If your blood pressure isn’t at your target numbers of 120/80, you’re not alone.
Whether you’re on medicine or not, doctors say a healthy blood pressure is one of the key steps to preventing heart disease and stroke. But a study from the American Heart Association says that 50 percent of people on medicine to control their blood pressure don’t have it under control.
And while taking your blood pressure medicine as prescribed is important, it’s not the only way to rein in your pressure. Plenty of new research points to your kitchen—with some creative swaps, substitutions, and other tricks—as the way to lowering blood pressure.
These goodies can help you pare down your blood pressure.
Toss a few spuds into you cart the next time you’re at the grocery store. Research says a diet that’s high in potassium can lower your blood pressure and risk of stroke. In a study published in 2013, scientists studied 1,600 patients with high blood pressure and found adding one medium-sized white potato a day to their diet, which packs about 600 mg of potassium, trimmed systolic blood pressure by an average 5.9 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3.8 mm Hg.
A diet rich in potassium was also reported to lessen the risk of stroke by about 20 percent.
In addition to potatoes, bananas and cantaloupe are also good sources of potassium. One medium banana has about 420 mg and one cup of fresh cantaloupe has about 430 mg.
Include one six-ounce cup of low-fat yogurt to your daily diet and trim your risk of high blood pressure by 31 percent, according to research from the American Heart Association. But there’s a catch. Don’t add yogurt to your diet; it has to replace some calories already in your diet to be effective and lead to a lower risk of high blood pressure. Consistency also counts. The study says those who ate yogurt daily saw the biggest reduction in the risk of high blood pressure. Also, stay away from the kinds that have a lot of added sugar.
3. Beetroot juice
According to research from the American Heart Association, one cup of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure. Patients diagnosed with high blood pressure trimmed about 10 mm Hg off their blood pressure, and the reduction lasted about 24 hours.
Beetroot juice contains dietary nitrate, which may help relax blood vessel walls and improve blood flow. And the researchers say increasing intake of foods rich in dietary nitrate may be an affordable and attainable way to manage blood pressure.
Not crazy about beetroot juice? A large bowl of green, leafy lettuce has roughly the same amount of dietary nitrate as a cup of beetroot juice.
4. Hot cocoa
Swap out your regular cup of joe for a mug of hot cocoa in the morning. According to a German study, the flavanols, natural plant compounds in cocoa, help your blood vessels function better and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. After eight weeks, people with high blood pressure who drank at least one cup of cocoa a day reduced their blood pressure by an average of two to three mm Hg. And while the reduction isn’t huge, adding cocoa to an overall diet that supports healthy blood pressure can contribute to a lower risk for heart disease.
They’re not just for growing beanstalks. One cup a day of cooked beans and other legumes including chickpeas and lentils can reduce risk of heart disease and improve control of blood pressure, according to a study published by Archives of Internal Medicine. Whether they were steamed, in soup, etc., one cup of legumes trimmed 4.5 points off study participants' systolic blood pressure number and cut the chance of heart disease by about one percent.