8 Foods for Lowering Blood Pressure

Photo Credit: Jessica Goldman Foung
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and maybe even your doctor) want everyone to take a few moments to learn how to keep their tickers ticking for many years to come. It involves two simple steps: First, know your numbers — an estimated one in three Americans has hypertension, meaning their blood pressure runs above the optimal reading of 120/80.

Then, know what you can do to take control of those numbers and keep blood pressure at a healthy level for your age and needs, which includes exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, staying away from cigarettes and alcohol, and best of all, eating — healthfully, of course.

That’s why this is seriously a month to celebrate. Because, even beyond an apple a day, many foods can help keep the doctor away and put health care back into your own two hands (and your kitchen). And staying well by eating well? That’s one prescription I’m happy to follow.

For heart-healthy meals, choose ingredients that are high in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium, and low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium. But how does that translate to the grocery store and the plate? Check out what we grabbed in the produce aisle and the Healthy Potato, Spinach, & Pumpkin Seed Hash recipe we created from our pickings. This recipe is best enjoyed at breakfast, as a side for dinner, and most definitely with friends.

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Potassium, magnesium, folate, and natural nitrates.

Easy Edibles: Throw this leafy green onto sandwiches, in your salads and pastas, or transform it into a pesto.

Photo Credit: Istockphoto/Thinkstock
Unsalted Pumpkin Seeds

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Magnesium.

Easy Edibles: Keep some around for midday snack attacks, toast and season (with salt-free spices) for an easy appetizer, or use them in place of pine nuts for that spinach pesto.

Photo Credit: Hemera/Thinkstock
Potatoes (Purple)

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Potassium, magnesium, and anthocyanins (the compounds that give these violet spuds their color), which may also help lower blood pressure.

Easy Edibles: Bake your own heart-healthy french fries, make a mash or a hash, or throw a handful of tots into stews and curries.

Photo Credit: Istockphoto/Thinkstock

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Magnesium, potassium, and a high fiber-to-protein ratio, which helps regulate blood sugar and lower blood cholesterol levels.

Easy Edibles: Make a black bean salad or white bean dip for that next potluck, throw them on top of a spinach salad or into your next homemade burrito wrap, or give garbanzos a quick bake in the oven for a crunchy topping or appetizer.

Photo Credit: Polka Dot Images

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Iron, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and lots of natural umami, which will please the palate so much that it won’t miss the salt shaker.

Easy Edibles: Replace beef with these meaty vegetables. Make burgers out of large, grilled portobellos; fill tacos with spiced and sautéed creminis, trumpets, and chanterelles; and mix shiitakes with noodles or rice.

Photo Credit: Zoonar/Thinkstock
Dandelion Greens

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Magnesium, as well as a natural diuretic, meaning this leafy green kicks out extra sodium without draining you of potassium.

Easy Edibles: Make a fresh salad from the greens or use in a pesto.

Photo Credit: Istockphoto/Thinkstock

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

Easy Edibles: With a quick steam and a chop, add these mini trees to your hash for some bright green color. Or of course, eat them whole and raw with that low blood-pressure bean dip.

Photo Credit: Istockphoto/Thinkstock
White Fish

Heart-Healthy Nutrients: Omega-3 fats, which serve as a natural blood thinner.

Easy Edibles: Whether you use a skillet, the grill, or the oven, fish cooks up quickly. And for a full meal, top that hash with some cod, trout, halibut, herring, or even fresh, grilled sardines.

Photo Credit: Istockphoto/Thinkstock

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