The World's Healthiest Foods

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Hypertension is a consistent elevation in blood pressure. "Blood pressure" signifies the resistance produced each time the heart beats and sends blood coursing through the arteries. Between beats, the heart relaxes, and blood pressure drops. The lowest pressure is referred to as the diastolic pressure. The peak pressure exerted by this contraction is the systolic pressure. A normal blood pressure reading for an adult is: 120 (systolic) / 80 (diastolic).

Hypertension is a major risk factor for a heart attack and is generally regarded as the greatest risk factor for a stroke. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is aptly called "a silent killer," because people are often unaware of having hypertension until a stroke or heart event brings the message home.

The physiological changes related to hypertension can frequently be related to lifestyle patterns that are easily modifiable. For example, being overweight may contribute to hypertension, because it increases the work required by the heart. Making healthy eating choices can be an important, easy and enjoyable step towards maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

Eat more

  • Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and halibut for their beneficial omega 3 fatty acid
  • Onions and garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Celery
  • Organically grown fruits and vegetables, especially beets, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes

Avoid saturated fat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, excess sodium


What is Hypertension

Elevated blood pressure is a major risk factor for a heart attack and is generally regarded as the greatest risk factor for a stroke. ¡°Blood pressure¡± signifies the resistance produced each time the heart beats and sends blood coursing through the arteries.

The peak pressure exerted by this contraction is the systolic pressure. Between beats, the heart relaxes, and blood pressure drops. The lowest pressure is referred to as the diastolic pressure. A normal blood pressure reading for an adult is: 120 (systolic) / 80 (diastolic).

High blood pressure is divided into different levels:

Physicians are primarily concerned with diastolic pressure (the second number in the blood pressure reading), but systolic pressure is also important. Individuals with a normal diastolic pressure (under 82 mm Hg) but elevated systolic pressure (over 158 mm Hg) have double the risk of death due to heart attack or stroke compared to individuals with normal systolic pressures (under 130 mm Hg).

Blood pressure typically goes up as a result of stress or physical activity, but in a person with high blood pressure, is elevated even at rest.

Over sixty million Americans have high blood pressure, including more than half of all Americans aged 65-74 years, and almost three-fourths of all African-Americans in the same age group.

Most patients with high blood pressure are in the borderline-to-moderate range, a group in which almost all cases of high blood pressure can be brought under control through changes in diet and lifestyle. In fact, in cases of borderline-to-mild hypertension, healthful changes in diet and lifestyle (discussed below) have proven superior to drugs in head-to-head comparisons.

In addition, in some people, the drugs typically prescribed to lower blood pressure produce the very thing they are trying to prevent: a heart attack. Several well-designed long-term clinical studies have found that people who take blood-pressure-lowering drugs (typically diuretics and/or beta-blockers) actually suffer from unnecessary side effects (e.g., fatigue, headaches, and impotence), including an increased risk of heart disease.

Frequent Signs and Symptoms

A hypertensive crisis may be indicated by:

Related Tests

Dietary Causes

Sodium and potassium

Excessive consumption of dietary sodium (from table salt), coupled with diminished dietary potassium, is a common cause of high blood pressure, especially in ¡°salt-sensitive¡± individuals. Numerous studies have shown that sodium restriction alone does not improve blood pressure control in most people, but must also be accompanied by a high potassium intake.

In our society, only 5 percent of sodium intake comes from the natural ingredients in food. Prepared foods contribute 45 percent of our sodium intake, 45 percent is added in cooking, and another 5 percent is added as a condiment. All the body requires in most instances is the salt that is naturally present in food.

Most Americans have a sodium-to-potassium ratio greater than 2:1, meaning that most people ingest twice as much sodium as they do potassium. Researchers recommend a dietary sodium-to-potassium ratio of less than 1:5 to maintain health. This is 10 times the average intake of potassium, yet even this may not be optimal. A natural diet rich in fruits and vegetables can produce a sodium-to-potassium ratio of under 1:100, as most fruits and vegetables have a sodium-to-potassium ratio of less than 1:50.

Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C

Epidemiological and clinical studies have found numerous links between inadequate amounts of these three nutrients and high blood pressure.

