The #1 Food to Eat to Lower Blood Pressure, According to a Dietitian
As a registered dietitian, one of the top questions I get is: What should I eat to lower my blood pressure? Since over 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association, it's no wonder that finding a natural remedy is a popular request. While there are many foods that are known to be a good choice for those managing their blood pressure, the food I recommend most often to help lower blood pressure tastes great, is affordable and is easily accessible—watermelon.
While watermelon may not be top-of-mind when it comes to blood-pressure management, it's a food that checks so many necessary boxes. Yes, that juicy and sweet treat that drips down your arm when you take a bite (or a sip) can be an effective remedy to help manage blood pressure. Here's why.
Why Is Watermelon the Best Food for Blood Pressure?
Pictured recipe: Watermelon, Cucumber & Corn Salsa
The red and refreshing fruit that is loved by many is not only sweet and satisfying to eat, but it may offer some serious health benefits when it comes to blood pressure. Specifically, watermelon is one of the best foods to help support a healthy blood pressure because it's a naturally sweet treat that doesn't contain added sugars, and it is rich in three blood-pressure supporting nutrients: L-citrulline, lycopene and potassium.
When your heart pumps blood through your body, the force causes pressure against your blood vessels. Having a healthy blood pressure means that the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is not too strong or "high." However, if the force is too high and causes too much pressure over time, you may be diagnosed with high blood pressure. The goal should be to take steps to lower high blood pressure to a healthy range to prevent further complications.
To naturally lower blood pressure, it is often recommended to follow a diet that is lower in sodium, added sugars and saturated fats. Additionally, it is recommended to focus on foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts—foods that have been shown to lower blood pressure in certain situations. The good news is that there are lots of foods that help to lower blood pressure, so there are plenty of options to enjoy throughout the year.
Watermelon Is Rich in an Amino Acid Which May Support Healthy Blood Pressure
Watermelon isn't just a pretty food with a sweet taste. This fruit is one of the best sources of L-citrulline, an amino acid that may help maintain healthy blood flow. In fact, one study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon could significantly reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals both at rest and while under stress, partially due to the effects of L-citrulline.
L-citrulline specifically helps encourage a healthy blood pressure by producing nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes blood vessels and supports flexibility in arteries. These effects help the flow of blood, which may lower high blood pressure. Watermelon consumption has specifically been linked to a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Watermelon Contains Lycopene, a Blood-Pressure Reducing Antioxidant
Pictured recipe: Watermelon Mint Mocktail
Enjoying foods that are naturally red or pink in color—think tomatoes, guava and, of course, watermelon—will give your body a boost of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to favorable effects on high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders. In fact, higher blood lycopene levels have been associated with lower levels of hypertension in people who are overweight and obese.
Watermelon Boasts Blood-Pressure-Balancing Potassium
Potassium is a nutrient that is found in many foods, including watermelon. Since the American Heart Association recommends increasing potassium intake in adults with elevated blood pressure, enjoying some watermelon salsa or a tomato, watermelon and avocado salad may help you meet your potassium quota for the day in a satisfying way.
Watermelon Has No Added Sugars
Added sugars are often found in items like drinks and desserts, and in many processed and packaged foods. Although many people use added sugars to satisfy a sweet tooth, research suggests that there is a link between consuming added sugars and increased blood pressure, particularly in older women. The good news is that the same negative effect has not been reported with natural sugar intake, like the sugars naturally found in watermelon. So, for those who have a wicked sweet craving, reaching for a slice of watermelon instead of a slice of cake may be a good solution.
See More: Healthy Watermelon Recipes
Simple Ways to Eat More Watermelon
Obviously, the simplest way to enjoy a watermelon is to slice it up and eat it on its own. But, there are so many other ways to eat watermelon all year long. From whipping up a simple Watermelon Gazpacho to freezing fresh chunks to enjoy as an icy treat, the possibilities are endless. And nothing beats a fresh Watermelon Agua Fresca to quench even the strongest thirst. Including watermelon in your diet can give your body a boost of L-citrulline and lycopene without any added sugars. So, the next time you take a juicy bite of that craveable red melon, know that you are not only getting a bite of a naturally delicious food, but you are also fueling your body with nutrients hat may help manage high blood pressure too!