10 Best fruits and vegetables to lower high blood pressure
May 23, 2022
Nutrition

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.   

How do fruits and vegetables help heart health?

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. 

Best fruits for blood pressure

Citrus fruits 

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. 

Combining gentle movement like walking with lemon juice can reduce blood pressure. Want to add in more walking? Check out our article walking your way to fitness

Berries

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.  

Bananas

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

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. 

Avocado

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. 

Best vegetables for blood pressure

Carrots

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

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

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

Tomatoes are ripe with lycopene, vitamins A and B, and flavanoids. These wonderful nutrients can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure. 

Leafy greens

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. 

What does one portion size look like?

  • One medium piece of fruit (apple, banana, orange, avocado)
  • Berries -  lightbulb (1/2 cup)
  • Watermelon - 1-inch wedge (1 cup)
  • Carrots - dinner fork (1/2 cup)
  • Celery - 2 medium stalks 
  • Broccoli - tennis ball (1 cup)
  • Tomatoes - 2 small or 20 cherry tomatoes
  • Leafy greens - 2 to 3 tennis balls (2-3 cups)
  • Juice - 8 ounces (1 cup)
  • Dried fruit - golf ball (1/4 cup) 

Getting the most nutrients from fruits and vegetables

  • Canned - Choose natural juices and no added sugar
  • Juice or smoothies - Juices only count as a single serving (even if you drink two cups). Don't rely on these are your sole source of fruits and veggies. These can be high in calories and sugar. Opt for unsweetened juices. 
  • Dried fruit - Enjoy dried or dehydrated fruits as a nice treat (one serving per day). Because the fruit has lost so much of its bulk and water content, it's easy to munch away on them. 
  • Frozen - Keep frozen fruits and veggies on hand for convenience. I love washing and freezing fresh fruits and vegetables I haven't eaten (while they’re still good) to reduce food waste. 
  • Mix them in - Add raw or cooked vegetables to salads, smoothies, omelets, or pack them as snacks. 

Wrap up

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.  

Start your free trial today!