Sodium has always been the blood pressure bogeyman—shake most of it from your high blood pressure diet and you will be safe. But research now shows that it’s just as important to choose foods naturally low in sodium and high in at least two of the three power minerals: calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
One cup of white beans provides 13% of the calcium, 30% of the magnesium, and 24% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: You can use this comfort food in side dishes, soups, and entrées. As a meatless source of protein, it’s a great choice for vegetarians. Choose no-salt added or well-rinsed low-sodium canned white beans, or cook dried beans overnight in a slow cooker.
Three ounces of pork tenderloin provide 6% of the magnesium and 15% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: Meat lovers, rejoice! This lean cut provides plenty of meaty flavor and satisfaction without the overload of saturated fat found in fattier types of beef and pork. Cook larger tenderloins (or do several on the grill or in the oven) and store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer for fast weeknight meals.
Fat-free plain yogurt
One cup of fat-free plain yogurt provides 49% of the calcium, 12% of the magnesium, and 18% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: Cool and creamy, yogurt is a star ingredient in mineral-rich breakfasts, in sauces and salad dressings, and even in entrées. Most brands of regular yogurt tend to be a bit higher in calcium than Greek varieties. You can control the fat and nutrient content by making your own yogurt at home for your high blood pressure diet.
Four ounces of tilapia provides 8% of the magnesium and 8% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: This mild white fish is available year-round in supermarkets and fish stores, fresh or as frozen fillets. You can roast it, bake it, and sauté it, flavor it with a variety of seasonings, and even top it with mineral-rich kiwi-avocado salsa. Tilapia is extremely low in environmental toxins like mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and it is considered a sustainable, environmentally friendly choice.
Peaches and nectarines
One medium peach or nectarine provides 1% of the calcium, 3% of the magnesium, and 8% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: Frozen unsweetened peach slices are a great alternative to fresh peaches and nectarines on a high blood pressure diet. Just defrost ahead of time or, for smoothies, simply toss in the blender.
One medium banana provides 1% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium, and 12% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: No need to toss soft bananas when the skin turns brown. Peel, bag, and freeze for use in smoothies.
One cup of kale, raw or cooked, provides 9% of the calcium, 6% of the magnesium, and 9% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: Low in calories, kale is widely considered a superfood because it contains a big dose of cell-protecting antioxidants as well as alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based good fat that cools inflammation. Thin, delicate baby kale leaves are a great alternative for salads.
Red bell pepper
One cup of raw red bell pepper provides 1% of the calcium, 4% of the magnesium, and 9% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: Red bell peppers keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Store wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel so they don’t dry out. You can freeze extras to use later in cooked dishes.
One cup of cooked broccoli provides 6% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium, and 14% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: This cruciferous veggie is also a famous source of cancer-fighting phytonutrients called glucosinolates. You can substitute frozen broccoli in many cooked entrées and side dishes.
One medium sweet potato with the skin provides 4% of the calcium, 8% of the magnesium (7% without the skin), and 15% of the potassium (10% without the skin) you need every day.
Tip: So sweet it could be a dessert, sweet potatoes are a great addition to smoothies. Bake several sweet potatoes at one time so you’ll have a ready supply for quick smoothies and other recipes.
One-half of an avocado provides 1% of the calcium, 5% of the magnesium, and 10% of the potassium you need every day.
Tip: In addition to pressure-soothing minerals and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados contain health-promoting carotenoids. Peel carefully; the dark green flesh just under an avocado’s brittle skin contains large amounts of these disease-fighting compounds.