If you have high blood pressure, you probably know that what you eat can make a difference. Following a diet like the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet, for example, can help bring your blood pressure down. But you might not pay as much attention to the things you drink as you do to those you eat.
It’s crucial to pay attention to your blood pressure. When your blood pressure is high, the strain it creates can cause buildups that narrow your arteries over time. When the buildups get big enough to block blood flow to your heart, you can have a heart attack.
Here are a few drinks that can lower your blood pressure reading. Keep in mind that while they might help, they are part of an overall lifestyle that’s better for your blood pressure and your heart health. “Pairing drinks that help your blood pressure with lifestyles that include exercise and eating healthy are best,” said Karly Nelson, a registered dietitian with Banner Health. “You can't expect drinking pomegranate juice will be the magic food to fix you.”
Black and green teas contain catechins. Catechins are antioxidants that relax the smooth muscles in your blood vessels. Relaxing these muscles can lower your blood pressure.
You’ll find the nutrients magnesium and potassium in milk. They both help your heart pump appropriately.
Beets contain nitrates, which your body converts to nitric oxide. “Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure,” Nelson said. Research has found that juice from both raw and cooked beets can make a difference, but raw beet juice has a more powerful effect.
Pomegranates contain polyphenols, which are compounds found in some foods that decrease inflammation. Pomegranate juice also inhibits angiotensin-containing enzymes (ACE). That’s the effect you get from ACE inhibitors, often prescribed to people with heart disease to help lower blood pressure.
Don’t stop taking your medications and drink juice instead, however. “Always take the medications your doctor has prescribed. Drinks do not replace pharmaceutical therapies,” Nelson said.
Like pomegranates, berries contain polyphenols, and research has found that berry juice can lower blood pressure. Cranberry and cherry juices came out on top in one study.
Researchers have found that drinking a glass of tomato juice daily lowered both blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which is a harmful type of cholesterol. They studied unsalted tomato juice, which is a better choice—tomato juice with salt can have high levels of sodium, which can increase your blood pressure.
What about a cup of coffee?
When it comes to coffee and blood pressure, there’s no easy answer. Most people with high blood pressure can drink moderate amounts of coffee—one to three cups daily—without increasing their blood pressure. “Even though coffee contains caffeine, it has other blood pressure regulating components such as chlorogenic acid, trigonelline, kahweol, cafestol, ferulic acid and melanoidins,” Nelson said.
But caffeine can cause a spike in your blood pressure. People who regularly drink caffeine may have a higher blood pressure than those who don’t. “It’s best to avoid caffeine before exercise or physical labor if you have high blood pressure,” Nelson said. That’s because physical activity temporarily increases your blood pressure, and you don’t want it to increase too much. “Follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to caffeine consumption,” she said.
Steer clear of alcohol
If you have high blood pressure, it’s best not to drink alcohol. If you do, keep it to one glass a day or less for women and two glasses a day or less for men. You may have heard that red wine is good for your heart, but Nelson said that’s a myth. “Alcohol releases endorphins, cortisol and histamine within the body and increases plasma renin activity. These cause the blood pressure to rise,” she said. Drinking alcohol can also affect your body’s sodium levels and cause you to retain water. That extra fluid in your body can increase your blood pressure.
Other drinks to avoid
Drinks that contain a lot of added sugar aren’t good choices. Sodas and sweetened drinks can raise your blood pressure as well as your risk of heart disease. Skip the energy drinks, too. They can have high levels of both sugar and caffeine.
The bottom line
What you choose to drink can have an effect on your blood pressure. Some juices, teas and milk can help lower it, while alcohol, drinks with added sugar and energy drinks can raise it. If you would like to connect with a health care provider who can help you evaluate your diet and find ways to control your blood pressure, reach out to Banner Health.