Can eating more whole-grain foods help lower my blood pressure?

Answers from Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.

It might. Eating more whole-grain foods on a regular basis may help reduce your chance of developing high blood pressure (hypertension).

Whole grains are grains that include the entire grain kernel — they haven't had their bran and germ removed by refining. Whole-grain foods are a rich source of healthy nutrients, including fiber, potassium, magnesium and folate. Eating more whole-grain foods offers many health benefits that can work together to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure by:

  • Aiding in weight control, since whole-grain foods can make you feel full longer
  • Increasing your intake of potassium, which is linked to lower blood pressure
  • Decreasing your risk of insulin resistance
  • Reducing damage to your blood vessels

If you already have high blood pressure, eating more whole-grain foods might help lower your blood pressure and possibly reduce your need for blood pressure medication.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as part of an overall healthy diet, adults should eat at least 85 grams of whole-grain foods a day — that's about 3 ounces, or the equivalent of three slices of whole-wheat bread.

Jun. 15, 2012 See more Expert Answers