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The 8 Best Canned Foods for High Blood Pressure

The 8 Best Canned Foods for High Blood Pressure

Are you trying to watch your sodium intake? Most people take in far too much, and excessive consumption can increase your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. So, keeping their sodium intake in check is even more important for those with high blood pressure, which is nearly half of the adult population in the U.S.

If you have high blood pressure, it’s likely that canned goods are on your no-no list because of their bad reputation for being high in sodium. In fact, canned soups are one of the “salty six”—popular foods identified by the American Heart Association as culprits for excess dietary sodium intake. But before you write off canned goods for good (and miss out on a host of nutrient-dense and convenient staples), we’re here to reassure you that they can still be a part of a blood pressure-friendly diet

Adopting the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet has been shown to be a solid strategy for preventing and treating high blood pressure. A pillar of the DASH diet is to limit dietary sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day, which is one teaspoon of salt. Canned foods can be quite high in sodium, so look for low-sodium or no-salt-added options. Draining and rinsing canned foods can also reduce sodium by up to 41%.

Additionally, like many diets, the DASH diet emphasizes the importance of fruits and vegetables. But here’s one thing: it doesn’t specify that they must be fresh. Canned produce is still packed with the same heart-healthy nutrients. The same goes for high-quality canned proteins like fish and legumes.

In this article, we’ll review what to look for on canned food labels when shopping and the top canned foods for high blood pressure recommended by dietitians. 

1. Canned Sardines

“Canned sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, both beneficial for blood pressure. Omega 3’s help lower blood pressure by reducing inflammation, and calcium is an important mineral in the DASH diet, an eating pattern designed to lower blood pressure,” says Veronica Rouse, M.A.N., RD, CDE, owner of The Heart Dietitian. Just one (5-ounce) can of sardines provides a significant amount of heart-healthy omega-3s, along with 18 grams of protein and over 20-25% of the daily value for calcium, which is 1,300 mg. Not sure how to use canned sardines? Try them in Greek Salad with Sardines. However, since sardines can be high in sodium, we recommend enjoying one cup of this salad instead of the recommended serving size, which is 2 cups. 

2. Canned Beans

There’s a lot to love about a humble can of beans—it’s a versatile pantry staple that is budget-friendly, convenient and nutrient-dense. “Eating canned beans is a great way to help keep your blood pressure in line,” says Laura M. Ali, M.S., RDN, a culinary nutritionist based in Pittsburgh, PA and author of the cookbook MIND Diet for Two. “They are a good source of potassium, magnesium and fiber—nutrients that are important for blood pressure control. You can find a variety of low sodium options, too”. In fact, studies have linked higher intakes of legumes (like beans) with lower blood pressure.

Just a half cup of low-sodium canned black beans provides a whopping 8 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, and blood pressure-lowering micronutrients like calcium and potassium. More specifically,  calcium plays a crucial role in controlling blood flow by regulating the narrowing and widening of blood vessels. 

Choosing the low-sodium option provides about half the sodium in a typical can of black beans. Enjoy this beautiful One-Pot White Bean, Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo with Lemon & Feta while protecting your heart. 

3. Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a versatile pantry staple that can be used in many dishes, from pasta to soup and sauces. They are also loaded with heart-healthy benefits. A half-cup serving of canned crushed tomatoes with no added salt is not only low in sodium but provides 10% of the daily value for potassium. 

Potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium by promoting its elimination through urine and by relaxing blood vessel walls. Additionally, canned tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a heart-healthy antioxidant, since it helps prevent cardiovascular disease. For a delicious heart-healthy dinner using canned tomatoes, make this Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage.

4. Canned Tuna

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults eat 8 ounces of seafood weekly. However, many Americans don’t eat enough. No-salt-added canned tuna is one of our go-to picks; it’s budget-friendly, versatile and packed with omega-3s which can lower blood pressure. In fact, a review that included almost 5,000 participants found that just 2 grams of omega-3s daily significantly lower blood pressure. A 3-ounce portion of canned tuna not only provides 22 grams of high-quality protein, but it’s also a good source of calcium and potassium. Need some inspiration? Give this Pasta, Tuna & Roasted Pepper Salad a try. 

5. Canned Pumpkin

Next time you shop for pantry staples, add a can of potassium-rich pumpkin to your cart. “Incorporating more potassium-rich foods like canned pumpkin can help balance out the negative side effects of salt on your blood pressure,” says Rouse. A one-cup serving of canned pumpkin with no added salt ahs around 11% of the daily value for potassium, which is 4,700 mg. “Canned pumpkin is not just for pumpkin pie. I use it all year round in overnight oats, pumpkin oatmeal, and my kids love pumpkin muffins.” These Healthy Pumpkin Muffins are perfect for a heart-healthy breakfast on the go or a sweet midday snack. 

6. Canned Pineapple

Fresh pineapple isn’t always readily available throughout the year, so canned pineapple packed in juice is a reliable alternative. Not only is this popular tropical fruit delicious, but it may also lower your blood pressure. A one-cup serving of cubed pineapple has over 2 grams of fiber and is a good source of potassium. Fiber has been associated with helping reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Enjoy a slice of this moisty Pineapple Coffee Cake with your next cup of coffee. But we suggest keeping it small since it has more sodium than we recommend for a heart-healthy dessert

7. Canned Spinach

Canned spinach may not be as popular as fresh and frozen, but we think Popeye may have been on to something. Canned spinach contains a host of health-promoting nutrients, including ones that can lower blood pressure. One cup of canned spinach has over 5 grams of fiber and blood pressure-friendly potassium, magnesium and calcium. Green leafy vegetables like spinach also contain nitrates, which help blood vessels relax, lowering blood pressure. In fact, a study found that those who consumed at least 1 cup of leafy greens per day had lower blood pressure and a lower overall risk of heart disease.

8. Canned Beets

“Bright red and full of antioxidants, canned beets are an excellent choice for helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure,” says Ali. “They contain a variety of heart-healthy nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B vitamins. In addition, their beautiful red color comes from plant compounds called phytonutrients, including one called betalains—a nutrient that has been shown to help reduce inflammation and may contribute to lowering blood pressure”. Like spinach, beets are also naturally rich in nitrates, which Ali says may help lower blood pressure and decrease heart risk.17 Just be sure to double-check the label since some canned beets have added sugar or salt. Use them in this Charred Onions & Beets with Creamy Feta Dressing recipe. Like other recipes above, this has a bit more sodium and saturated fat than we would recommend, so be mindful of the portion size.

The Bottom Line

Canned foods are known to be higher in sodium. And if you’re trying to limit their sodium intake to manage high blood pressure, you may have been avoiding them. But don’t toss them out yet! Canned foods still have a lot to offer, including other blood pressure-friendly nutrients like fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium and omega-3s. Use this list to stock your pantry with staples that will make it much easier to plan heart-healthy meals to manage your blood pressure. 

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