Eating dark chocolate is a palatable way to combat hypertension. German researchers have found that ingesting a daily amount of dark chocolate the size of a Hershey’s kiss lowered SBP three points over 18 weeks in hypertensive patients.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and reduce the development of plaque in arteries. Patients should generally not take more than 3 grams of fish oil a day, as a higher amount may increase the risk of bleeding.
Extra virgin olive oil
Consuming extra virgin olive oil may be a key dietary change to improve blood pressure. For hypertensive men on medication, consuming 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil was associated with substantial reductions in blood pressure during a six-month period. Women with hypertension who consumed 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil had similar benefits. All types of oil are not beneficial, however. Participants in this same study who were switched to sunflower oil only had minimal reductions in blood pressure.5
Magnesium can provide many cardiovascular benefits, including lowering SBP and DBP and reducing arterial calcification. A recent meta-analysis of 22 magnesium supplement trials showed that most patients benefited from 370 mg to 970 mg of magnesium daily to lower blood pressure.
High potassium diet
The AHA recommends a diet high in potassium for patients with hypertension. A diet that included 4,700 mg per day of potassium can lower blood pressure by reducing the effects of sodium. Examples of foods high in potassium include potatoes, greens, spinach, mushrooms, bananas, and oranges. However, patients with kidney disease should not supplement their diet with potassium.
Vitamin C has recently shown promise in lowering blood pressure. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that taking 500 mg of vitamin C daily may reduce blood pressure by 5 mm Hg in patients with hypertension. Foods such as papayas, peppers, oranges, cantaloupe, bananas, strawberries, and broccoli are high in vitamin C.6