Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?

It might. Regularly eating more whole-grain foods might lower the risk of high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

Whole grains include the entire grain kernel. They haven't had their bran and germ removed by refining. Whole-grain foods are rich in healthy nutrients, such as:

  • Fiber.
  • Potassium.
  • Magnesium.
  • Folate.
  • Iron.
  • Selenium.

Eating more whole-grain foods offers many health benefits. It can:

  • Help manage weight, since whole-grain foods have fiber, which can make you feel full longer.
  • Increase potassium, which may help lower blood pressure.
  • Decrease the risk of insulin resistance.
  • Reduce damage to blood vessels.

Together, these heart-healthy benefits can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, eating more whole-grain foods might help lower your blood pressure.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet both include whole grains as part of a healthy diet.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should eat at least 3 ounces (85 grams) or more of whole grains a day. That's about three slices of whole-wheat bread.

One ounce (28 grams) of grains equals:

  • 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta.
  • One medium slice of bread or one medium tortilla or flatbread.
  • 1 cup of flaked whole-grain cereal.

The guidelines also recommend that at least half of all grains you eat be 100% whole grain.

Examples of whole-grain foods are:

  • Barley (not pearled).
  • Dark rye bread.
  • Millet.
  • Oats.
  • Popcorn.
  • Quinoa.
  • Whole-grain cereals and crackers.
  • Whole-grain cornmeal.
  • Whole-wheat bread.
  • Wild rice.

Check with your healthcare professional before starting any new diet or exercise program. If you need help choosing the best foods for your needs, talk with your care team.

Last Updated May 23, 2024

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