If you have high blood pressure, I’m sure you’ve pondered what in the world you can eat or drink to help lower it. You’re not alone. The truth is there ARE specific foods with science-backed evidence of blood pressure-lowering capabilities. Here, I’ve sifted through some commonly asked (food-related) blood pressure questions and answered them all!
My goal was to be short and sweet, while still giving the science behind each answer.
Keep in mind that no specific food alone is proven to cure high blood pressure. Following a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle in addition to other physician-approved interventions will be your best bet at controlling your blood pressure. 🥰
>>To learn about key differences between hypotension and hypertension, read: What Is The Difference Between Hypotension and Hypertension?
>>To manage high blood pressure at home, read: Hypertension Self-Care: Your Ultimate Plan For Lowering Blood Pressure at Home.
If I missed any blood pressure questions that you’re still wondering about, let me know by leaving a comment below and I’ll make sure to update this post!
Table of Contents
Why Hypertension Is So Serious
First, I want to talk about the seriousness of high blood pressure (AKA hypertension).
Hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease which is the #1 cause of death worldwide. High blood pressure may not be something you notice right away but can be silently causing damage inside your arteries and to your heart.
This is why getting regular check-ups with your doctor and having all of your blood pressure questions answered is crucial to good health.
Okay, thanks for allowing that little public service announcement…now let’s answer some blood pressure questions!
Food Blood Pressure Questions
Here are a few questions regarding specific foods and their effects on blood pressure. Be sure to read the expert advice and comments for my take on each question and any important tips.
Is Sea Moss Good for High Blood Pressure?
Sea moss is also sometimes referred to as Irish moss. It is a small, spiny, red algae that is found mainly in the coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
This seaweed is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In Japan, red algae have long been used as a preventative therapy for high blood pressure.
One study reports that dosages of 4 grams per day are safe however sea moss is not approved by the FDA.
Other species of seaweed are also known to have cardiovascular benefits. For example, Pyropia pseudolinearis has ACE inhibitory peptides which lower blood pressure. And Ulva rigida, a green algae, may help lower LDL cholesterol.
Expert Advice/Comments: Sea moss does show promising evidence of blood pressure-lowering abilities. One thing to be mindful of with sea moss is the high iodine content and heavy metals in some sea moss supplements. And if you choose to eat sea moss raw (which you can), it will have a slimy texture and fishy smell which may be off-putting for some individuals.
Is Pickle Juice Good for High Blood Pressure?
Pickles and pickle juice are generally high in sodium. As most of us are aware, high sodium intake and hypertension aren’t a recipe for good health.
Pickle juice also has electrolytes, which make it okay to drink small amounts when you are dehydrated or after intense bouts of exercise. But as far as high blood pressure, the high sodium content will cause fluid retention, leading to even higher blood pressure.
Expert Advice/Comments: No. Skip this one if you have hypertension. Pickle juice is too high in sodium for those who already have high blood pressure. Unless you need to replace your sodium, drink water or another low or no-sodium beverage.
Do Onions Lower Blood Pressure?
Evidence is promising on this one. Onions are high in an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoid, called quercetin. Studies in rats, mice, and humans have all shown blood-pressure-lowering effects when quercetin was given (1, 2, 3). This is likely due to the improved blood flow and release of nitric oxide that occurs when quercetin is consumed.
Studies so far show that consuming 162 mg of quercetin daily can help lower blood pressure by 3.6 millimeters of mercury (4). Red and yellow onions are particularly high in quercetin compared to other onions. However, 162 mg is still difficult to obtain from onions alone which have only 28–48 mg of quercetin per ~2/3-cup serving.
Even then, you’d have to eat them raw since the cooking process reduces the quercetin content by 30% (5). Who eats that many raw onions every day? 😵
Expert Advice/Comments: Yes. Onions do have components that have mild blood pressure-lowering effects. This may be especially beneficial for those with pre-hypertension. An adequate amount of quercetin is needed each day to see the blood-pressuring lowering effects. This can be more easily obtained by consuming onions along with other foods that are high in quercetin like berries, apples, asparagus, citrus fruits, tea, and red wine (6).
Is Brown Rice Good for High Blood Pressure?
Brown rice has more fiber than white rice. As a whole, diets that are rich in fiber from whole grains, like brown rice, oatmeal, and barley, can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Studies show that eating more whole grains in place of refined grains is also better at keeping blood sugars stable.
