High blood pressure is a risk factor for a number of serious medical conditions, including heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1/3 of all American adults currently have high blood pressure. Studies have shown that some simple lifestyle changes can help prevent high blood pressure and even lower blood pressure.

Lower Your Blood Pressure

The main risk factors of high blood pressure or hypertension include being overweight or obese, excess sodium in the diet, too little potassium in the diet, little to no exercise, excess alcohol intake, and stress.

Recent research found that a plant-based diet is one extremely effective way to lower your blood pressure. A study found that those who ate plant-based diets, be it pescetarian, semi-vegetarian, or vegan, had lower blood pressure than meat eaters. In a recent US News and World Report article, Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and author of the study explains how making changes to your diet can help put you on track for lower blood pressure.

Eat More Vegetables

A healthy blood pressure is 120/80. Making some simple lower your blood pressureswitches on your plate every day is a big step in the right direction to lowering your blood pressure. “Getting meat off your plate is a good idea,” says Barnard, whose study was published in Journal of the American Medical Association in February.

Taking the meat off your plate makes room for other healthier foods that aren’t high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Because plant foods are high in potassium and very low in sodium, they make the perfect food choice to lower your blood pressure. Study after study finds that Americans aren’t getting nearly the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables., so try to fill your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. According to the CDC, eating a healthy diet can help lower your blood pressure.

Enjoy the Change

Whole grains like rice, pasta, and bread are also part of a satisfying, healthy diet that can help lower your blood pressure. Legumes are also another great addition because they fill you up quickly, thanks to all the fiber, and are high in nutrients and low in sodium. Foods to avoid are those full of sodium like processed snacks, chips, frozen meals, canned foods, and those high in saturated fat like bacon, dairy products, and certain vegetable oils.

While diet plays a role in lowering blood pressure, there are other changes that can help, as well. Regular exercise, moderating alcohol intake, and not smoking can all help lower blood pressure. Stress is another risk factor of high blood pressure, and regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress.

Barnard suggests to start slow when you change your diet. Do some research into plant-based foods and find some recipes you enjoy. Read more on the benefits of a plant-based diet or find out 6 small diet changes to make now to improve your overall health.