Following a heart-healthy diet may help lower your blood pressure. Eating foods with nutrients like potassium and magnesium may be especially helpful.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the most common preventable risk factor for heart disease (1).
Over 1 billion people around the world have high blood pressure. It is defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) values (the top number) of 130 mm Hg or more, diastolic blood pressure (DBP, the bottom number) of more than 80 mm Hg, or both (2).
Lifestyle changes and dietary modifications can also help lower blood pressure levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Doctors may also prescribe medications to reduce blood pressure levels, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
Including certain foods in your diet, especially ones in potassium and magnesium, may help lower your blood pressure levels (1, 3).
Here are the 17 best foods for high blood pressure.
1. Citrus fruit
Citrus fruits may help lower blood pressure. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, that could help keep your heart healthy by reducing risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure (4).
Citrus fruits can include:
A 2021 study reviewed the last 10 years of information on fruit and management of high blood pressure. The researchers found that eating roughly 530 to 600 grams of fruit per day (about four oranges) was beneficial for blood pressure management. Researchers have linked citrus fruits, in particular with a lower possibility of high blood pressure (5).
Drinking orange and grapefruit juice may help reduce blood pressure. But grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interfere with common medications for lowering blood pressure, so consult a healthcare professional before adding this fruit to your diet (4).
2. Salmon and other fatty fish
Fatty fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which have significant heart benefits. These fats may help reduce blood pressure levels by lowering inflammation.
A 2022 study looked at 71 studies and health information from 4,973 people to determine the relationship between omega-3 fats from the diet or supplements and blood pressure. The largest benefit for lowering blood pressure occurred with a daily amount between 2 to 3 grams of omega-3 fats (about a 3.5-ounce serving of salmon) (6).
Higher omega-3 fat levels in the diet, including fish, may also lower the risk of high blood pressure in young adults with no history of heart disease or diabetes (7).
3. Leafy greens
Swiss chard and spinach are two examples of leafy greens that may help lower blood pressure.
These leafy greens are a source of the nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, which support optimal blood pressure levels. For instance, 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard delivers 20% and 36% of your daily potassium and magnesium needs, respectively (8).
A 2022 study found that among females with high sodium levels from their diet, every 1 gram increase in daily potassium from the diet was linked with a 2.4 mm Hg lower SBP (9).
Spinach is a leafy green high in a plant-based compound known as nitrate, which may lower blood pressure. It’s also loaded with antioxidants, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which can support heart health (10).
An older, small study of 27 people found that those who ate 16.9 ounces (500 milliliters) of a high nitrate spinach soup daily for 7 days experienced reductions in both SBP and DBP, compared with those who consumed low nitrate asparagus soup (10).
More recent clinical research does not show a similar effect of high-nitrate leafy greens on lowering BP, so additional studies are needed to further explore these results (11).
4. Nuts and seeds
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Nuts and seeds may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Examples of nuts and seeds to eat as part of a balanced diet focused on lowering blood pressure include:
- pumpkin seeds
- chia seed
Many nuts and seeds offer a concentrated source of nutrients important for blood pressure control, including fiber and arginine. Arginine is an amino acid needed to produce nitric oxide, an essential compound for blood vessel relaxation and blood pressure reduction (12).
While some research shows a positive relationship between eating nuts or seeds and lower blood pressure, the evidence is mixed in clinical studies (13, 14, 15).
Scientists believe the conflicting results could be because clinical studies involving nuts or seeds and blood pressure measurements might be too short in time to identify any potential effects on lowering blood pressure (16).
Longer studies may help researchers better understand how nuts or seeds may lower blood pressure.
Legumes are rich in nutrients that help regulate blood pressure, such as magnesium and potassium. Numerous observational studies suggest legumes may help lower high blood pressure levels (17).
But a 2023 review of 16 clinical studies found no relationship between eating legumes and lowered blood pressure levels. The authors suggest that additional studies that are larger and longer may help explain how legumes correlate with lower blood pressure in other studies (18).
Berries offer impressive health benefits, including the potential to reduce heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure. Berries are a rich source of antioxidants, including anthocyanins, which are pigments that give berries their vibrant color.
