High blood pressure, or hypertension, is an epidemic facing the United States. More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, and the condition played a primary or contributing factor in 360,000 deaths in 2013. The most effective way to combat this problem is to make lifestyle changes, including a healthier diet. This level of commitment may frighten away some people who could really use the help, though.
Luckily, there are delicious snacks that can help you lower your blood pressure. These treats are easily added to your diet without calling for a difficult recipe or hard-to-find ingredients. While they won’t completely eradicate your blood pressure issues on their own, they’re easy, tasty options that can make a difference.
Low-Fat Yogurt Parfait
A parfait is traditionally a dessert made of layers of frozen custard or cream, whipped cream, and fruit. It’s since been transformed into a healthy breakfast snack that’s easily edible on the go. It’s also a great way for us to combine three ingredients that all lower your blood pressure — low-fat yogurt, oatmeal, and blueberries.
Low-fat yogurt is proven to protect against high blood pressure, while other studies corroborate that low-fat dairy lowers your risk of hypertension. Oatmeal and other grains also help due to their high fiber, low fat, and low sodium content, which all help lower blood pressure. Finally, recent studies have shown blueberries are quite the superfood. Not only are they excellent for your brain and heart, they can also lower your blood pressure.
Heart Healthy Morning Parfait
- 1 cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt
- ½ cup of oatmeal
- 1 cup of fresh, washed blueberries
- Place a 1-inch layer of yogurt on the bottom of a glass
- Add a ½-inch layer of oatmeal
- Cover the oatmeal with a layer of blueberries
- Repeat this sequence until you’ve almost reached the top of the glass
- You can either stir the ingredients together to mix, garnish the top of the parfait with sprinkles of oatmeal and berries, or leave as is
- Serve before the oatmeal gets soggy
If you’re looking for a treat that requires little to no preparation, look no further than pistachios. With little muss or fuss, you can easily snack on these nuts in between meals. Nuts in general can help you avoid hypertension, with their low saturated fats and low sodium. They’re also high in potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
Pistachios have been singled out, however, as particularly effective. One comprehensive review of studies from 1958 to 2013 found that of all the nuts, pistachios had the strongest positive effect on blood pressure levels. Another study from 2014 found that adults who ate three ounces of pistachios a day for four weeks saw reduced systolic blood pressure levels.
Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie
“What about a filling drink?” we can hear you asking. Well, we’ve got a smoothie for you. Smoothies are a great way to add healthy nutrients into your diet. You can make them from nearly any fruit or vegetable, mixed with a bit of dairy or ice. This makes them high in nutrients, but lower in calories.
For our blood pressure-blasting smoothie, we’ll take a classic combination — bananas and peanut butter. Peanuts and peanut butter can lower your blood pressure, but it’s worth noting that you should use a low fat or low sodium variety. Many peanut butters are loaded with sodium and trans fats, which can increase your blood pressure. A discerning eye here can save you a lot of grief. As for bananas, we mentioned how potassium helps combat hypertension. There aren’t many foods out there with more potassium than bananas. Both have concerns, since bananas are high in sugar and peanut butter can be unhealthy. That said, in moderate amounts the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Your New Favorite Smoothie (Peanut Butter/Banana Smoothie)
- 1 banana, cut into 1-inch slices
- ¼ cup of peanut butter
- ¼ cup of almond milk
- 2 tbsp of non-fat vanilla yogurt
- 4 ice cubes, more for a thicker smoothie
- Add ice cubes to a blender and blend on pulse until broken up
- Add banana slices and blend until smooth
- Add the peanut butter, yogurt, and almond milk and blend until smooth
American Heart Association — Healthy Snacking