Two out of three Americans over 60 have hypertension (that’s blood pressure of 140/90 or above), putting extra strain on your ticker as it works to pump blood through your body. People with hypertension and even those diagnosed with prehypertension (BP between 120/80 and 139/89) are at serious risk for health problems like heart disease or stroke. The good news? Exercise and healthy habits can help lower your blood pressure—and so can the following foods.
Dish up a serving of these foods for a natural approach to lowering blood pressure. If you do have high blood pressure, be sure to talk to your doctor as well.
Don’t just eat ’em, drink ’em too. When people with high blood pressure drank 8 ounces of beet juice, their blood pressure dipped an average of 10 points for up to 24 hours afterwards, notes a study published in Hypertension. While this study was relatively small (and beet’s long-term effects on blood pressure weren’t studied), research suggests that eating nitrate-rich foods like beets and green leafy vegetables could help people with hypertension by widening blood vessels and aiding blood flow.
Besides sipping beet juice, slice and roast beets to top a salad with goat cheese.
Research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition now suggests walnuts, long touted as healthy, may lower blood pressure. When adults ate about ½ cup of walnuts daily for four months, they had better blood flow, lower blood pressure and smaller waists. Plus, they didn’t gain weight even though they added over 350 calories of walnuts daily. Walnuts deliver healthy fats, magnesium and fiber, which may be the reason they’re good for BP.Try It!
Eating 3 tablespoons of these nutty seeds daily for 6 months helped people with hypertension lower their blood pressure by an average of 10 percent, says a study published in the journal Hypertension. People who didn’t eat flaxseed saw no change or even a slight increase. Researchers believe the anti-inflammatory effect of the omega-3 fats in combination with lignans (a phytoestrogen) and fiber may be the reason flax is good for blood pressure.
Sprinkle ground flaxseeds into your yogurt, smoothie or homemade granola.
Vegetarians had lower blood pressure compared to omnivores by an average of 7 points systolic (the top number) and almost 5 points diastolic in a JAMA Internal Medicine review. If you can't commit to going meatless full time, try eating vegetarian 1 day a week to start. Cook up these must-try meatless recipes that include pastas, pizza, tofu and more.