Saturated fats

A high intake of saturated fats has been conclusively linked to high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. These "hard" fats become incorporated within the walls of blood vessels, which then lose their elasticity.

Essential fats

Population and autopsy studies have demonstrated that people who consume a diet rich in omega-3 essential fats from either fish or vegetable sources have the lowest degree of cardiovascular disease and, conversely, those who consume the least omega-3 essential fats have the highest degree of cardiovascular disease.

Dietary fiber

Fiber in the diet is an absolute key in helping control blood levels of lipids and sugar, and a low dietary intake of fiber is associated with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Caffeine and nicotine

Caffeine (and nicotine--another reason not to smoke) is a stimulant that promotes the body's stress response, releasing hormones that rapidly elevate blood pressure.


In susceptible individuals, even moderate alcohol consumption causes a steep rise in blood sugar and increases the production of free radicals, both of which damage arteries and can contribute to chronically elevated blood pressure.

Excess Sugar

While too much intake of dietary sugar-particularly in the form of added table sugar (sucrose)-has not clearly been shown to be a direct cause of high blood pressure, some clear stepping stones between excessive sugar intake and problems with blood pressure regulation have been identified in scientific studies. The two most important stepping stones in this regard are (1) insulin resistance and (2) unwanted oxidative stress and inflammatory activity.

In studies on rats and mice, excessive intake of sucrose, and in some studies fructose, has been linked to increased levels of insulin in the blood, glucose intolerance, formation of too many reactive substances in the bloodstream (including reactive oxygen species and reactive aldehydes), and unwanted inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels. This combination of events may be accompanied by problems in the autonomic nervous system and imbalances that can lead to excessive constriction of the blood vessels and hypertension. The pattern of events here is complicated, but it leaves no doubt that problems involving insulin resistance and problems involving hypertension are connected problems.

It's important to note here that sucrose and fructose are two of the many sugars found in whole, natural foods, and they are seldom present in isolated form or in overwhelmingly high amounts. (Fruit might be considered an exception to this rule, since the sweet taste of most fruits comes predominantly from fructose.) It usually takes a processed food like white, refined, granulated table sugar to expose us to levels of sucrose as excessive as the levels used in animal studies. With respect to fructose, we're also unlikely to reach levels of excess comparable to the research study levels unless we are consuming large amounts of processed fruit juice or dried fruit. Whole, natural fruits consumed in moderate amounts are very unlikely to bring us close to sugar excess, even with fructose as their primary sugar. We expect future research to uncover more and more details about the relationship between insulin resistance, chronic low-level inflammation, and intake of highly processed foods-including concentrated, sugar-based sweeteners and the pre-packaged foods that contain them.

Nutrient Needs

Essential fats

Over sixty double-blind studies have demonstrated that either fish oil supplements or flaxseed oil, the two best sources of omega-3 essential fats, are very effective in lowering blood pressure. Fish oils have typically produced a more pronounced effect than flaxseed oil because the dosage of fish oils used was quite high (equal to ten capsules daily).

Flaxseed oil may be the better choice for lowering blood pressure, especially when cost-effectiveness is considered. Along with reducing the intake of saturated fat, 1 tablespoon per day of flaxseed oil should lower both the systolic and diastolic readings by up to 9 points.


Several studies show that potassium supplementation alone can produce significant reductions in blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. Typically, these studies have utilized dosages ranging from 2.5 to 5.0 grams of potassium per day. Significant drops in both systolic and diastolic values have been achieved.

In one study, potassium supplementation lowered systolic blood pressure an average of 12 points and diastolic blood pressure an average of 16 points. Potassium supplementation may be especially useful in the treatment of high blood pressure in persons over the age of sixty-five, who often do not fully respond to blood-pressure-lowering drugs.

In one double-blind study of eighteen patients whose average age was 75, with a systolic blood pressure of greater than 160 mm Hg and/or a diastolic blood pressure of greater than 95 mm Hg, those who received potassium chloride (supplying 2.5 grams of potassium) each day for four weeks experienced a drop of 9 points in systolic and 7 points in diastolic pressure-comparable results to drug therapy without its negative side effects.

