High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other problems. While medication is often necessary to control high blood pressure, lifestyle changes like diet can also make a big difference. In particular, adding certain fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients to your diet in smoothie form may help reduce and regulate blood pressure levels naturally. Smoothies provide a simple, delicious way to increase your intake of blood pressure-friendly nutrients and take control of your health.
What causes high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force placed on artery walls as blood flows through the body. It is recorded as two numbers—systolic pressure (the pressure as the heart beats) over diastolic pressure (the pressure as the heart relaxes between beats). Normal blood pressure levels are less than 120/80 mmHg, while high blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mmHg or above.
There are two main types of high blood pressure:
– Primary hypertension – Occurs when there is no identifiable cause. This is the most common type, affecting 95% of people with high blood pressure. It tends to develop gradually over many years and is influenced by genetics, age, weight, lack of exercise, and other risk factors.
– Secondary hypertension – Result of an underlying health condition, like kidney disease, adrenal gland tumors, congenital heart defects, or the use of medications like birth control pills. Treating the underlying condition may help lower blood pressure.
Some key risk factors for high blood pressure include:
– Age – The risk increases as you get older.
– Weight – Being overweight or obese can raise blood pressure.
– Family history – You may inherit a predisposition to hypertension.
– Ethnic background – High blood pressure is particularly common among African Americans.
– Diet – Eating diets high in salt, fat, and calories can increase blood pressure.
– Alcohol and tobacco – Heavy drinking and smoking raise your risk.
– Stress – High levels of stress may lead to hypertension.
– Lack of exercise – Being physically inactive contributes to high blood pressure.
How can smoothies help lower blood pressure?
Smoothies provide a simple way to incorporate fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and other ingredients into your diet that have been shown to reduce and regulate blood pressure levels. Here are some of the ways smoothies can benefit blood pressure:
Increasing intake of potassium
Potassium helps balance sodium levels and causes blood vessel walls to relax, lowering blood pressure. Many fruits and veggies used in smoothies are excellent sources of potassium like bananas, spinach, tomatoes, oranges, avocados, yogurt, and melons.
Magnesium deficiency is linked with elevated blood pressure. Smoothies allow you to add in ingredients with high magnesium content like spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, and bananas.
Including nitrate-rich foods
Dietary nitrates from vegetables like beetroot, spinach, and carrots are converted into nitric oxide in the body, which widens blood vessels and reduces pressure. Blending nitrate-rich veggies into smoothies enhances this benefit.
Oxidative stress contributes to high blood pressure. Smoothies make it easy to load up on antioxidant-rich fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and pomegranate as well as vegetables like kale, spinach, and beets.
Adding in omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fats have blood pressure lowering effects. Smoothies allow you to blend in foods with omega-3s like flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, edamame, and fatty fish like salmon.
Including protein-rich ingredients
Higher protein diets may improve blood pressure. Smoothies provide an opportunity to incorporate protein sources like Greek yogurt, milk, peanut butter, almond butter, whey protein powder, and soy.
Reducing sodium intake
A low sodium diet is important for controlling blood pressure. Smoothies made at home allow you to avoid added salt and reduce overall sodium content.
Best fruits for smoothies to lower blood pressure
Bananas are a great smoothie base and one of the best sources of potassium, providing about 400 mg per medium banana. They help regulate fluid balance and contain magnesium, manganese, fiber, and vitamin C as well.
Oranges provide vitamin C, potassium, folate, and antioxidants like hesperidin. Enjoy them peeled, whole, or juiced in smoothies.
Strawberries contain potassium, magnesium, and polyphenols like anthocyanins that relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Blend fresh or frozen strawberries into smoothies.
The anthocyanins in blueberries act as antioxidants and may reduce hypertension by improving nitric oxide levels and artery function. Use fresh or frozen.
Melons like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are hydrating and packed with potassium and the amino acid L-citrulline that may lower blood pressure.
Tart cherries contain melatonin and anthocyanins shown to decrease high blood pressure and risk of heart disease in studies. Enjoy them fresh or as frozen, pitted cherries.
Pomegranates are rich in tannins and anthocyanins that help protect nitric oxide function and reduce blood pressure. Blend in seeds or juice.
Apples provide quercetin, which acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that may reduce hypertension. Use sliced apples in smoothies.
Best vegetables for smoothies to lower blood pressure
Spinach offers magnesium, potassium, nitrates, carotenoids and folic acid. These nutrients promote circulation, reduce inflammation and optimize blood flood.
Carrots contain carotenoids, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. They support heart health by improving blood flow and reducing oxidative damage.
Tomatoes provide lycopene, an antioxidant that helps reduce blood pressure. Blend in fresh or roasted tomatoes.
Beets are high in nitrates that convert to nitric oxide and relax blood vessels. They also contain antioxidants like betalains.
Kale gives you vitamins A, C and K along with magnesium and potassium to help manage blood pressure.
Broccoli florets add vitamin C, calcium, fiber and sulforaphane, which provides cardioprotective and antioxidant effects.
Celery contains phytochemicals called phthalides that relax artery walls and increase circulation. Add stalks to smoothies.
