8 Produce Picks For Better Blood Pressure

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8 Produce Picks For Better Blood Pressureimage © Ezume Images – fotolia.com

While the majority of the population has been getting into the habit of anything green or leafy, the truth of the matter is that vegetables are, without a doubt, good for you. Not only are vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals that make up a healthy diet, certain produce are also rich in substances that have been found by scientific research to act directly against high blood pressure.

Here’s our 8 produce picks for better blood pressure, including links to the scientific studies.

1. Beets

When people experience hypertensive crises, one of the primary lines of treatment is the administration of nitrate tablets. However, nitrates are naturally occurring in beets. This root vegetable is excellent for juicing and consuming during breakfast, the time of day when blood pressure tends to rocket. A recent 2015 study revealed that beetroot juice intake was able to decrease blood pressure in hypertensive patients by 7.7 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 5.2 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. It was also able to improve blood vessel elasticity during the same time period, a factor that directly contributes to blood pressure (the stiffer the blood vessel, the higher the risk for hypertension, also called arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis). [1] Other studies also found that beetroot intake through bread or juice could lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both (a) young and healthy and (b) older and overweight subjects. [2][3]

2. Spinach

Similar to beets, spinach (and other green, leafy vegetables) is rich in nitrates that fight against hypertension. [4] However, they are also rich in ACE-inhibitors (angiotensin I-converting enzyme inhibitors), a primary component used in anti-hypertensive medications. These peptides that work against ACE work at doses of 20 to 100 mg per kg – a very important discovery in the fight against hypertension. [5]

3. Celery

A study was done on celery seed extracts was conducted in 2013 and found that they contained n-butylphthalide (NBP), an anti-hypertensive substance. The extracts were discovered to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive test subjects by improving blood pressure control and diuresis. However, the extracts had no effect on normotensive subjects, implying that celery could only have positive effects on people with chronic hypertension. [6] A newer study in 2015 included more variables in the study of celery’s antihypertensive properties, focusing as well on its effects on cholesterol. They study revealed the celery was not only able to effectively lower blood pressure, it was also able to lower triglyceride and LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) levels. [7]

4. Radish

The results of 2012 study on hypertensive subjects revealed the potential anti-hypertensive effects of radish leaves, specifically their ethyl acetate extracts. Over a period of three weeks, consumption of radish leaves was able to reduce systolic blood pressure by almost 50 mmHg. The researches attributed this reduction of blood pressure to an increase in serum nitrates in the blood and sodium excretion in the feces (nitrates lower blood pressure and sodium increases it). [8] Another way to look at the anti-hypertensive effects of radish is through its direct effect on cardiac function. Radish seed extract is able to inhibit the force and contractions of the heart, thereby lowering blood pressure. [9]

5. Kale

Kale is a popular salad green, not only because of its favorable taste, but also because of its health benefits when it comes to blood pressure and glucose control. Kale is rich in a substance called glutathione, which is able to reduce blood pressure, improve lipid profiles, and reduce blood glucose levels. [10] Kale is also able to protect the kidneys from damage due to a high salt diet, which directly reduces the risk for the progression of hypertension. [11]

6. Lettuce

Another salad green, lettuce has potent anti-hypertensive effects similar to spinach. Lettuce is a source rich in sodium nitrite, a substance that is able to improve blood pressure control and reduce the risk for hypertension. Nitrite is highly bioavailable from lettuce, meaning it is easily absorbed and processed by the body. [12] ACE-inhibitory properties are also found in lettuce (again, similar to spinach). In a 2012 study, lettuce extracts had the highest ACE inhibition property compared to other vegetables. [13]

7. Arugula

Arugula is another vegetable to add to your list of sources of dietary nitrate. It is one of the top five vegetables with high nitrate content, along with other vegetables on this list. [14] Another factor to consider is that arugula has the least amount of glucose compared to other leafy greens, making it a better option for people suffering from weight, blood glucose, and blood pressure problems. [15]

8. Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is known for its ability to lower blood glucose, [16] which indirectly contributes to the reduction of blood pressure through weight loss and prevention of diabetes. A study published in 2002 supports this by discovering Swiss chards’ protective and repairing effect on damaged blood vessels, also decreasing the risk for hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. [17]


[1] Kapil, V., et. al. (2015). Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: a randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25421976

[2] Jajja, A., et. al. (2014). Beetroot supplementation lowers daily systolic blood pressure in older, overweight subjects. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25294299

[3] Hobbs, D., et. al. (2013). Acute ingestion of beetroot bread increases endothelium-independent vasodilation and lowers diastolic blood pressure in healthy men: a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23884387

[4] Iammarino, M., Di Taranto, A. & Cristino, M. (2014). Monitoring of nitrites and nitrates levels in leafy vegetables (spinach and lettuce): a contribution to risk assessment. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24122771

[5] Yang, Y., et. al. (2000). Isolation and antihypertensive effect of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory peptides from spinach Rubisco. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12903942

[6] Moghadam, M., Imenshahidi, M. & Mohajeri, S. (2013). Antihypertensive effect of celery seed on rat blood pressure in chronic administration. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23735001

[7] Dianat, M., et. al. (2015). The effect of hydro-alcoholic celery (Apiumgraveolens) leaf extract on cardiovascular parameters and lipid profile in animal model of hypertension induced by fructose. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26101753

[8] Chung, D., et. al. (2012). The antihypertensive effect of ethyl acetate extract of radish leaves in spontaneously hypertensive rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22977684

[9] Ghayur, M. & Gilani, A. (2006). Radish seed extract mediates its cardiovascular inhibitory effects via muscarinic receptor activation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16448395

[10] Han, J., et. al. (2015). The effect of glutathione S-transferase M1 and T1 polymorphisms on blood pressure, blood glucose, and lipid profiles following the supplementation of kale (Brassica oleracea acephala) juice in South Korean subclinical hypertensive patients. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25671068

[11] Rubattu, S., et. al. (2015). Protective effects of Brassica oleracea sprouts extract toward renal damage in high-salt-fed SHRSP: role of AMPK/PPARα/UCP2 axis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25807219

[12] Hunault, C., et. al. (2009). Bioavailability of sodium nitrite from an aqueous solution in healthy adults. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19576277

[13] Lagemann, A., Dunkel, A. & Hoffman, T. (2012). Activity-guided discovery of (S)-malic acid 1′-O-β-gentiobioside as an angiotensin I-converting enzyme inhibitor in lettuce (Lactuca sativa). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22762370

[14] Fusco, K., et. al. (2013). Eat More Veggies to Boost Your Dietary Nitrates. http://www.usrowing.org/news/details/13-03-18/Eat_More_Veggies_to_Boost_Your_Dietary_Nitrates.aspx

[15] Settaluri, V., et. al. (2015). Review of Biochemical and Nutritional Constituents in Different Green Leafy Vegetables in Oman. http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=57126

[16] Yanardag, R. & Colak, H. (2011). Effect of Chard (Beta vulgaris L. var. cicla) on Blood Glucose Levels in Normal and Alloxan-induced Diabetic Rabbits. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2042-7158.1998.tb00702.x/abstract

[17] Sener, G., et. al. (2002). Effects of chard (Beta vulgaris L. var. cicla) extract on oxidative injury in the aorta and heart of streptozotocin-diabetic rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12511111

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