Using foods or food-based potassium supplements to meet the human body¡¯s high potassium requirements rather than pills is suggested, since potassium salts can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and ulcers when given in pill form at high dosages. These effects are not seen when potassium levels are increased through diet only.

Caution: Check with your physician before taking potassium. Individuals with kidney disease do not handle potassium in the normal way and are likely to experience heart disturbances and other consequences of potassium toxicity.

Potassium supplementation is contraindicated when using a number of prescription medications, including digitalis, potassium-sparing diuretics, and the angiotensin-converting-enzyme-inhibitor class of blood-pressure-lowering drugs. People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should not take magnesium or potassium unless under the direct advice of a physician.


Magnesium is second only to potassium in its concentration within cells and interacts with potassium in many body systems. Studies suggest that low levels of potassium within cells may be the result of low magnesium intake.

Population studies provide considerable evidence that a high intake of magnesium is associated with lower blood pressure. Numerous studies have demonstrated an inverse correlation between water hardness (water high in magnesium) and high blood pressure. Where magnesium content of the water was high, there were fewer cases of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Similarly, studies have found that when dietary intakes of magnesium were high, blood pressure was lower. Magnesium supplementation is particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure if:

Absorption studies indicate that magnesium is easily absorbed orally, especially in the citrate form. In addition, while inorganic magnesium salts (like magnesium oxide) often cause diarrhea at higher dosages, organic forms of magnesium (magnesium citrate or aspartate) generally do not.

Vitamin C and flavonoids

Studies have shown that the higher the intake of vitamin C the lower the blood pressure. One of the ways vitamin C helps keep blood pressure in the normal range is by promoting the excretion of lead.

Chronic exposure to lead from environmental sources, including drinking water, is associated with high blood pressure and increased cardiovascular mortality. Areas with a soft water supply have higher lead concentrations in drinking water due to the acidity of the water. Soft water is also low in calcium and magnesium¡ªtwo minerals that protect against high blood pressure.

Flavonoids (which co-occur naturally with vitamin C in many colorful fruits and vegetables) support the antioxidant actions of vitamin C and help strengthen and protect the inner lining of blood vessels.

Vitamin E

Of all the antioxidants, the fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E may offer the most protection against hardening of the arteries because it is easily incorporated into the LDL-cholesterol molecule where it prevents free radical damage. Vitamin E not only reduces LDL peroxidation, but it also improves plasma LDL breakdown, inhibits excessive platelet aggregation, increases HDL-cholesterol levels, and increases the breakdown of fibrin, a clot-forming protein.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an essential component of the mitochondria¡ªthe factories where energy is produced in our cells. Although CoQ10 can be synthesized within the body, deficiency has been found in 39% of patients with high blood pressure.

In several studies, CoQ10 has been shown to lower blood pressure approximately 10% in patients with hypertension; however, not until after four to twelve weeks of therapy. CoQ10 seems to lower blood pressure by lowering cholesterol levels and stabilizing the vascular system via its antioxidant properties. These actions reduce resistance to blood flow through the arteries.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) Niacin is extremely important for controlling blood lipid levels and for proper metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Timed-release niacin may be employed to avoid flushing. Liver toxicity may occur with high doses of niacin.

Folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, and choline

These B-complex-related vitamins make significant contributions to the normal function of the innermost layer of the blood vessels, which is necessary for maintaining normal blood pressure. They are also necessary for our bodies to be able to metabolize homocysteine into other, useful compounds. An intermediate product of normal cellular metabolism, homocysteine accumulates-if not converted into methionine or cysteine via the action of folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6-and can damage the blood vessels, keeping them in a constant state of injury.

In addition to its role in clearing homocysteine, folic acid (also called folate) is an essential performer in the intricate biochemical dance through which our blood vessels are instructed to be more elastic, to dilate and relax.

Folate plays a role in blood vessel tone because it affects the production of one of the most important agents controlling blood vessel elasticity-nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, which is produced in the vascular endothelium (the lining of the blood vessels), is made from the essential amino acid (protein building block), arginine.

