Fruits contain important vitamins and minerals. They can help you to get healthy and should be an essential part of your daily diet.1
We all have been hearing this statement since childhood, and no matter how cliché it sounds, the role that fruits play in our health cannot be ignored. In individuals with hypertension, fruits can help to lower high blood pressure. So, instead of discussing the obvious, this article will focus on a more specific topic – “how can fruits help keep your blood pressure in check?” An understanding of how eating fruits lowers blood pressure may encourage people to inculcate healthy eating habits.2
To understand this, let us first understand “what” causes high blood pressure.
What causes high blood pressure?
High blood pressure occurs when blood exerts a higher than normal pressure on the walls of the blood vessels. If left uncontrolled, it can put you at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.3 The intake of too much salt is one of the major factors that cause hypertension.4 Another biological factor responsible for high blood pressure is the presence of excess fluids in the body. Kidneys play a significant role in filtering the excess fluid out into the urine. To remove the extra fluids from the blood, the kidneys require a delicate balance of potassium and sodium in the blood.5
A variation in either of the nutrients in the blood can disturb the sodium-potassium balance. This imbalance may reduce the ability of the kidneys to filter out excess fluids that could build up in the blood, resulting in high blood pressure.5
Inadequate consumption of potassium is related to an increased risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Studies suggest that an increased intake of potassium in your diet helps to lower blood pressure. One factor responsible for potassium deficiency in individuals with high blood pressure is not eating sufficient fruits.6
Fruits are one of the best naturally available sources of potassium. Eating sufficient fruits can help you get the potassium levels that helps restore the sodium-potassium imbalance seen in individuals with high blood pressure, thus, lowering the blood pressure.7
The DASH diet8, a diet plan for lowering blood pressure, recommends eating 4-5 servings of fruit a day. The following amounts represent one serving:
- 1 medium-sized piece of fruit
- ½ cup canned or chopped fruit
- ½ cup fruit juice
- ¼ cup dried fruit
The diet also recommends choosing fruits over fruit juice.8
All fruits provide us with potassium, but certain fruits are rich in potassium and can be eaten on a regular basis to help prevent potassium deficiency. We have listed a few potassium-rich fruits below:
- Tomatoes, tomato juice
- Raisins and dates9
If you want the fruits to be effective in lowering your blood pressure, cut down the intake of salt that you eat.2 Limit the intake of packaged and processed foods, which are a major source of sodium.10
Knowledge is in understanding how fruits lower blood pressure, but wisdom is in making a habit of eating fruits regularly to help keep your blood pressure in check.
- Better Health Channel. Fruit and vegetables [Internet]. [updated 2011 Sep; cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fruit-and-vegetables.
- Blood Pressure UK. Potassium rich fruits help to lower blood pressure [Internet]. [cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/salt/Home/Howtoeatmorepotassium/Fruit.
- Familydoctor.org. High blood pressure [Internet]. [updated 2017 Oct 27; cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: https://familydoctor.org/condition/high-blood-pressure/.
- Heart Foundation. Managing high blood pressure [Internet]. [cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/wellbeing/managing-risk/managing-high-blood-pressure.
- Blood Pressure UK. Why potassium helps to lower blood pressure [Internet]. [cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/salt/Home/Whypotassiumhelps.
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The role of potassium and sodium in your diet [Internet]. [updated 2018 Jun 29; cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/salt/potassium.htm.
- Blood Pressure UK. How fruits and vegetables help to lower your blood pressure [Internet]. [cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/AfricanCaribbean/Home/Healthyeating/Fruitandveg.
- CardioSmart. Healthy eating: The DASH diet [Internet]. [cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.cardiosmart.org/~/media/Documents/Fact%20Sheets/en/zx1344.ashx.
- American Heart Association. How potassium can help control high blood pressure [Internet]. [updated 2016 Oct 31; cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/how-potassium-can-help-control-high-blood-pressure.
- AARP. Potassium: The secret weapon for lower blood pressure [Internet]. [updated 2018 Feb 27; cited 2019 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/blood-pressure-potassium-fd.html.