If you have high blood pressure, it may be due to what you are — or aren’t — eating. Salt, added sugars, full-fat dairy products and processed foods are among some of the top culprits leading to high blood pressure. But what you eat may also help keep blood pressure in check.
A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer. Whole grains can also help to improve digestive health and reduce damage to blood vessels. In addition, due to their fiber and potassium content, eating whole grains could be linked to lower blood pressure.
Whole grains contain all edible parts of the grain, including bran, germ and endosperm. Whole grains haven’t been refined and contain these components in natural proportions. Whole grains are packed with healthy nutrients, including fiber, protein, B vitamins, potassium, folate and minerals (e.g., iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and selenium).
When shopping for healthy foods to reduce blood pressure, keep these grains in mind:
• Whole-grain corn
• Whole oats/oatmeal
• Brown rice
• Whole rye
• Whole-grain barley
• Wild rice
• Bulgur (cracked wheat)
Eating whole grains may help lower blood pressure enough to reduce your need for blood pressure medication. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (D.A.S.H.) eating plan recommends a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, unsalted nuts and whole grains.
According to the American Heart Association, natural sources of potassium, such as whole grains, are important in controlling blood pressure because potassium lessens the effects of sodium. As part of a healthy diet, adults should eat at least 85 grams of whole-grain foods a day (about 3 ounces, the equivalent of three slices of whole-wheat bread).
If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about dietary changes you can make to lower blood pressure and reduce your need for blood pressure medications.