10 blood pressure-lowering foods

Daniel Coughlin / 01 November 2016 ( 20 May 2020 )

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, or your reading falls within the medium risk range, find out what you can do to get it down.



If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure (140/90mmHg or higher), or your reading falls into the pre-hypertensive range (120/80mmHg – 139/90mm/Hg), there are lots of tweaks you can make to your diet to help bring those numbers down.

Reducing your salt (sodium) intake, taking regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are key. And if you drink alcohol or smoke, now is the time to cut back or quit. Meanwhile, a balanced Mediterranean-style or similar DASH – short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension* – diet has proven benefits for blood pressure.[1][2] “There are also certain foods that may help,” says nutrition expert Professor Joan Salge Blake, Clinical Associate Professor at the US’s Boston University.

Clinical researchers have found that some foods can lower blood pressure more effectively than others when eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet. We've rounded-up ten of the best to incorporate in your meals whenever you can.

10 signs you're eating too much salt

Clinical researchers have found that some foods can lower blood pressure more effectively than others when eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet. We've rounded-up ten of the best to incorporate in your meals whenever you can.

1. Sweet potato

Studies show that three essential minerals – potassium, calcium and magnesium – help relax blood vessel walls and reduce the harmful effects of sodium which in turn can help lower blood pressure. Ideally, you want to fill your diet with foods that contain these crucial micro nutrients, such as sweet potato, which is one of the best sources of dietary potassium. Sweet potato is also a source of fibre which is also linked with lower BP.

How to cook sweet potatoes

2. Avocado

Avocados are also packed with potassium, not to mention heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, so they're well worth adding to your shopping list. Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream, which along with high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease.

Sweet potato cakes with avocado and lime

3. Banana

If sweet potatoes and avocados don't take your fancy, unzip a banana instead. “Bananas are a rich source of potassium which is vital for regulating blood pressure,” says leading dietitian Sarah Schenker. [3]Just one banana provides 400mg of potassium - 11% of your recommended daily amount. They are also a source of BP-friendly fibre.

How to make a banana breakfast smoothie

4. Yogurt

Loaded with calcium and magnesium, yogurt is proven to help regulate blood pressure. A major US study reported in the American Journal of Hypertension in 2018 found that men and women with high blood pressure who consumed two or more servings a week of yogurt as part of a healthy diet, were at lower risk for developing heart disease. [4] In another US study, meanwhile, a combination of higher yogurt intake and higher DASH diet scores was linked with a 30% lower risk of high BP in middle aged and older men and women.[5]


5. Pumpkin seeds

Not just for Halloween, next time you're preparing pumpkin, make sure you reserve the seeds. These moreish morsels are a great source of the mineral magnesium, which is linked with lower BP. [6] The government recommends men get 300 micrograms and women 270 micrograms a day of magnesium. [7] Ramp up your intake by sprinkling pumpkin seeds liberally over salads, cereals and desserts or adding to smoothies and other dishes.

The seeds of goodness

6. Rocket

This trendy leafy green is a great dietary source of nitrate, a chemical that dilates blood vessels, which in turn helps to lower blood pressure and has other benefits for the heart.,[8][9] Rocket is also a source of potassium, calcium and magnesium to boot, making it a fantastic all-round hypertension helper.

Wild rocket salad with salmon

7. Beetroot

Beetroot is another excellent source of dietary nitrate. Study after study has demonstrated that the purple-hued root veggie can lower blood pressure as part of a healthy, balanced diet. A 2018 systematic review of 11 studies published in the journal Biomolecules concluded that beetroot juice supplementation help control BP in both healthy people and those with high BP or pre-hypertension as part of a healthy lifestyle.[10]

Beetroot soup

Saga Health Insurance offers a range of health plans which provide cover if you develop high blood pressure (hypertension). If you've already been diagnosed they can often still cover your hypertension anyway, subject to some simple health questions and an additional premium. Find out more.


8. Flaxseeds

A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials (pretty much top of the tree when it comes to research) published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found flaxseeds significantly reduced blood pressure. [11] The reason? While the jury is still out, researchers think an omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in flax seeds acts in a similar way to the blood pressure lowering medications called ACE inhibitors. [12]

How seeds help boost your health

9. Berries

Many berries are rich in anthocyanins, a large group of pigmented plant chemicals that give certain flowers, fruits, and vegetables their red, blue, and purple colours, have been linked with lower blood pressure in several studies. Anthocyanins are thought to act as antioxidants as well as helping to relax and widen blood vessels so reducing the pressure of blood flowing through them. Top sources? Blackcurrants, blueberries, and raspberries, which contain over 100 mg of anthocyanins per 100 g, followed by blackberries and cherries, with over 50 mg per 100 g. [13]

The 10 healthiest berries

10. Salmon

Diets high in oily fish like salmon and mackerel have been linked with lower blood pressure readings, something usually attributed to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids. [14] However there may be another BP-lowering ingredient in oily fish, taurine, an amino acid which has been found to help relax blood vessels in people with high BP and pre-hypertension.[15] Research published in the American Journal of Hypertension meanwhile found that a diet containing baked and raw salmon fillet delayed development of high BP in rats prone to hypertension. [16]

*The DASH diet is low in salt, high in fibre and rich in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy as well as containing whole grains, lean meat, fish and poultry, nuts, seeds and pulses.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482514/
[2]https://dashdiet.org/what-is-the-dash-diet.html
[3]http://www.sarahschenker.co.uk/?page_id=200
[4]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29462263/
[5]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29952852/
[6]https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07664
[7]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/618167/government_dietary_recommendations.pdf
[8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575935/
[9]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26896747/
[10]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316347/
[11]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26071633/
[12]https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0039-1678691
[13]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6628116/
[14]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6073188/
[15]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26781281/
[16]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29472029/


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.