In the endothelium, arginine is converted into citrulline through the action of an enzyme called endothelial nitric oxide synthase or eNOS for short. This process is brought about through the action of a coenzyme called tetrahydrobiopterin. And tetrahydrabiopterin is made in the body through a pathway that requires folate in the form in which it is active in the body, which is called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate or 5MTHFR.

Without adequate folate, 5MTHFR cannot be produced. Without 5MTHFR, tetrahydrabiopterin cannot be produced. And without tetrahydrabiopterin, the process through which cirtuline is converted into NO cannot occur. Without NO, our blood vessels fail to dilate properly.

This is one of the primary reasons why diets rich in folic acid, such as the Mediterranean and DASH diets, are able to lower high blood pressure as effectively as first generation hypertensive drugs.

Folic acid is so important for cardiovascular function that a major study concluded that 400 micrograms per day of folic acid could prevent 28,000 cardiovascular deaths per year in the United States. The average daily intake of folic acid is 280 to 300 micrograms, about half of which is absorbed.(Forman JP, Rimm EB, et al. JAMA)

Other research published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, underscores how important a diet centered around folate-rich leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and legumes is for healthy blood pressure.(Boushey CJ, Beresford SA, et al.)

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham Young Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, worked together to conduct two very large prospective studies, one of 93,803 younger women (27 to 44 years) and a second including 62,260 older women (43 to 70 years). Both groups were drawn from women in the Nurses Health Study. All study participants were free of hypertension when the research began, and both groups of women were followed for 8 years.

The results: Women consuming high amounts of folate (dietary folate plus folic acid-containing supplements) had a significantly decreased risk of hypertension.

Younger women getting at least 800 micrograms of folate daily had a 45% lower risk of developing high blood pressure compared to women consuming less than 200 micrograms per day.

Older women who consumed at least 800 micrograms of folate daily had a 39% lower risk of developing hypertension.

Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests folate's effects are so powerful it can even be used in very high doses to acutely lower blood pressure in men and women with coronary artery disease. (Luscher TF, Richard V, et al.)

Though small, this was a very good study¡ªa double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial that involved 13 men and one woman with significant coronary artery disease (>50% stenosis in at least one coronary artery).

Giving these subjects high dose folic acid (30 mg in two divided doses, 10-12 hours and 1 hour before testing) effectively lowered their blood pressure (5-mm Hg) and significantly increased blood flow to the heart by 49%, and dilator reserve (the difference between peak blood flow to the heart and resting blood flow to the heart) by 83%!

Folate is abundant in a wide variety of vegetables. Excellent sources include leafy greens (romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), and lentils. Very good sources include most beans (black, garbanzo, pinto, navy, green beans), Brussels sprouts, celery, red bell peppers summer squash, cabbage and fennel.

Substances and conditions that can negatively affect folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 status include methotrexate, phenytoin, theophylline, dopamine, Isoniazid, tartrazine (yellow dye #5), insufficient stomach acid, intestinal flora imbalances, diarrhea, and smoking.


L-arginine is a common amino acid from food, but its importance increases in those with hypertension. In the body (specifically within those hard-working blood vessels) it is converted into nitric oxide, a chemical that helps keep the inner walls of blood vessels smooth and normally allows blood vessels to relax (among many other extremely important functions).

Individuals with hypertension have a harder time maintaining normal nitric oxide levels, which may also relate to other significant health issues such as diabetes and heart problems. The kidneys are particularly sensitive to the levels of l-arginine, nitric oxide, and related chemicals. Stressful experiences and aging may also result in lower l-arginine levels.

Dietary intake levels of l-arginine vary considerably, but they range from 1 to over 4 grams per day. The consumption of nuts, which contain relatively high levels of arginine, has a very strong negative correlation to the risk of coronary events.

Soy flour, wheat bran, hazelnuts, and walnuts all contain high levels of both arginine and folic acid. Fish contains high levels of arginine and essential fats. A major source of dietary arginine in the Western diet is meat; however, meat also contains high levels of saturated fats as well as methionine, the precursor to homocysteine.

