High blood pressure (hypertension) affects more than 1/3 of adults in the United States. Individuals with high blood pressure are twice as likely to develop heart disease. Lifestyle modifications are the easiest ways to improve your heart health.
Eating more whole foods, reducing sodium intake, getting in more movement, and adding relaxation exercises to reduce stress are all actions you can start making now. In this post, we cover the best fruits and vegetables to lower blood pressure, along with tips for portion sizes, and prep ideas to maximize the health benefits of what you’re eating.
Food plays a vital role in heart health. Nutrients you get from food like potassium improves heart functioning. Fruits and vegetables also aid digestion and help maintain ideal body weight, reducing strain on your heart.
Oranges and lemons are the best citrus fruits for people with high blood pressure. They are all high in citric acid, flavonoids, and vitamins and minerals necessary for heart health. Consult your doctor before eating grapefruit and grapefruit juice as they can interfere with the effectiveness of some blood pressure medications.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are the most popular berries for heart health. A study found that people who ate a lot of berries had an 8% lower risk of high blood pressure. They are rich in antioxidants and anthocyanins, which help improve the flow of blood through the body and reduce blood pressure.
We mentioned potassium earlier, and that's what bananas are jam-packed with (422 mg of potassium, to be exact)! The American Heart Association recommends 4,700 mg of potassium daily. What's so great about potassium? It reduces sodium in your body by passing it through your urine.
Watermelon contains citrulline, which relaxes blood vessels (improves blood flow). One case study and several animal studies found that consuming watermelon juice can reduce bad cholesterol by 50% and plaque in arteries by 50%. Don't go chugging watermelon juice just yet. These are early studies. But if you like watermelon, indulge to your heart's content (pun intended) by eating it plain, in smoothies, or as a juice.
A study at Harvard found that eating one avocado a week reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 16%. Avocados, just like bananas, are a good source of potassium. So we won't repeat the benefits of that here. However, avocados are also a source of healthy fats, oleic acid, fiber, folate, and magnesium.
Carrots are high in phenolic compounds, like watermelon, which relax blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Carrots are best enjoyed raw (for heart health) as they tend to lose some nutrients when cooked. But if you only like them cooked, that's fine too. A favorite trick of mine is lightly spraying thinly sliced carrots with olive oil and roasting them for 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Remember to flip them halfway through. The carrots become naturally sweet and delicious.
Celery contains phthalides that relax blood vessels (a bit of a theme going on here). Unlike carrots, celery has more heart-healthy properties when cooked.
Broccoli is an excellent source of antioxidants which (you guessed it) relax blood vessels. Broccoli is perfect for overall cardiovascular health and not just reducing blood pressure. To get the maximum benefits, eat four servings a week.
Tomatoes are ripe with lycopene, vitamins A and B, and flavanoids. These wonderful nutrients can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure.
Leafy greens are tasty and effective at boosting heart health. They contain nitrates which can help reduce blood pressure for up to 24 hours! The best greens include spinach, kale, collard greens, fennel, lettuce, mustard, and swiss chard.
The lesson for today is - to eat the rainbow. A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will help you get a diverse set of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Start where you are and gradually add in other fruits and vegetables. Choose something you like to begin with. The ultimate goal for a healthy balanced diet is to eat a total of five servings per day.
If you're ready to make lifestyle changes and take charge of your heart health, CoPilot's coaches are here to support you. They use a one-size-fits-one approach to create a plan tailored to your health and life!
Your coach will help you make doable action plans around regular exercise, nutrition, and stress reduction. Best of all, you get a 14-day free trial to jumpstart your health journey.