Expert Advice/Comments: Brown rice is the better option compared to white rice, as it has more fiber and essential nutrients to potentially lower blood pressure and benefit the heart as a whole. However, research still does not have enough evidence to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Is Papaya Good for High Blood Pressure?
Research shows that the pulp, juice, leaves, and seeds of the papaya plant have antioxidant and antihypertensive effects in both rat and human studies (7).
Additional benefits of papaya are that it is high in polyphenols and nutrients like potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, and B complex vitamins which can protect against cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Papaya may also be used as a treatment for blood sugar control and obesity, which makes it a great fruit to add to your diet to prevent metabolic disorders.
Expert Advice/Comments: Yes! Papaya is a good source of potassium, which plays a very important role in maintaining blood pressure by balancing sodium levels. It also has other nutrients our bodies need to help reduce oxidative stress, protect blood vessels, promote blood flow, balance blood sugars, and prevent heart disease and metabolic disorders. Try enjoying papaya raw or use it in smoothies.
Does Celery Lower Blood Pressure?
Celery is a vegetable that contains many flavonoids along with heart-healthy nutrients, such as vitamin K, folate, potassium, fiber, manganese, and pantothenic acid (a B vitamin).
In one study on a man >70 years old with high blood pressure and neck pain, eating celery along with chiropractic treatment resulted in significant improvements in blood pressure from 150/80 to 118/82 over 6 months.
And yet another study shows how celery phthalides can help expand smooth muscle in the blood vessels which helps lower blood pressure and protect against metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood pressure, lipid disorders, abdominal obesity, and high blood sugars).
Expert Advice/Comments: Yes! Eating celery, not just the juice, either by itself or in conjunction with other treatments may help you lower blood pressure. The recommended dosage is about 1 cup of celery each day.
Does Oatmeal Lower Blood Pressure?
You may be aware that oats help lower cholesterol, but what about blood pressure?
Well, oatmeal is also great at lowering blood pressure. This is thanks to the high content of viscous fiber, called beta-glucan, along with GABA (a non-protein amino acid), high-quality plant protein, and fermentable prebiotic fiber (8).
One small randomized controlled trial resulted in lower blood pressure and a reduction in blood pressure medications over 3 months by increasing their dietary fiber with oat bran!
Expert Advice/Comments: Yes! Oatmeal and oat bran can both help lower blood pressure as well as lower cholesterol, help control blood sugars, and maintain a healthy weight.
Related recipe: Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal (With Bonus Oats Review)
Condiment and Spice Blood Pressure Questions
Here are a few questions regarding specific condiments or spices and their effect on blood pressure. Be sure to read the expert advice and comments for a summary of each question and any additional tips.
Does Mustard Lower Blood Pressure?
Mustard the condiment will NOT lower blood pressure, however, mustard oil and mustard seeds do have compounds that may contribute to lowering blood pressure.
It also contains allyl isothiocyanate, a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent (10).
Mustard oil is also high in erucic acid as well. Some studies show that high levels of erucic acid may lead to abnormal fatty deposits in rats, called cardiac lipidosis. Research has yet to confirm harm in humans, however.
Still, because of these findings, the FDA has banned mustard oil in the United States, though it is still used often as a heart-healthy oil in many other countries.
Expert Advice/Comments: Don’t bank on this one. More research needs to be done on how mustard oil may impact blood pressure and heart health. Though I will say that mustard oil is a healthier alternative to coconut oil and palm oil (which are high in saturated fat).
Does Garlic Lower Blood Pressure?
There is promising evidence for this claim, of course, studies are conflicting.
The majority of newer research shows the most blood pressure-lowering benefits from aged garlic extract (AGE) supplements.
One review of 6 different studies shows that garlic supplementation lowered both systolic (top number) and diastolic (lower number) blood pressure. Amazingly, it also helped lower total cholesterol and decreased the progression of coronary artery calcium build-up in arteries over time (11).
Other benefits of aged garlic extract are:
- decreased inflammation
- improved gut microbiota
- lower arterial stiffness
Any unwanted side effects of garlic use are usually from using raw garlic (bad breath, body odor, mild stomach disturbance, etc.). But this can be avoided by using AGE supplements.
Expert Advice/Comments: This blood pressure question is a good one! Meaning yes, there is truth to this. As studies mention, the most benefits to blood pressure are seen when using aged garlic extract.
As far as dosages, the NIH recommends taking 600-900 mg of garlic powder per day or 1,200 mg of Kyolic brand aged garlic extract for a trial period of 12 weeks.
Does Sugar Increase Blood Pressure?
