Research has shown that certain foods can lower blood pressure. Combining these foods in the diet may lead to long-term health benefits.

Medications, dietary changes, and other lifestyle modifications can reduce high blood pressure, or hypertension, while lowering the likelihood of developing associated conditions. High blood pressure increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

Types of food that may help include:

  • fruits, such as kiwi and oranges
  • vegetables, for instance, green leafy vegetables and beets
  • nuts, for example, pistachios and walnuts
  • oily fish, such as mackerel
  • spices, such as cinnamon

In this article, we discuss foods that can help reduce high blood pressure, and provide scientific evidence.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Many researchers have found that certain foods can lower high blood pressure. We look at some foods that may help and how to incorporate them into the diet.

In general, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers a serving to be:

  • 1 cup of cooked or raw vegetables or fruit
  • 1 cup of 100% fruit juice
  • 2 cups of raw leafy salad greens
  • half a cup of dried fruit

For most ages, the USDA recommends consuming around 2 cups of fruit per day and 3 cups of vegetables per day, although this varies slightly according to age and sex.

1. Berries

Blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid.

In one older study, the researchers looked at data for over 34,000 people with hypertension over 14 years. Those with the highest intake of anthocyanins — mainly from blueberries and strawberries — had an 8% lower risk of high blood pressure than those with a low anthocyanin intake.

However, some experts say there is not enough evidence that blueberries reduce blood pressure.

To enjoy berries:

  • eat them as a snack or sweet treat after meals
  • add them to smoothies
  • sprinkle them on oatmeal for breakfast

A serving of blueberries is around 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or half a cup of dried blueberries. A serving of strawberries is around 7 strawberries.

Which other foods are rich in antioxidants?

2. Bananas

Bananas contain potassium, which can help manage hypertension. One medium-sized banana contains around 422 milligrams (mg) of potassium.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), potassium reduces the effects of sodium and alleviates tension in the walls of the blood vessels.

The Office of Dietary Supplements advises that males aim to consume 3,400 mg of potassium daily and females — 2,600 mg.

Other potassium-rich foods include:

People with kidney disease should consult a doctor before increasing their intake of potassium, as too much can be harmful.

A serving would be 1 large banana, 1 cup of sliced banana, or two-thirds of a cup of mashed banana.

3. Beets

Drinking beet juice may reduce blood pressure in the short and long term, because it contains dietary nitrate.

A 2015 study found that people with hypertension who drank 250 milliliters (ml), or about 1 cup, of red beet juice every day for 4 weeks had lower blood pressure. The researchers recorded an average fall in blood pressure of 7.7/5.2 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) over a 24-hour period.

Tips for use include:

  • drinking 1 glass of beet juice per day
  • adding beets to salads
  • preparing beets as a side dish

A serving of beet is around 1 cup, which is around 2 small beets or 1 large one.

4. Dark chocolate

Cacao, an ingredient in dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, an antioxidant. Flavonoids may help reduce blood pressure, according to the AHA.

However, it notes that a person may not be able to consume enough flavonoids in dark chocolate for it to have significant benefits.

The AHA says that a small amount of chocolate from time to time can be part of a balanced diet. It advises, however, that people eat it because they enjoy it, not for health reasons.

5. Kiwis

A daily serving of kiwi can help manage mildly high blood pressure, a 2015 study suggests.

People who ate 3 kiwis per day for 8 weeks saw a more significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those who ate 1 apple per day for the same period. The study authors note that this may be due to the bioactive substances in kiwis.

Kiwis are also rich in vitamin C. In an older study, people who consumed around 500 mg of vitamin C per day for about 8 weeks saw significant improvements in their blood pressure readings.

Kiwis are easy to add to lunches or smoothies. One cup of kiwi, or 2–3 kiwifruits, makes up 1 serving.

Which other foods contain vitamin C?

6. Watermelon

Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline.

The body converts citrulline to arginine, and this helps the body produce nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes blood vessels and encourages flexibility in arteries. These effects aid the flow of blood, which can lower high blood pressure.

In one older study, adults with obesity and mild or prehypertension took watermelon extract containing 6 grams (g) of L-citrulline/L-arginine.

After 6 weeks, the participants saw a reduction in blood pressure in the ankles and brachial arteries. The brachial artery is the main artery in the upper arm.