Anthocyanins can increase nitric oxide levels in the blood and reduce the production of molecules that restrict blood flow. This may help lower blood pressure levels. But more research in humans is needed to confirm this (19).
Some berries that may reduce blood pressure include (19, 20):
A 2020 review of clinical studies found various types of berries, including whole, freeze-dried, or juice forms, reduced SBP by over 3 mm Hg. The strongest effect on SBP in this study was for cranberry juice (20).
Eating whole grains like amaranth may help lower your blood pressure levels. Studies show that diets rich in whole grains may decrease your likelihood of high blood pressure. You could also try these other whole grains if amaranth isn’t for you:
- whole oats
- brown rice
- whole grain bread
- whole wheat pasta
A review of 28 studies found that every 30-gram increase in daily whole grains eaten was linked with an 8% reduced chance of high blood pressure (3).
Amaranth is a whole grain that’s particularly high in magnesium. One cooked cup (246 grams) provides 38% of your daily magnesium needs (21).
8. Olive oil
The oil from the fruit of the olive tree has numerous health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.
A 2020 review of studies found that due to the nutrients and plant-based compounds in olive oil, such as the omega-9 fat oleic acid and antioxidant polyphenols, it can be a beneficial part of a diet that aims to lower blood pressure (22).
Crunchy, sweet, and nutritious carrots are a staple veggie in many people’s diets. Carrots are high in plant-based compounds that may be involved in various health processes, such as managing blood pressure.
A 2023 study found that the possibility of high blood pressure went down 10% for roughly every 100 grams of carrots (about 1 cup of grated raw carrots) eaten daily (23).
Not only are eggs nutrient-dense but research also suggests that they can be part of a balanced eating plan for blood pressure management.
A 2023 study among 2,349 adults in the United States found that eating five eggs or more per week was linked with an SBP level that was 2.5 mm Hg lower than people who ate less than half of an egg per week. Egg eaters also had a significantly lower likelihood of developing high blood pressure over the long term (24).
Eating eggs also does not appear to be linked with other risk factors for heart disease beyond blood pressure, and the latest evidence seems to support adults in good health eating up to 3 eggs per day (25).
11. Tomatoes and tomato products
Tomatoes and tomato products are rich in many nutrients, including potassium and the carotenoid pigment lycopene.
Lycopene has been significantly linked with beneficial effects on heart health, and eating foods high in this nutrient may help reduce heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure (26).
A review of 21 studies concluded that consuming tomato and tomato products improves blood pressure and may help reduce your chance of heart disease and dying from heart disease (27).
Additional studies have shown an inconsistent relationship between a diet with tomatoes and blood pressure, so more clinical studies may be needed (28).
Broccoli is known for its many beneficial effects on health, including the health of your circulatory system. For example, adding this cruciferous veggie to your diet may be a smart way to reduce blood pressure.
Broccoli is loaded with flavonoid antioxidants, which may help lower blood pressure by enhancing blood vessel function and increasing nitric oxide levels in your body (29).
A study that included data from 187,453 people found that those who consumed four broccoli servings or more per week had a lower likelihood of high blood pressure than those who consumed broccoli once a month or less (30).
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Yogurt is a nutrient-dense dairy product packed with minerals that help regulate blood pressure, including potassium and calcium (31).
A review of 28 studies found that consuming three servings of dairy per day was linked with a 13% lower possibility of high blood pressure, as well as that a 7-ounce (200 gram) increase in the amount of dairy eaten per day had a relationship with a 5% reduction in risk for high blood pressure (3).
A 2021 study also showed that among people with high blood pressure, having a serving of yogurt per day was linked with lower SBP levels. No effects were found for people with blood pressure in the typical levels (32).
The researchers suggest that increasing daily yogurt consumption by one level was linked with a 1.44 mm Hg reduction in SBP. For example, increasing the daily amount of yogurt you eat from 2 to 4 times per week to 5 to 6 times per week may benefit people with high blood pressure (32).
14. Herbs and spices
Certain herbs and spices contain powerful compounds that may help reduce blood pressure by helping blood vessels relax (33).