Soy flour, wheat bran, and most nuts contain relatively low levels of methionine. It is advisable to limit arginine intake in those with active or latent herpes simplex or herpes zoster infections.

Beat High Blood Pressure with Nitrate-rich Beet Juice

Drinking just 2 glasses (16.9 ounces) of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure, shows a study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, which could have major implications for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. (Web AJ, Patel N, et al.)

Previously, the protective effects of vegetable-rich diets have been thought to be due to their content of antioxidant vitamins, but this study reveals that it is the dietary nitrate in beetroot juice - and in all green, leafy vegetables - whose consumption results in a decrease in blood pressure.

The nitrate in beet juice is converted by bacteria on the tongue into nitrite and swallowed in saliva, which, in the acidic environment of the stomach, is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as nitrite. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure because it signals the endothelium (the lining of our blood vessels) to relax.

In healthy volunteers, blood pressure began to lessen within just 1 hour of drinking beet juice, with the peak drop of -10.48 mm/Hg occurring about 3 hours after ingestion. And beneficial blood pressure lowering effects continued to some degree for up to 24 hours!

Practical Tip: More than 25% of the world's adult population is currently hypertensive, a figure that is expected to increase to 29% by 2025. Since hypertension causes around 50% of coronary heart disease, and approximately 75% of strokes, toasting your health with a mid-morning and an early afternoon or evening glass of beet-rich vegetable juice or a cup of borscht is a daily habit that just might save your life or that of a loved one. For a quick, easy and delicious recipe for Raw Borscht, see p. 248 of The World's Healthiest Foods Essential Guide.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It's likely the abundance of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil, rather than its monounsaturated fatty acids, are responsible for its well known cardiovascular benefits.

Research conducted by Dr. Juan Reno and colleagues at the Reina Sofia University Hospital, Cordoba, Spain, and published in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, investigated the effects of virgin olive oil on endothelial function in 21 volunteers with high cholesterol levels.

The endothelium, although just a one-cell thick layer of flat cells that lines the inner wall of all blood vessels, may be the critical player in cardiovascular health. Among its many functions, the endothelium orchestrates the mechanics of blood flow, and regulates blood clot formation and the adhesion of immune cells to the blood vessel wall (one of the first steps in the formation of plaque).

Normally, after a meal, endothelial function is impaired for several hours. Blood vessels become less elastic promoting a rise in blood pressure, and blood levels of free radicals potentially harmful to cholesterol (lipoperoxides and 8-epi prostaglandin-F2) increase.

But when the subjects in this study ate a breakfast containing virgin olive oil with its normal high phenolic content (400 ppm), their endothelial function actually improved, blood levels of nitric oxide (a blood vessel-relaxing compound produced by the endothelium) increased significantly, and far fewer free radicals were present than would normally be seen after a meal.

When they ate the same breakfast containing the same type of virgin olive oil with its phenolic content reduced to 80 ppm, the beneficial effects were virtually absent, and concentrations of cholesterol-damaging free radicals increased.

The results of this study underscore the importance of knowing how to select, store and serve your olive oil to maximize its polyphenol content. For all the information you need, see our How to Select and Store section in Olive oil.

Kukoamines-Phytonutrient Compounds in Potatoes

UK scientists at the Institute for Food Research have identified blood pressure-lowering compounds called kukoamines in potatoes. Previously only found in Lycium chinense, an exotic herbal plant whose bark is used to make an infusion in Chinese herbal medicine, kukoamines were found in potatoes using a new type of research called metabolomics.

Until now, when analyzing a plant's composition, scientists had to know what they were seeking and could typically look for 30 or so known compounds. Now, metabolomic techniques enable researchers to find the unexpected by analyzing the 100s or even 1000s of small molecules produced by an organism.

"Potatoes have been cultivated for thousands of years, and we thought traditional crops were pretty well understood," said IFR food scientist Dr. Fred Mellon, "but this surprise finding shows that even the most familiar of foods might conceal a hoard of health-promoting chemicals.¡± Another good reason to center your diet around the World's Healthiest Foods!

