Health & Wellness

The Best Diets for Lowering Blood Pressure

Bonus: Eating the right foods will also make any blood pressure medication you take more effective.
tomatoes, olives, salad

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Lauren Tanabe

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Lauren Tanabe,   

Mar 18, 2020 • 3 min read

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Nearly half of all Americans have some type of cardiovascular disease, but the lifetime risk for developing high blood pressure is around 90%, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you can get it under control with a proper diet. Here, the two most effective diets to lower your blood pressure naturally.

The DASH Diet

Short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, “the DASH diet is well validated, has been shown to decrease blood pressure, and lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke,” says Mohamed Al-Kazaz, MD, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. The diet focuses on vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats and fish, and nuts. These foods are filled with nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, all of which can help decrease your sodium intake, one of the leading factors in causing your blood pressure to tick up. The DASH diet also discourages sodium-filled foods, such as cuts of meat high in saturated fat, full-fat dairy, as well as excess sugar found in certain packaged goods and beverages.

“The standard DASH diet will reduce sodium intake to about 2300 mg a day and in more extreme cases, to 1500 mg per day,” says Dr. Al-Kazaz. Just make sure to check nutrition labels regardless of whether you fully commit to the DASH diet or not to make sure you’re not consuming hidden sources of sodium (particularly when it comes from packaged foods, condiments, soups, and deli meat). “Try to incorporate vegetables into every meal and to use fruit as snacks, instead of things like chips which are high in fat and salt,” says Dr. Al-Kazaz. 

The Mediterranean Diet

Another popular diet for lowering your blood pressure (not to mention helping your erectile dysfunction, which can be linked to high blood pressure), the Mediterranean diet is similar to the DASH diet in that it focuses on vegetables, fruits, low or nonfat dairy, whole grains, lean meats and fish, and nuts and seeds. But unlike the DASH diet, there’s more emphasis put on consuming healthy fats—things like olive oil, avocadoes, and oily-fish, like salmon. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the best eating plan for you—it’s all a matter of personal preference. If you gag at the thought of mashing up an avocado, you’ll be more successful planning your meals around the DASH diet. But if a plate of hummus and olives sounds like the perfect snack for you, then opt for a Mediterranean-style of eating instead.

Regardless of which diet you choose, Dr. Al-Kazaz stresses that most high blood pressure medications won’t work as effectively if you don’t also take steps to improve your overall health. This means in addition to watching your diet, exercising 20 to 30 minutes five days a week, reducing your alcohol intake, and being mindful of over-the-counter pain medication and certain oral contraceptives, as both tend to increase blood pressure. “Individually these changes may not have a big effect on blood pressure, but when you add them all up, you likely will start seeing a decrease,” says Dr. Al-Kazaz. 

If you’ve recently been prescribed a high blood pressure medication like hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), losartan (Cozaar), or metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor), check to see if you can get it at a discounted price through Blink Health.

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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.

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