This is an interesting blood pressure question because normally we think of salt (sodium) as a main contributor to high blood pressure. However, sugar intake can raise blood pressure as well!
Added sugars are a known contributor to heart disease. The more you consume, the more inflammation it causes. This leads to the hardening of arteries and weight gain which leads to obesity.
One of the top culprits of added sugars is sugar-sweetened beverages.
Indirectly, consuming added sugars that lead to obesity can have a major negative impact on your blood pressure.
Expert Advice/Comments: Yes! Limiting overall sugar and added sugars in your diet is a great way to help lower your blood pressure. My suggestion is to eat fruit instead which has natural sugars, called fructose, which can help lower your blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars daily, while men limit themselves to 9 teaspoons daily.
Does Turmeric Lower Blood Pressure?
Turmeric is a spice with active components, called curcuminoids. These curcuminoids have multiple health benefits, including:
- lowering oxidative stress and inflammation
- reducing vascular dysfunction and arterial stiffness
- reducing high blood pressure
Studies on its use for blood pressure are inconclusive, with some research showing that turmeric supplements may help lower systolic (top number) blood pressure, but not diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure (15). Additionally, the curcumin present in turmeric may also add to the effects of antihypertensive and blood-thinning drugs (16).
Expert Advice/Comments: While turmeric is an amazing root with many healthful properties, turmeric supplements or consuming turmeric root will not likely have a major impact on lowering your blood pressure. One thing that is also important to know is that large amounts of turmeric may upset your stomach or cause kidney stones (16). I’ll stick to using turmeric in recipes only.
Related recipe: Turmeric Balls: The Anti-Inflammatory Pick-Me-Up
Beverage Blood Pressure Questions
Here are a few questions regarding specific beverages and their effect on blood pressure. Be sure to read the expert advice and comments for a summary of each question and any additional tips.
Can Drinking Cold Water Lower Your Blood Pressure?
This blood pressure question is a tricky one. Just because what little evidence is available is from studies with small sample sizes. AND fluid intake can affect your blood pressure both ways, meaning there are instances where it can lower it and when it can raise it. Let me explain.
With cold water in particular, studies show that it may actually RAISE blood pressure because the cold temperature is restricting blood vessels which causes blood pressure to rise. This was also tested with cold carbonated water with the same blood pressure-raising results (17).
This blood pressure-raising effect of cold water is only temporary and was more pronounced in older adults versus younger adults.
The same study above also tested room temperature water, which was also found to raise blood pressure, but not nearly as much as cold water or carbonated water.
In contrast, drinking warm water is believed to help lower blood pressure by relaxing and dilating blood vessels.
Expert Advice/Comments: More research needs to be done to provide a solid answer to this question. If you have high blood pressure and still want to enjoy a cold glass of water or a carbonated beverage, go ahead! And by no means is this an excuse to avoid drinking water. We need to drink proper amounts of fluid daily to avoid dehydration which has negative impacts on blood pressure.
Does Drinking Hibiscus Tea Lower Blood Pressure?
A review of several randomized controlled trials shows that drinking hibiscus tea may be effective at lowering blood pressure.
Research studies vary greatly as far as dosage, frequency, and effectiveness.
Some studies report the benefits of hibiscus tea on lowering systolic blood pressure but not diastolic blood pressure. Others report benefits to both upper and lower blood pressure numbers (18). And yet others show no benefit whatsoever (19).
Each of these studies also differed on what hibiscus tea was being compared to; antihypertensive medications, other tea beverages, etc.
Expert Advice/Comments: Hibiscus tea is a great addition to your normal beverage routine. It has an amazing taste and a beautiful pink hue. However, the research here is inconclusive as to whether it can significantly lower your blood pressure. Many studies show greater benefits to those with high blood pressure to start with and that hibiscus tea intake is not more effective than using blood pressure medications (18).
Does Beet Juice Lower Blood Pressure?
Beet juice is a good source of nitric oxide which helps improve blood vessel dysfunction (20). In a study on healthy older adults, beetroot juice consumption proved to benefit systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as improve blood flow through arteries.
Similar results from other studies show that beet juice can have a worthwhile impact on lowering one’s blood pressure. In addition, beetroot juice can improve cardiovascular health and increase how much oxygen and nutrients are delivered to organs (21, 22, 23).
Expert Advice/Comments: Yes! Including beets and beet juice in your diet can help lower your blood pressure due to the amount of organic nitric oxide it contains. For a delicious way to get more into your diet, try the recipe below.
Related recipe: Beet Smoothie for High Blood Pressure.