In a small 2019 study, 27 people consumed either watermelon juice or another drink before exercise. The females who drank watermelon juice did not experience a rise in blood pressure after exercise, although the males did.

People can consume watermelon:

  • as juice
  • in salads, including fruit salads
  • in smoothies
  • in a chilled watermelon soup

One serving of watermelon is 1 cup of chopped fruit or 1 slice of around 2 inches.

7. Oats

Oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which may have benefits for heart health, including blood pressure.

A 2020 rodent study found that beta-glucan and avenanthramide C, both present in oats, reduce levels of malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress in hypertensive rats. These results suggest that ingredients present in oats can help prevent high blood pressure and protect heart health in other ways.

Ways of eating oats include:

  • having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast
  • using rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs to give texture to burger patties
  • sprinkling them on yogurt desserts

8. Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables are rich in nitrates, which help manage blood pressure.

Some research suggests that eating at least 1 cup of green leafy vegetables per day can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Examples of leafy greens include:

To consume a daily dose of green vegetables, a person can:

  • stir spinach into curries and stews
  • saute Swiss chard with garlic as a side dish
  • bake a batch of kale chips

A serving of spinach is 2 cups of fresh leaves. A serving of raw cabbage is 1 cup.

9. Garlic

Garlic has antibiotic and antifungal properties, many of which may be due to its main active ingredient, allicin.

A 2020 review concludes that garlic in general, and specifically Kyolic garlic, can reduce:

  • blood pressure
  • arterial stiffness
  • cholesterol

Garlic can enhance the flavor of many savory meals, including stir-fries, soups, and omelets. It can also be an alternative to salt as a flavoring.

10. Fermented foods

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that may help manage blood pressure.

In 2020, researchers analyzed data for 11,566 adults aged 50 years or older in Korea. The results suggest that women who had gone through menopause and ate fermented soy foods had a lower risk of hypertension. However, this did not appear to be true for men.

Sodium is a risk factor for high blood pressure, and experts advise people to limit their salt intake. However, a 2017 study did not find that eating salt-fermented vegetables increased the risk of high blood pressure, despite the high sodium content.

The effects of probiotics on blood pressure appeared more beneficial when the participants consumed:

  • multiple species of probiotic bacteria
  • probiotics regularly for more than 8 weeks
  • at least 100 billion colony-forming units per day

Fermented foods to add to the diet include:

Probiotic supplements are another option.

11. Lentils and other pulses

Lentils provide protein and fiber, and experts say they can benefit the blood vessels of people with hypertension.

The authors of an older study analyzed the effects of a pulse-rich diet on rats. The rats consumed a diet that was 30% pulses, including beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. Consuming pulses appeared to decrease levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.

A 2014 review of human trials, with a total of 554 participants, found that consuming pulses may lower blood pressure in people with and without hypertension. However, the authors note that more studies are necessary.

People can use lentils in many ways, including:

  • as an alternative to minced beef
  • adding bulk to salads
  • as a base for stews and soups

12. Natural yogurt

Yogurt is fermented dairy food.

A 2021 study looked at data for people with and without high blood pressure to see whether there was a link between fermented dairy products and hypertension.

The participants with high blood pressure who consumed more yogurt had lower systolic blood pressure and lower arterial pressure than those who did not.

To enjoy unsweetened yogurt:

  • add 1 spoonful to a plate of stew or curry
  • mix with chopped cucumber, mint, and garlic as a side dish
  • use it instead of cream on fruit and desserts
  • spoon it onto a combination of oatmeal, nuts, and dried fruit for breakfast

13. Pomegranates

Pomegranates contain antioxidants and other ingredients that may help prevent high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

An older study from 2012 provides evidence that drinking 1 cup of pomegranate juice daily for 28 days may lower high blood pressure in the short term.

A 2017 review of eight human trials found evidence that consuming pomegranate juice consistently lowered blood pressure.

People can consume pomegranates whole or as juice. When buying prepackaged pomegranate juice, check to ensure that there is no added sugar.

14. Cinnamon

Cinnamon may help reduce blood pressure, according to a 2020 review. The authors found that consuming up to 2 g of cinnamon per day for 8 weeks or more reduced blood pressure in people with a body mass index of 30 or more.

