Does Fiber Lower High Blood Pressure? What to Eat to Reduce Hypertension
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is just one of many factors that contribute to the leading cause of death in the United States. Like it or not, what you eat does make a difference. But adding certain foods to your diet you may not be used to eating could change things for the better.
The best diet to reduce high blood pressure happens to contain plenty of foods high in fiber. Here’s why that matters.
Why is fiber important?
Basically, fiber helps you poop. If you tend to stick to a diet high in processed foods and low in plant-based foods, you’re more likely to have digestive issues — including increased hunger.
You get fiber from plants, because there are parts of those foods your body technically can’t digest. It therefore moves those parts through your digestive system to be eliminated, taking other things with it along the way.
Studies have shown that eating sufficient amounts of fiber daily can help reduce and prevent high blood pressure. Researchers aren’t completely sure why this happens, but it likely has something to do with fiber’s role in weight and blood sugar control, among other factors.
People who consume the recommended amount of daily fiber also experience lower cholesterol, normal bowel movements, overall bowel health, and lower blood sugar. It’s also more likely you’ll be able to reach and maintain a healthy weight if you consistently eat enough high-fiber foods.
Experts recommend consuming:
- 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume in a day
- 25 grams of fiber for women between 18 and 50; 21 grams for those over 50
- 30 to 38 grams of fiber for men.
Technically, there are two ways to consume fiber: through fiber pills and through food. Let’s take a closer look at each and see how they can help people with high blood pressure lower their numbers.
Can you take a fiber supplement with high blood pressure?
You can get fiber supplements online or in-store, and there are different types. You can take a pill or add a powder to your food when cooking it. Which supplement you choose really depends on your doctor’s recommendations and the reason you want to take it.
Older studies found that fiber supplementation can help control blood pressure. So as long as you talk to your doctor and know which supplement to take, how much and how often, you should be able to use a fiber pill or other type of supplement to increase your intake.
You should always talk with your doctor about any supplements you’re thinking about taking in case they might interfere with any medications you’ve been prescribed for other health issues.
Still, high-fiber foods will always be the safest and most reliable ways to get your recommended fiber every day. Supplements aren’t regulated closely by the FDA — you don’t always know what’s actually in them. And in many cases, foods are a cheaper alternative with added health benefits in addition to fiber.
Learning to tolerate fruits and vegetables is good for your overall health, not just your weight or blood pressure.
Snacks for high blood pressure: Best foods for hypertension
To add more fiber to your diet with high blood pressure, you’re going to want to choose high-fiber foods that are also relatively low in sodium. Thankfully, plant foods are extremely heart-healthy because they are naturally low in both sodium and saturated fat. You just have to be careful what you eat them with.
Some of the best high-fiber snacks for people living with high blood pressure include:
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Whole grain toast with avocado
- High-fiber cereal with fresh strawberries
- Oatmeal with bananas, seeds, raisins, or other berries
- Roasted chickpeas
- Tortilla chips (watch the salt!) with homemade bean dip
- Popcorn (no salt added).
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli can also help reduce high blood pressure. Include them in your meals as often as possible.
Just make sure that when you do increase your fiber intake, don’t do so too quickly. Gradually increase how much fiber you eat from day to day — and drink plenty of fluids. Drink more water than you think you need to in order to prevent digestive issues such as constipation.