5 Foods That Will Instantly Lower Blood Pressure

by Kwame Otchere
lower blood pressure

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and contributes to over 7 million deaths per year worldwide (1). About 60% of Americans are pre-hypertensive or hypertensive (2).

Lowering blood pressure reduces the risk of damaging arterial plaque which in turn lessens the chances of coronary heart disease and strokes (3).

Regular exercise and modifying your diet can drastically improve your blood pressure. Here are 5 food that help to lower blood pressure.

1) Nitrate-rich vegetables

Dietary nitrates are compounds that exist in green leafy vegetables and beetroot. Oral bacteria convert dietary nitrates to nitrites and this increases nitric oxide bioavailability (4).

Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and regulates blood pressure (5).  

Many clinical trials demonstrate that consuming nitrate-rich vegetables lowers blood pressure across several age groups (6, 7) and different health conditions (8-12).

lower blood pressure

Due to the short nature of current clinical research, potential long-term benefits remain unclear.

A large 15-year observational study in Australia found that consuming at least 76.4 mg of dietary nitrates per day reduced the risk of vascular disease by 6.6% when compared to women that consumed less than 52.7 mg per day (13).

These findings occurred despite similar diet quality and lifestyle behaviors. However, longer clinical trials are required to determine causality.

Nitrate rich vegetables like lettuce, beetroot, spinach, parsley and cabbage can help lower your blood pressure and contain many other vital nutrients so make sure you include these foods in your diet is a must. 

Anti-bacterial mouthwash can interfere with nitric oxide production from dietary nitrates and may negatively impact blood pressure (14).

So also consider using a natural probiotic mouthwash instead or using probiotic chewing gum to reap the full benefits of nitrates.

2) Cacao

Cacao beans are seeds of the fruit grown on the Theobroma cacao tree, found in parts of Africa and South America

. Cacao is best-known for its role in producing chocolate but research is revealing various health benefits.

lower blood pressure

The Kuna Indian community living on an Island off the coast of Panama scarcely develop high blood pressure despite consuming more salt than most western populations (15).

Lifestyle factors likely cause these low hypertension rates because Kuna Indians living in urban environments commonly develop high blood pressure despite consuming similar foods (15).

However, Island-dwelling Kuna Indians uniquely drink several glasses of a cocoa-based beverage everyday throughout their lifetime (16).  

Cacao is abundant in a flavanol called epicatechin that increases nitric oxide (17).

A meta-analysis of 35 clinical trials with over 1800 participants revealed that cacao supplementation reduces blood pressure by about 2 mmHg in healthy adults and 4 mmHg in people with high blood pressure (18).

Raw cacao powder is the healthiest form and you add 1-2 teaspoons to smoothies, added to yoghurt, porridge, hot chocolate or you can make your own treats.

The European Food Safety Authority recommends 200 mg of cacao flavanols per day, obtained by 2.5 grams of flavanol-rich cacao powder or 10 grams of flavanol-rich dark chocolate as part of a balanced diet (19).

3) Garlic

Garlic has been used for cooking and traditional medicine for over 5000 years in various countries (20).

It consists of carbohydrates, sulphur compounds, fibre, amino acids and its rich in phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

High concentrations of phenolic compounds which have antioxidant properties can be found in garlic (21).

lower blood pressure

The sulphur compound allicin plays a key role in garlic’s blood pressure-lowering capabilities.

They increase hydrogen sulphide which also plays a role in relaxing our blood vessels (22).

Clinical trials demonstrate that garlic reduces systolic blood pressure by 5.1 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.5 mmHg (23).

The effect is even stronger in hypertensive patients, with a systolic blood pressure reduced by 8.7 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 6.1 mmHg, with a dose of at least 600 mg per day (23).

4) Tree nuts

Consuming tree nuts also reduces the risk of hypertension. For example, a large cohort study involving 15966 found that eating tree nuts everyday reduced the risk of hypertension by 18% even when exercise, diet quality, multivitamin use and cholesterol were taken into account (24).

lower blood pressure

Tree nuts provide several nutrients involved in regulating blood pressure. Examples include calcium, potassium and arginine (25-27).

Tree nuts also contain very little sodium so researchers have studied the association between tree nuts and blood pressure.

Nuts additional provide many polyphenols that are associated with good health (28).

Consuming 30 grams of mixed nuts per day reduced blood pressure in a 4-year clinical trial involving subjects at high risk of cardiovascular disease (29). Systolic blood pressure was reduced by 7.26 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 3.26 mmHg compared to the control group.

Nut intake also increased blood polyphenols and this was positively associated with increased nitric oxide.

The findings suggest that polyphenols existing in nuts lowers blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide (29).  A handful of mixed nuts provide a great snack alternative to highly processed junk food.

4) Fish

Omega-3 polyunsaturated acids are vital for human health but they cannot be produced within our bodies so they must be obtained from food. Health benefits include improved endothelial function and reduced atherosclerosis (30).

lower blood pressure

Fish delivers a rich source of omega-3 and high intakes are associated with many health benefits.

For example, a study in Ecuador found that people consuming at least 5 portions of oily fish had on average a blood pressure 2.3 mmHg lower than individuals who consumed less (31).

Clinical research demonstrates that omega-3 reduces blood pressure, most likely by relaxing blood vessels (32).

Taking 1 to 2 grams per day reduces systolic blood pressure but to also reduce diastolic blood pressure requires at least 2 grams per day (32).

High blood pressure can result in a number of health complications if not correctly managed. This can include complications such as heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart failure and metabolic syndrome. Embracing a healthy lifestyle by regular exercise and making changes to your diet can drastically improve your blood pressure.

Reference list

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