To incorporate cinnamon into the diet, a person can:

  • add it to oatmeal as an alternative to sugar
  • sprinkle it on freshly chopped fruit
  • add it to smoothies

15. Nuts

Several studies have found that eating nuts of various types can help manage hypertension.

A 2016 review notes that walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios all appear to improve endothelial function, which can benefit blood pressure and heart health.

Opt for unsalted nuts and:

  • snack on them plain
  • add them to salads
  • blend them into pestos
  • use them in main dishes, such as nut roast

People should not consume nuts if they have a nut allergy.

16. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits contain hesperidin, an antioxidant that may benefit heart health.

In a 2021 study, 159 people consumed 500 ml of orange juice, hesperidin-enriched orange juice, or a control drink per day for 12 weeks.

The results indicate that regularly consuming orange juice can help lower systolic blood pressure and that hesperidin contributes to this effect.

People can consume citrus fruits:

  • as drinks, for example, by making orange juice or squeezing lemon into water
  • whole or in fruit salads, in the case of oranges and grapefruit
  • as lemon juice, squeezed on salads for flavor instead of salt

17. Oily fish

The AHA recommends consuming 2 servings of 3 ounces (oz) of oily fish per week, as it may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Research also suggests that eating oily fish may help lower blood pressure. In 2016, people with high systolic blood pressure saw significant improvements in their readings after consuming 0.7 g per day of supplements of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid fish oil for 8 weeks.

Examples of oily fish are:

Some fish contain mercury, and people should check the latest Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. They can also visit this website to check which fish is currently sustainable.

18. Tomato extract

Tomato contains lycopene, an antioxidant that may be beneficial for heart health.

A 2021 review found that consuming tomato extract can significantly lower systolic blood pressure in people with or without hypertension. However, including tomatoes in the diet did not produce the same results.

Other researchers have found that high doses of lycopene reduced systolic blood pressure, while lower levels did not.

While some foods may relieve hypertension, others can increase the risk of the condition.

Salt

Studies show that a modest decrease in salt intake over 4 or more weeks can significantly reduce blood pressure.

The USDA recommends limiting sodium intake to a maximum of 2.3 g per day, or 1 teaspoon (5.75 g) of salt.

Caffeine

Results of a 2011 review suggest that consuming 200–300 mg of caffeine may increase blood pressure by 8.1 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 5.7 mm Hg within 1 hour of consumption. The rise in blood pressure lasted for longer than 3 hours.

In a 2019 review, however, experts note that more research is necessary to verify this.

Alcohol

Regular consumption of alcohol can significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure. In females, even moderate consumption can have this impact. There is no evidence that a low to moderate intake has any benefits for heart disease or hypertension, according to a 2021 review.

The AHA recommends limiting alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks per day for males and 1 for females. The serving size of 1 alcoholic drink is 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1–1.5 oz of hard liquor.

Processed foods

Processed foods often contain added salt and harmful fats. A 2021 study found that people with a high consumption of processed foods were more likely to have high blood pressure.

Here, learn about 50 foods to avoid if a person has high blood pressure.

As well as dietary measures, the AHA recommends the following tips for lowering blood pressure:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Learn some strategies for managing stress.
  • Avoid or quit smoking.
  • Reach or maintain a moderate body weight.
  • Work together with a doctor, including taking any medications they recommend.

Here, learn about 15 natural ways to lower blood pressure.

Here are some questions people often ask about lowering blood pressure.

How can I lower my blood pressure immediately?

There is no way to lower blood pressure quickly at home. A person should follow a plan of diet, exercise, and possibly medication to lower their blood pressure over time.

If blood pressure is over 180/120, the person should call 911.

Can drinking water lower blood pressure?

Some evidence suggests drinking more water each day may lower blood pressure, but more research is needed.

When should I contact a doctor about high blood pressure?

Optimal blood pressure is up to 120/80 mm Hg. If several readings show levels are higher than this, a person may wish to seek guidance from a doctor.

Here, read our blood pressure chart.

Dietary and lifestyle choices can help manage high blood pressure.

A diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, oats, nuts, lentils, herbs, and spices can be beneficial. In contrast, salt, alcohol, and processed foods may worsen hypertension.

A doctor can help a person make a plan that involves exercise, food choices, and other measures to manage high blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues.