9 Natural & Effective Ways to Lower Blood Pressure, According to Heart Experts

Medication-free strategies to help you manage your high blood pressure.

a photo of a woman jogging outside

Getty Images

One of the many reasons I love being a dietitian is sharing with people how powerful food truly is. Certain foods can help manage health conditions such as diabetes, and others can help support the healthy functioning of internal systems such as our digestive tract. Even more so, food can also boost our energy levels, improve our mood and lower blood pressure, which is especially important for those managing hypertension.

Nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Hypertension occurs when the force of blood pushing against the artery walls is consistently too high. Having hypertension can put you at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

The good news is that there are countless ways to manage blood pressure through food choices and lifestyle modifications without relying on medications. To help you navigate these options, we spoke to a team of heart-health experts, including a cardiologist and two registered dietitians. They’ve shared science-backed tips to help you lower blood pressure naturally.

1. Watch Out for Sodium

On average, American adults consume a whopping 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily, most of which actually doesn’t come from the saltshaker. Pankaj Lal, M.D., FACC, a board-certified cardiologist and owner of Capital Cardiac Care in Maryland, says, “The American Heart Association recommends anyone with hypertension to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.” 

Most people’s high salt intake may come from pre-made meals, as meals we eat out tend to have higher amounts of sodium compared to home-cooked meals. It may also come from other salty culprits like condiments, canned foods and snacks like pretzels, crackers or chips. You may be surprised to discover that your favorite BBQ sauce is sky-high in sodium. Lal also recommends using substitutes like dried herbs and spices instead of salt when cooking at home. 

2. Focus on Potassium

Did you know that potassium does the exact opposite of sodium in your body?” says Veronica Rouse, M.A.N., RD, CDE, owner of The Heart Dietitian. She says, “Incorporating more potassium-rich foods like spinach, sweet potatoes, legumes and avocados into your diet, you can help balance out the negative effects of salt on your blood pressure.” While sodium increases your blood pressure due to promoting fluid retention, potassium not only lessens the effects of sodium but also helps reduce tension in your blood vessel walls.

So whip up a spinach salad, add sweet potatoes to your next batch of chili, use lentils to make burgers, and toss avocados into your morning smoothie to bump up your intake of potassium-rich foods. 

3. Choose Whole Grains

Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, media dietitian, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table, says, “Whole grains may improve heart health because they are rich in fiber and can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.” She says the first ingredients listed on a bread product should be "whole grains" or "whole wheat." Other whole grains she says you can also toss into your shopping cart are brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, sorghum and oats. 

4. Get Moving

Plopping down on the couch after a long day sounds more appealing than lacing up sneakers and hitting the gym, but moving more has heart benefits. “The best cure for high blood pressure is being active. Try at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week, or vigorous activity for 75 minutes per week,” says Lal. Find a form of movement you enjoy so you’ll stick with it. Dancing, walking, Pilates and cycling all count toward your physical activity minutes. 

5. Load Up on Calcium

Not only is calcium a bone supporter, but eating enough calcium can also support healthy blood pressure. Rouse says, “Calcium helps blood vessels tighten and relax when needed, allowing for smoother blood flow and reducing stress on the artery walls.” If you love dairy, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese and milk are great options to meet your goals. If you don’t like dairy or have lactose intolerance, you can get enough calcium by sipping fortified orange juice and eating kale, spinach, tofu, canned salmon or sardines.

6. Nosh on Nuts and Seeds

Whether you prefer to crack open pistachios, walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds, noshing on seeds and nuts can help lower the risk of heart disease. Taub-Dix says, “Nuts and seeds have been shown to support heart health, and they provide magnesium and potassium, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins that may help to reduce blood pressure.” The beauty of nuts and seeds is their versatility. You can sprinkle them on almost any dish, such as cereal, oats, yogurt, grain bowls, soup or salad. They add a nutty flavor and plenty of crunch. Just be sure to choose unsalted varieties.

7. Limit Alcohol 

Limiting your nightly glass (or glasses) of vino or beer can keep your heart happy. Lal says, “Consistent and excessive use of alcohol on a daily basis may also increase your risk of hypertension. Guidelines state no more than two servings a day for males and one serving a day for females.” For reference, one serving is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. That said, you don’t have to cut out alcohol completely (unless recommended by your health care provider). For a delicious and booze-free option, try one of our mocktail recipes.

8. Eat More Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the busiest minerals; it's involved in over 300 bodily functions and plays a role in blood pressure regulation. Rouse says, “Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.” Luckily, magnesium is found in many delicious foods like whole-wheat bread, pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, black beans and dark chocolate. 

9. Boost Up on Berries

Grab a bowl of berries for a heart-healthy boost. Taub-Dix says, “Berries are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids, which play a role in controlling hypertension.” Research has shown that berries may help normalize blood pressure in people with hypertension. Plus, berries also contain lots of fiber, and a high-fiber diet positively affects blood pressure.

Other Tips for Managing Your Blood Pressure

While the previous strategies can help with managing blood pressure, here are other helpful tips:

  • Make sure you’re meeting your daily fluid needs. Dehydration can also lead to high blood pressure over a prolonged period of time. While water is a great way to stay hydrated, incorporating water-rich foods and other drinks like coffee, tea or juice also helps with proper hydration.
  • If you’ve been searching for a structured plan for what you should eat each day, the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet are both well-regarded for blood pressure control. Look through our 30 days of DASH diet recipes for inspiration.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can also help decrease blood pressure. “Regulating your blood pressure can be a frustrating process, but with the combination of a healthy diet, adequate exercise and keeping a healthy weight, managing blood pressure becomes much easier to do,” says Lal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What helps lower blood pressure quickly? 

Only medications can lower blood pressure quickly. It is normal for blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day. It may increase when you are active or stressed and lower at rest. While lifestyle changes can’t provide an immediate fix, they are crucial for long-term management.

Does drinking water lower blood pressure? 

Staying well-hydrated and meeting daily fluid goals can help keep blood pressure healthy. However, drinking a single glass of water will not immediately lower blood pressure.

Can you reverse high blood pressure naturally? 

Sticking to a heart-healthy diet and engaging in regular activity can help manage high blood pressure and potentially even reverse it. Diet and lifestyle modifications are usually the first line of care when treating high blood pressure. If blood pressure remains high after implementing these modifications, medications are prescribed to assist with lowering it. 

Do bananas lower blood pressure?

Bananas contain potassium, fiber and vitamin C, which can all support a healthy heart. However, no single food can lower high blood pressure. It is essential to follow a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet. 

The Bottom Line

If you have high blood pressure, diet and lifestyle modifications, like following a heart-healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity, can support your heart and manage blood pressure. Always consult with your health care team for personalized advice before beginning a new diet or exercise program.

Was this page helpful?
EatingWell uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts About Hypertension.

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Sodium in Your Diet.

  3. American Heart Association. How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure.

  4. Arnesen EK, Thorisdottir B, Bärebring L, et al. Nuts and seeds consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and their risk factors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Food & Nutrition Research. 2023;67. doi:10.29219/fnr.v67.8961

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol Questions and Answers.

  6. Vendrame S, Adekeye TE, Klimis-Zacas D. The role of Berry consumption on blood pressure regulation and hypertension: An overview of the clinical evidence. Nutrients. 2022;14(13):2701. doi:10.3390/nu14132701

  7. Tejani VN, Dhillon SS, Damarlapally N, et al. The relationship between dietary fiber intake and blood pressure worldwide: A systematic review. Cureus. 2023. doi:10.7759/cureus.46116

Related Articles