Does Lemon Water Lower Blood Pressure?
Lemons, especially lemon peels contain high amounts of phenolic compounds, flavanones, vitamins, minerals, and essential oils. Lemons and other citrus fruits also contain a special flavanone called hesperidin. Many animal studies show how hesperidin lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
Evidence also shows that daily consumption of lemons in addition to walking will help lower blood pressure (24).
And lastly, other evidence shows that fruit consumption of 530-600 gm daily may also protect against high blood pressure (25).
Expert Advice/Comments: So, does lemon water lower blood pressure? It’s not likely to worsen it, but I wouldn’t rely solely on lemon water to improve your hypertension. Like beet juice, lemon water is also a great addition to your daily fluid intake which can help add vital nutrients to your diet, contributing to overall health.
FYI, if you are taking some medications that may be affected by citrus, then please avoid lemon water.
Does Decaf Coffee Raise Blood Pressure?
There is evidence that caffeinated coffee can raise blood pressure in both persons with and without blood pressure issues. Although it seems that this is only short-term.
For long-term or habitual coffee drinkers, the blood pressure-raising effects of coffee are shown to be insignificant and do not increase blood pressure or heart disease risk in those with hypertension (26, 27).
In fact, many recent studies support regular coffee consumption for heart health. This is because while coffee does contain caffeine (80-100 mg caffeine per 8-ounce cup), it is also rich in phenolic compounds, including chlorogenic acid (CGA).
In comparison, decaffeinated coffee ranges from 2-15 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. The research on decaf coffee varies as well, with some studies showing it may help lower blood pressure only slightly (28).
Expert Advice/Comments: Regular or decaffeinated coffee consumption of 2-4 cups per day seems to be okay and even beneficial to blood pressure and heart health. However, keep in mind that some individuals may be sensitive to caffeine. If you do not normally drink coffee and have high blood pressure, I recommend decaf to avoid raising your blood pressure.
Do Energy Drinks Raise Blood Pressure?
With the popularity of energy drink consumption on the rise, there are also many health concerns. Most of these are regarding children and adolescents consuming these highly-caffeinated beverages. Though, what about adults?
The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can easily be upwards of 200 mg per serving. For those with high blood pressure and blood flow issues, energy drinks can pose a potential danger to current health conditions.
Research on this topic shows that short-term consumption of energy drinks may raise blood pressure significantly. Much of the evidence is based on otherwise healthy young adults (29). Therefore, more research needs to be done on those at-risk for cardiovascular disease and with high blood pressure.
Expert Advice/Comments: The answer to this blood pressure question is a resounding YES. Energy drinks DO raise blood pressure and heart rate. And even though minimal evidence exists on the impact of energy drinks on those already with heart issues, it is my professional opinion to avoid energy drinks if you have high blood pressure or issues with blood flow and circulation.
And One Important Medication Question
This situation happens more than you realize, so I feel answering this critical medication-related blood pressure question should also be included here.
What Happens If You Take Your Blood Pressure Medicine Twice?
If you accidentally take your blood pressure medication twice, it could lead to some scary outcomes such as:
- dangerously low pressure
- breathing issues
- changes in vision
If this ends up happening to you, your symptoms will vary depending on the specific blood pressure medication you’re taking (30, 31). Sometimes people have no issues, but other times people may have severe symptoms requiring a trip to the emergency room.
It’s important to monitor your symptoms and blood pressure. If suspect you’ve had an overdose of your blood pressure medication, contact poison control immediately (phone: 1-800-222-1222) as well as your healthcare provider. And if you are experiencing severe symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Expert Advice/Comments: Hopefully this never happens to you and you’re able to follow a consistent medication routine. Depending on the blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitor, beta-blocker, etc.) and dosage you take, you may or may not have to take a trip to the ER. Monitor symptoms closely and call your doctor, poison control, or 9-1-1 as needed.
I hope these answers bring you some clarity regarding questions you’ve had regarding foods, beverages, spices, etc. that may affect your blood pressure. Again, these are just some of the more common ones.
The first thing your doctor or dietitian may tell you if you have high blood pressure is to limit your overall sodium intake. These include the MANY foods that are high in sodium. And if you have low blood pressure, sodium should not be limited unless you’re doctor tells you to.
For a great handout on sodium that includes foods that are high and low in sodium, snack ideas, salt substitute options, and more, you can visit the RD2RD website and get my sodium facts handout!
Or check out other ways you can protect your heart by reading, 5 Things You Can Do to Support Heart Health NOW.
Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.