Beyond bananas: Foods for lowering blood pressure

Beyond bananas: Foods for lowering blood pressure

About one in every two Americans suffers from high blood pressure. It’s truly a silent killer and one of the top risk factors for having a heart attack.

The higher your blood pressure, the more damage that is happening to your blood vessels.  When pressure builds in blood vessels, this can cause tears and damage to their inner lining of blood vessels. The damage is repaired with cholesterol.  But with continued high blood pressure, this process replays over and over and eventually leads to less elastic and narrowed blood vessels. This limits blood flow in your heart and everywhere else, including the brain, kidneys and eyes. This increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.

A healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80. If either the top or bottom number starts creeping up a little, then it’s time to make some easy changes to your lifestyle. This means regular exercise, weight loss, managing stress, limiting alcohol, and of course, eating healthy. Making better food choices is one of the best things you can do to lower blood pressure. Cut back on foods high in salt and get enough potassium, magnesium and calcium in your diet.

Bananas are famous for being a great source of potassium. However, there are many other delicious foods to enjoy and lower blood pressure.

My top 10 recommendations are either high in potassium or high in two or three of these key minerals. Try to eat several servings of these foods each day for optimal blood pressure:

  1. Potatoes
  2. Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens)
  3. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  4. Beans, peas, lentils
  5. Nuts and seeds
  6. Dried fruits
  7. Tomatoes
  8. Avocados
  9. Milk & yogurt
  10. Dark chocolate

Honorable mention: acorn squash, kiwi, oranges, salmon and other fatty fish, extra-virgin olive oil

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  1. Teresa Bartkiewicz June 1, 2021 at 9:24 pm · Reply

    Just wondering why dried fruits? Those tend to have ton of sugar. Also beans as in legumes? Are green beans in that group too?

    • Drying or dehydrating fruits concentrates the potassium because you’re getting more of the actual fruit for any given volume once the water is removed. Dried fruits mostly contain natural sugar, but some do have added sugar. Read the food label and ingredients list to double-check. Dried fruits without added sugars tend to not spike blood sugar levels as long as they are eaten in sensible amounts (2 to 4 Tablespoons at a sitting).

      Yes, the beans referred to are legumes (beans, peas and lentils). Green beans are a low to moderate source of potassium ( 1 cup = about 200 mg potassium). Although green beans aren’t high in potassium, they offer other benefits. Plus it’s good to eat a variety of healthy foods.

  2. Gloria Picchetti March 10, 2022 at 3:10 pm · Reply

    It’s so interesting as these are the same things are on the list of foods good to promote bone health!

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About the Author

Heather Klug
Heather Klug

Heather Klug, MEd RD is a registered dietitian and cardiac educator at the Karen Yontz Women's Cardiac Awareness Center inside Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.