We hear about high blood pressure quite frequently, but it’s likely many of us don’t know what the condition really entails. Here’s the basic lowdown: Blood pressure is the force of our blood pushing against our arteries so that it can travel to other areas of the body from our heart (the force increases and decreases throughout the day; but when it remains high, that’s when it becomes high blood pressure). When your blood pressure is high, it can cause heart disease and potentially lead to a stroke.
What’s more, one in every three Americans over the age of 20 has high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. The good news is that whether you have high blood pressure or are on the brink (what is called hypertension), a healthy diet packed with certain foods will keep your levels in check. We’ve found that most of the gold star foods for people with high blood pressure are rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium (all minerals that help with blood vessel relaxation). Scroll through to see a healthy meal plan that will keep your blood pressure in the safe zone all day long.
For Breakfast: No-Bake QuinoaCrumble Bars
Hero Ingredients: Doctors can’t quite pinpoint what it is in flaxseed that lowers blood pressure, but a study showed that people who consumed flaxseed for a six-month period saw a decrease in blood pressure. Quinoa contains potassium, magnesium, and calcium, plus dark chocolate is also beneficial (we’ll touch on that later).
Get the Dish: This filling breakfast from Half Baked Harvest can also be eaten on-the-go for mornings that don't go quite as planned.
For a Snack: Hide-Your-Kale Smoothie
Hero Ingredients: Pomegranate juice is an all-star when it comes to fighting high blood pressure (a study found that drinking more than a cup of pomegranate juice every day for a month caused a drop in blood pressure). Bananas and kale are rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Get the Dish: This veggie and fruit-packed smoothie from Minimalist Baker hides the color of kale for those who aren't big greens eaters. It's so filling, you won't be starving at noon.
For Lunch: Israeli Couscous With Pistachios, Apricots, and Cranberries
Get the Dish: This easy-to-throw-together salad from Foodie Crush is packed with grains, fruits, and nuts, and it tastes just as good warm as it does cold.
For Dinner: Parmesan Pesto Tilapia
Hero Ingredient: Tilapia is high in magnesium and potassium, plus a 2012 study proved that women who ate olive oil had lower blood pressure (especially those who naturally had higher blood pressure to start).
Get the Dish: With only five ingredients and less than 15 minutes needed for prep and cook time combined, this dish from Pinch of Yum might be an every-week kind of dinner.
For Dessert: Healthy Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bars
Hero Ingredient: The flavonols (or plant-based nutrients) that are in dark chocolate are connected to the production of nitric acid, which is known to expand blood vessels and therefore decrease blood pressure.
Get the Dish: These chocolatey oatmeal squares from Half Baked Harvest are made with coconut oil instead of butter, so we can call them healthy, right?
Be sure to read about the surprising foods that contain dangerously high amounts of salt, and tell us what you think about the best foods for high blood pressure in the comments.