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

Answer From Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.

It might. Eating more whole-grain foods on a regular basis might 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, folate, iron and selenium. 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.

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

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.

Feb. 22, 2018