, said...

Everything that helps reduce high blood pressure is high in potassium. I am fighting both high blood pressure and high potassium. Working on reducing both. One thing I need to do that is very important---EXERCISE. I am 78 yrs. of age.


almost 2 years ago, said...

It responded well to my question regarding blood pressure. Mine is a bit high


almost 2 years ago, said...

I have been taking medication for high BP for 5/6 years - and have had a couple of changes in medication because of cough and breathlessness. I have recently developed some swelling to my left leg. Have recently bought a BP recording piece of kit my BP records at around 122 over 60. I wonder if I am a victim of white coat nerves and hence a high reading at the surgery. I would really like to stop this medication - has anyone had the same experience? I also have Parkinson's.


about 2 years ago, said...

very usefully thank you


about 2 years ago, said...

my grandmom is high blood pressure ,i know this knowledge i can tell her.she can measure her blood pressure sometimes,because we bought a home blood pressure monitor . http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O0PZEWU


about 2 years ago, said...

my mom has high blood preasure. she has angioplasy 5month ago. she has sometimes high blood preasure. what can we do to low blood preasur


over 2 years ago, said...

It must be pointed out that salmon in itself is good. However, farm raised salmon cannot be consumed more than bimonthly because of irons and elements while wild salmon can be consumed weekly. A good and informative piece on broccoli. Have a discussion on the importance of raw as compaired with cooked garlic for nutrition.


over 2 years ago, said...

Thank you


almost 3 years ago, said...

A link to print out a shopping list for these 8 foods, would be great. Also added to that, serving suggestions per day/per week??? hmmmm! Holistic comment vs these 8 foods, especially celery?? I am interested to know more about both views. This article is a couple years old...have things changed since? Thank you!! :-)


almost 3 years ago, said...

I have had serious problems with HBP and my cardiologist has put me on three prescriptions to lower it. I had to postpone surgery for a torn rotator cuff due to extreme high pressure. Articles such as this are very helpful to me. Sincerely, Beverly L.


about 3 years ago, said...

I want to read about the research journal celery, because I wanted to know more about the celery to reduce hypertension


about 3 years ago, said...

I found this information very helpful.


about 3 years ago, said...

I have concerns about my high blood pressure and your site has many useful tips. I look forward to receiving information via email from you. Thank you. Ron Beck


over 3 years ago, said...

Go to the health store and ask for wheatgrass powder, or grow it fresh, a shot of that a day will sort you out nicely, did the job for me along with sensible diet and exercise