Some herbs and spices that may help lower blood pressure according to results from animal and human research include (34, 35, 36):
- celery seed
- black pepper
- onion powder
- chili powder
- red pepper
More recently, a 2021 study on 71 people with risk factors for heart disease found that seasoning foods with 6.6 grams (1.3 teaspoons) of 24 different herbs and spices daily was linked to lower blood pressure after 4 weeks when compared with lower dosages of herbs and spices (3.3 grams/day and 0.5 grams/day) (36).
Potatoes have several plant-based compounds that could be useful in managing blood pressure levels.
A baked medium potato (173 grams) with the skin contains 941 milligrams of potassium. This is 20% of your daily requirement and more than a medium banana provides (37, 38).
A 2021 study fed 30 adults at high risk for or with high blood pressure four possible diets, including one diet with 1,000 milligrams of potassium from potatoes (boiled, baked, pan-heated), for 17 days.
At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that the diet with potatoes reduced SBP as part of an overall healthy diet providing roughly 3,300 milligrams of potassium per day (39).
Kiwifruit is exceptionally high in vitamin C and contains other nutrients involved in blood pressure regulation, including fiber, potassium, and magnesium (40).
They also provide various plant-based polyphenol and antioxidant compounds. That’s why researchers believe kiwifruit could help lower risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure.
A 2022 study of 43 healthy Asian adults from New Zealand found that eating two kiwis at breakfast every day for 7 weeks resulted in a 2.7 mm Hg lower SBP than the group not eating kiwifruit (41).
Additional research with more people over longer periods of time may help confirm the role kiwi could play in helping lower blood pressure.
17. Lean meats
The United States Department of Agriculture defines “lean meat” as any meat with less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams (about a 3.5-ounce serving).
Lean animal proteins might include any of the following meat or poultry foods that provide high quality protein and nutrients involved in blood pressure management:
- skinless chicken breast
- beef sirloin
- pork tenderloin
- 93% lean ground turkey
An older study with a small sample of older adults with elevated blood pressure found that when lean pork was substituted for chicken or fish in a modified DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet for 6 weeks, it lowered blood pressure comparable to a more traditional DASH diet (42).
Research from scientists in China supports varying your protein sources for a lower possibility of developing high blood pressure. Of eight possible different protein sources, including unprocessed red meat and poultry, people with the highest variety score (four different proteins or higher) had a 66% lower chance of developing high blood pressure (43).
Lean meats can be part of a balanced eating plan for lowering blood pressure if they meet your personal taste, budgetary, and cultural food needs.
Frequently asked questions
The following includes frequently asked questions about foods that may help reduce or prevent high blood pressure.
What food lowers blood pressure quickly?
No single food can “quickly” lower blood pressure. But, having a diet rich in foods with certain nutrients (like potassium) may help lower or maintain healthy blood pressure over the long term.
Experts recommend the DASH diet for people with high blood pressure or those looking to maintain optimal levels. It includes foods like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Can drinking water lower blood pressure?
While drinking water won’t immediately bring down your blood pressure, staying hydrated is important to supporting an optimal blood pressure range. Water can help you meet your daily hydration needs.
Do bananas lower blood pressure?
Bananas are a source of potassium, a mineral involved in maintaining blood pressure. While blood pressure can’t be lowered by eating bananas, it can count toward increasing your daily potassium intake.
If you don’t like bananas, you may enjoy other foods that are high in potassium, such as kiwifruit. A diet with potassium-rich foods may help lower blood pressure.
What foods should you avoid if you have high blood pressure?
If you have high blood pressure, consider significantly limiting or avoiding foods high in sodium, added sugars, and saturated fat. You can also try swapping fattier cuts of meat for leane options.
The bottom line
Along with other lifestyle modifications, a healthy diet can significantly lower blood pressure levels and help reduce your heart disease risk.
If you have high blood pressure levels or want to maintain healthy blood pressure, adding a few foods listed in this article to your diet may help. It may be best to speak with a doctor or registered dietitian before making significant changes to your eating plan.