In addition to potatoes, researchers looked at tomatoes since they belong to the same plant family,Solanaceae, as Lycium chinense. Metabolomic assays also detected kukoamine compounds in tomatoes.

The IFR scientists found higher levels of kukoamines and related compounds than some of the other compounds in potatoes that have a long history of scientific investigation. However, because they were previously only noted in Lycium chinense, kukoamines have been little studied. Researchers are now determinining their stability during cooking and dose response (how much of these compounds are needed to impact health).

Nutrient Excesses

Excessive intakes of particular nutrients are clearly related to the development of hypertension; generally, the greater the quantity in which these nutrients appear in foods, the more these foods are processed. The most significant excesses include:

Another increasingly important possibility is the ingestion of heavy metals and other toxins that affect the function of the blood vessels. Significant among these are lead, mercury, and cadmium.

Lead can occur in high levels in tap water, in old, peeling paint, and after sanding wood floors. Mercury can occur in high levels in some types of fish and is also present in amalgam tooth fillings.

Cadmium can occur in high levels in air near highways and is also present in some batteries. These heavy metals are difficult for the body to excrete, and can remain in the body and affect function for years.

Recommended Diet

Relationships Found between Food Groups and High Blood Pressure

In research published in the December 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Lyn Steffen and colleagues from the University of Minnesota, looked at possible associations between the risk of developing high blood pressure in young black and white men and women and a diet high in plant foods (fruit, vegetables, whole and refined grains, nuts and legumes), dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, and dairy desserts), and/or meat and other animal products (red and processed meat, poultry, fish and eggs).

Earlier studies have shown that diet can significantly affect blood pressure. Specifically, diets rich in fruit and vegetables and/or low-fat dairy products, or low in saturated fats have been associated with a lowered risk of high blood pressure, while diets in which consumption of beef, veal, lamb and poultry is high have been associated with a greater risk of high blood pressure. This latest study looked at the diets of young adults, and their risk of developing high blood pressure.

The study included 4,304 people (883 black men, 1,249 black women, 989 white men and 1,183 white women) aged 18-30 years when the study began. Participants' diets and blood pressure were evaluated at baseline and after 7 and 15 years. High blood pressure was defined as a systolic BP ¡Ý 130 mm/Hg and a diastolic BP ¡Ý 85 mm/Hg. After 15 years, 23.2% of participants had higher than normal blood pressure: 13.7% had hypertension and 9.4% had blood pressure that while still considered "normal," was at the high end of the normal range. Of those who developed high blood pressure, 64% were black men and women.

Analysis of the study participants' diets revealed that a diet high in plant foods¡ªvegetables, whole grains, fruit and nuts¡ªwas associated with a 36% lower risk of high blood pressure. Milk, dairy products and eggs were also inversely related to high blood pressure.

Frequent consumption of red and processed meats, however, increased risk of high blood pressure in both the black and white men and women. Those eating red or processed meat once or twice a day had a 20-40% higher risk of developing high blood pressure compared to those eating red or processed meat an average of once every other day.

Eating fish or poultry was not found to be related to high blood pressure, but eating eggs 1-3 times per week was associated with an 11-21% drop in hypertension risk.

While researchers are not yet clear why eggs and plant and dairy foods are protective, they think the rich variety of nutrients in these foods, such as phytonutrients, fiber, magnesium, potassium and calcium, are the likely reason.

The increase in hypertension risk seen with red and processed meats may be due to their high levels of saturated fat, sodium and nitrates, or it may be that red and processed meat is not harmful in itself, but is displacing other healthier foods from the diet. If you or someone you love is at risk for or has high blood pressure, play it safe. Limit red and processed meats to just a couple of servings a week. Rely on eggs, low-fat dairy products, fish and poultry as your primary sources of animal protein, and enjoy a Mediterranean-style diet, which is naturally high in plant foods. If you enjoy low-fat dairy foods and do not experience adverse reactions to them, you can have increased confidence in their ability to help lower your blood pressure based on a recent large-scale study. In this study of several thousand older adults with hypertension, the incorporation of low-fat dairy foods into an already-healthy Mediterranean diet did a better job lowering blood pressure than the Mediterranean diet alone.

General Guidelines: