Eat This Popular Fruit To Lower High Blood Pressure

Over 40% of women and more than 50% of men around the world are unaware that they're carrying around the "silent killer" known as high blood pressure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A blood pressure reading of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) or below is considered healthy, reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). People with high blood pressure — medically referred to as "hypertension" — are those with a blood pressure reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher. Depending on how much higher, a person with hypertension may fall within the category of stage 1, stage 2, or a hypertensive crisis.

Untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and more. Medication treatment options are available, although doctors may first suggest changing some of our dietary habits. Eating more leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and lean meats is a great place to start, but there's one popular fruit you don't want to leave out. Across the U.S., the average person eats approximately 27 pounds of this fruit per year (per Mayo Clinic). It's the banana.

The role of potassium in lowering blood pressure

Salt is often to blame when it comes to high blood pressure. But maintaining a low salt intake is anything but easy when it can often be found lurking in everything from frozen foods to cereals, canned goods, cheeses, and more. This is where our good friend the banana comes in.

Just one banana (126 grams) contains 451 milligrams of potassium, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Researchers from a longitudinal 2022 study published in the European Heart Journal explain that potassium helps clear out sodium from the body through urination. Using survey data, blood pressure measurements, and urine samples from 24,963 middle-aged and older adults in the U.K., the study team found that women with a high sodium intake experienced a 2.4 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) per every 1 gram (1,000 milligrams) increase of potassium consumed each day. Between both men and women, those who consumed the greatest amounts of potassium were 13% less susceptible to cardiovascular events than participants who consumed the lowest amounts of potassium. The researchers ultimately concluded that eating bananas, along with other potassium-rich foods, may help mitigate health risks associated with high salt consumption in women.

Eating bananas may help lower blood pressure

When looking at bananas specifically, researchers from a 2022 study published in Natural Product Communications examined the effects of dried and milled banana powder on the blood pressure and blood sugar levels of rats with diabetes and hypertension. The bananas were prepared by sitting out in the sun for approximately three days before spending 24 hours in an oven and then being ground into a powder. Drops in blood pressure as well as heart rate were observed in the rats during the fourth week of the experiment, demonstrating the banana's efficacy in lowering high blood pressure levels.

While more research is needed, snacking on a banana on a semi-regular basis may be a delicious way to help lower high blood pressure. Other measures you can take include keeping salt intake to a minimum, refraining from smoking, lowering alcohol consumption, and getting plenty of routine exercise. If your doctor has prescribed any blood pressure-lowering medications, be sure to take them as directed.