High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a cardiovascular disease that damages blood vessels and increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks. There are several medications that are designed to lower blood pressure, but the benefits are associated with side effects.
One way of reducing the amount of medications you may have to take is by eating a diet that consists of foods that help to lower blood pressure. This includes vegetables that are rich in potassium, magnesium, and other beneficial nutrients. These nutrients play an essential role in the maintenance of normal blood pressure as well as other vital biological functions.
Vegetables With High Potassium Content
Most vegetables that lower blood pressure contain potassium. The recommended daily intake of this mineral depends on your age.
For infants up to six months of age, 400 mg of potassium is recommended, while 700 mg is required between ages six months and 12 months. From age one to three, 3.5 g is required, and 3.8 g is enough for ages four to eight. Between nine and 18 years, 4.5 g is recommended. Everyone over 18 needs about 4.7 g.
The following vegetables are good sources for potassium. The serving size is one cup, unless otherwise noted.
- Boiled green beans - 373 mg
- Raw carrots - 394 mg
- Steamed broccoli - 505 mg
- Cooked kidney beans - 713 mg
- Boiled spinach - 838 mg
- Baked winter squash - 895 mg
- Boiled Swiss chard - 960 mg
- Cooked lima beans - 955 mg
Importance of Potassium
Potassium plays several roles. An abnormally low potassium level may increase the risk of high blood pressure, since it counteracts the effects of sodium. Potassium is required for muscle contraction and nerve transmission. A low potassium level causes impairment in both these functions. Together with sodium and calcium, it maintains the electrolyte and pH balance. Potassium may also play a role in preventing bone loss.
Vegetables High In Magnesium
Vegetables that are high in magnesium may also help to control blood pressure. The recommended daily intake for magnesium also varies by age.
- For infants up to six months of age, 30 mg is recommended. Between six and 12 months, 60 mg is needed.
- From age one to three, 80 mg is required, and 120 mg is required from age four to eight.
- Kids between nine and 13 should consume 240 mg.
- Males 14-18 years need 410 mg, while females 14-18 years need 360 mg.
- Males 19-30 require 310 mg, while females 19-30 require 310.
- Males over 31 need 420 mg, while females over 31 need 320 mg.
Vegetables that lower blood pressure also are good sources of magnesium. The serving size for the following vegetables is one cup, unless otherwise noted.
- Swiss chard, boiled - 150 mg
- Spinach, boiled - 157 mg
- Kelp (sea vegetable) 0.25 cup - 24 mg
- Summer squash, cooked, slices 1 cup - 43 mg
- Soybeans, cooked - 148 mg
- Lima beans, cooked - 81 mg
- Cauliflower, boiled - 11 mg
- Carrots, raw - 18 mg
Importance of Magnesium
Magnesium is mostly found in the bones, and its concentration in the blood is small when compared to other minerals. Abnormally low magnesium levels have been associated with high blood pressure and muscle spasms. Normally, magnesium helps to maintain blood pressure, blood sugar levels, muscle tone, and it relaxes nerves.
Magnesium is used for hundreds of metabolic reactions, usually by enzymes. It aids in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle weakness, tremor, increased heart rate, and irregular heart rhythm.
Vegetables With Folic Acid
Folic acid may also help reduce blood pressure, but the research is still on-going. It is believed that folic acid, also known as folate, may lower blood pressure by helping blood vessel relax and by improving blood flow. The recommended daily intake for folic acid varies by age. For infants under six months of age, 30 mg of folic acid is recommended. From age six to 12 months, 80 mg is required. From age one to three years, 150 mg is needed. Between four and eight years, 200 mg is recommended. The daily requirement increases to 300 mg between the ages of nine and 13. Everyone over 14 years of age require 400 mg.
The following vegetables are good sources of folic acid. The serving size is one cup, unless noted otherwise.
- Romaine lettuce, 2 cup - 152 mg
- Spinach, boiled - 263 mg
- Asparagus, boiled - 263 mg
- Turnip greens, cooked - 170 mg
- Collard greens, boiled - 177 mg
- Green peas, boiled - 101 mg
1. Author unknown, “Foods That Lower Blood Pressure.” Foods-that-heal.com. https://www.foods-that-heal.com/foods-that-lower-blood-pressure.html
2. “Potassium.” WHFoods. https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=90
3. “Magnesium.” WHFoods. https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=75
4. “Folate.” WHFoods. https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=63
5. Author unknown, “Folic Acid May Fight Blood Pressure.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20050118/folic-acid-may-fight-high-blood-pressure