Asparagus provides folate which helps reduce hypertension. It also contains anti-inflammatory saponins.
Best seeds, nuts, nut butters and oils for smoothies to lower blood pressure
Flaxseeds provide fiber, magnesium, potassium, lignans and omega-3 ALA fats to help lower blood pressure. Use ground flaxseeds.
Walnuts offer plant-based omega-3 ALA fats, magnesium, antioxidants and fiber for heart health. Add a handful to smoothies.
Almonds contain magnesium, calcium, potassium and healthy monounsaturated fats that support healthy blood pressure levels. Enjoy almond butter too.
Pumpkin seeds provide magnesium, potassium, omega-3s and arginine that helps relax blood vessels. Add a tablespoon to smoothies.
Chia seeds are loaded with fiber that absorbs water, omega-3s, potassium, calcium and magnesium to optimize blood pressure.
Hemp seeds give you magnesium, potassium, omega-3s, vitamin E and gamma linolenic acid to reduce hypertension. Add 1-2 tablespoons.
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil contains oleic acid shown to reduce blood pressure. Use 1 tbsp to add healthy fats to smoothies.
Best herbs, teas and spices for smoothies to lower blood pressure
Hibiscus tea made from dried flowers offers anthocyanins and protocatechuic acid that act as antihypertensives. Add brewed hibiscus tea to smoothies.
Cinnamon improves circulation and blood vessel function. Add ground cinnamon or steep cinnamon sticks in hot water for tea.
Cardamom helps enhance blood circulation and flow. Add ground cardamom or brew tea with pods.
Basil contains flavonoids that help relax blood vessels. Use fresh or dried basil leaves.
Mint provides antioxidants and volatile compounds that may lower blood pressure. Add fresh mint leaves.
Rosemary offers anti-inflammatory carnosic acid that improves circulation. Use fresh or dried leaves.
Ginger contains gingerol shown to reduce hypertension. Blend in fresh grated ginger or brew ginger tea.
Green tea has catechins like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that regulate blood pressure. Brew green tea to add.
Best proteins for smoothies to lower blood pressure
Greek yogurt provides blood pressure-regulating potassium, calcium, and probiotics. Use plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt.
Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.
Almond butter offers healthy monounsaturated fats, magnesium, potassium, calcium, protein and fiber.
Peanut butter provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, protein, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E and resveratrol.
Soymilk gives you complete protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, flavonoids and isoflavones. Choose unsweetened.
Edamame contains plant-based protein, magnesium, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and phytosterols to enhance heart health.
Whey protein powder helps increase protein intake to support lower blood pressure levels. Use unflavored varieties.
Chickpeas offer plant-based protein, magnesium, potassium, calcium, folate and soluble fiber for heart health.
Sample smoothie recipes for high blood pressure
Beet Berry Smoothie
– 1 cup beet greens
– 1⁄2 cup blueberries
– 1⁄2 banana
– 1⁄2 cup beetroot, cooked
– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
– Ice cubes
Green Spinach Smoothie
– 1 cup baby spinach
– 1 medium banana
– 1 medium apple, sliced
– 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
– 1 tbsp almond butter
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– Ice cubes
Avocado Tomato Smoothie
– 1⁄2 avocado
– 1⁄2 cup cherry tomatoes
– 1 cup fresh orange juice
– 1⁄4 cup fresh basil leaves
– 1⁄4 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 2 ice cubes
Pomegranate Blueberry Smoothie
– 1 cup pomegranate juice
– 1 cup blueberries
– 1 small banana
– 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
– 1 handful spinach
– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
– Ice cubes
Banana Oat Smoothie
– 1 medium banana
– 1⁄2 cup old fashioned oats
– 2 tbsp peanut butter
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
– 1 tsp honey or stevia to taste
– Ice cubes
Tips for making smoothies to reduce high blood pressure
– Use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables for the most nutrients.
– Include at least 2-3 ingredients high in potassium like bananas, spinach, yogurt.
– Add magnesium-rich foods like spinach, chia seeds, almonds.
– Include nitrate-rich ingredients like beets, carrots, spinach.
– Rotate different fruits and vegetables for variety.
– Use plain, unsweetened milk and yogurt.
– Avoid adding table salt or soy sauce.
– Limit added sugars or sweeteners.
– Use smaller smoothies for portion control.
– Drink smoothies regularly as part of a heart healthy diet.
– Check your blood pressure over time to see effects.
– Consult your doctor about any dietary changes.
While smoothies can be helpful for high blood pressure, speak to your doctor, especially if you are on medication. Those on low potassium diets may need to moderate intake of high potassium fruits and vegetables. Some herbs can interact with medications. Smoothies should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle, not the only change made. Monitor your individual response.
Smoothies provide a delicious and nutritious way to incorporate ingredients that have natural blood pressure lowering effects into your diet. Focus on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables, magnesium, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Drink smoothies along with other lifestyle changes like exercise, sleep, and stress reduction to optimize your heart health and keep blood pressure in a healthy range. Work with your healthcare provider and use smoothies as part of an overall blood pressure management plan.