High blood pressure and drinks: Which should you choose?

In addition to following a heart-healthy diet to manage your blood pressure, certain drinks can also play a role. But it’s not just what you drink, your hydration status is also important to keep your blood pressure under control.

If you have high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, you may have many questions about what drinks are safe to have, such as “is coffee bad for high blood pressure?” or “does alcohol raise blood pressure?” I’ll answer these questions and more in this article.

Keep reading to learn:

  • The role of hydration in regulating blood pressure.
  • What drinks may lower blood pressure and which ones to be cautious with?
  • How much of each drink you should have, according to the research.

Can Dehydration Make Blood Pressure High?

Can being dehydrated affect blood pressure? Your hydration status can absolutely affect your blood pressure positively or negatively. High blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), heart failure, heart enlargement, aortic aneurysm, and stroke. This is why keeping your blood pressure in check is paramount.

But staying hydrated is not always easy, and according to research, approximately 75% of people are chronically dehydrated. If you have high blood pressure, it is important to hydrate yourself properly without overdoing it.

When checking your blood pressure reading, it should be 120/80 mm Hg or lower.

And when it comes to hydration and blood pressure, there is a surefire relationship between blood pressure and hydration status. Most of the time, when your body is chronically dehydrated, this causes your blood pressure to rise. This is because your blood vessels constrict in response to this, causing your blood pressure to rise.

However,  in the case of acute dehydration such as in the case of frequent diarrhea or other cause of rapid fluid loss, this can lead to a rapid drop in blood pressure.   This means that if you’re dehydrated your blood pressure can either go down or go up, depending on if it’s a more chronic or acute dehydration. On the other hand, if you’re overhydrating, your blood pressure can also go up. 

Hydration needs will differ based on body size, medical conditions, prescribed medications, and exercise level, and the exact amount should be individualized by your doctor and registered dietitian-nutritionist..

What are the Best Drinks for High Blood Pressure?

1. Water

Water is one of the best drinks to stay hydrated and can help regulate blood pressure. Having adequate water intake improves blood flow and keeps your entire body hydrated. This helps prevent a hormone in the kidney called vasopressin from turning on. Vasopressin’s role is to preserve body water, and thus it can raise blood pressure when activated.

Water also makes up approximately 73% of the human heart, and therefore water is the ultimate beverage to support optimal cardiovascular function.

2. Tea

An increasing number of studies show many herbal teas can benefit blood pressure. The best teas for high blood pressure include green tea, black tea, and hibiscus tea. Oolong tea may also be beneficial, but more research is needed to confirm this. 

Many teas contain ingredients that relax blood vessels, reduce vascular inflammation, and lower oxidative stress that leads to inflammation. The ritual of drinking tea may also have a stress-reducing effect, helping lower heart rate and blood pressure. More research is needed into how much tea to have, but currently, it’s recommended to keep it in moderation at 1-2 cups per day.

3. Low-fat or fat-free milk

Drinking more low-fat and fat-free milk is associated with lower blood pressure levels. The verdict is still out as to how they may reduce blood pressure, it is thought to be due to the minerals phosphorus and calcium present. 

One 8-ounce servings of fat-free or low-fat milk a day can fit into a heart healthy diet. Whole-fat milk is not recommended, as it is higher in saturated fat which may increase the risk of heart disease.

If you choose to avoid milk, there are other food options that can substitute dairy consumption to still achieve the benefits of optimal blood pressure. Consider working with a registered dietitian who specializes in heart disease to ensure you are achieving nutrient sufficiency for optimal heart health.

4. Beet, Pomegranate, and Tomato Juice

There is also research into beet, pomegranate, and tomato juices for high blood pressure. It’s important to consume just a splash of these juices due to their high sugar content.

Beet Juice

Studies show raw beet juice can lower blood pressure as it contains nitrates. These are compounds known to reduce blood pressure by working to widen the blood vessels, improving blood flow, and allowing more oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants and can lower blood pressure, according to research. One way it may do this is by lowering levels of an enzyme that raises blood pressure called Angiotensin Converting Enzyme, or ACE.

The best results were seen from pomegranate juice with no added sugar.

Tomato Juice

Tomato juice has also been seen to lower blood pressure, with some studies recommending one cup per day for heart health. Tomatoes and tomato juice are rich in potassium, a mineral associated with lower blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health.

However, tomato juice can be high in sodium, which can actually raise your blood pressure. If you have tomato juice, be sure to look for the unsalted version.

While these juices contain blood pressure-lowering properties, they can also be high in sugar or sodium. Too much sugar increases insulin resistance, which can play a negative role in increasing blood pressure levels. Because of this, seek out 100% varieties with no added sugar, and limit your intake to a splash of juice in your water for added flavor.

Drinks to Limit for High Blood Pressure

While there are drinks that are good for your blood pressure, there are also a few you should limit or completely avoid.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol, especially red wine, is sometimes touted to be heart-healthy. But are there risks to consuming alcohol, and can alcohol cause high blood pressure?

Drinking alcohol can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and interact with blood pressure medications, rendering them less effective. If you drink alcohol too often, it can also lower your inhibitions and lead you to forget to take your medication. 

If you don’t currently drink, it’s not recommended to start. If you do drink alcohol, practice moderation and avoid binge drinking much as possible. One standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of liquor, or 5 ounces of wine.

Consult with your personalized medical team to determine what amount of alcohol is safe for you, if any.

2. Coffee

Coffee causes a temporary spike in blood pressure, and chronic consumption is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure. While some research shows moderate intake is safe, everyone has their own tolerance. It’s most important to understand your tolerance to regular coffee, so check with your registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in heart disease first.

3. Soda

Most soft drinks are loaded with added sugar, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Many also contain caffeine, which can further increase blood pressure in some people.

This also seems to be the case for diet sodas as well, with some studies showing an even higher risk for elevated blood pressure from drinking diet soda.

Since there aren’t any health benefits to consuming any type of soda, it’s best to avoid both regular and diet soda as much as possible.

4. Energy drinks

Due to the combination of caffeine and added sugar, energy drinks have also been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure by altering the heart’s electrical activity and heart rate. Certain ingredients in energy drinks such as guarana can also increase your circulating adrenaline levels, which can lead to a heightened level of anxiety and heartbeat irregularities

For all of these reasons, it’s best to stay away from them.

5. Licorice Tea 

While most teas are beneficial for blood pressure, licorice tea is one exception and should be avoided. This is because licorice tea contains an ingredient called glycyrrhizin which has been seen to lead to high blood pressure.

One case study involved an 84-year-old man who consumed licorice tea extract for 2 weeks. He was admitted to the emergency room for hypertensive urgency, a condition where your blood pressure rapidly rises to unsafe levels. 

Several other studies on licorice tea revealed similar results, and because of this, it’s recommended to completely avoid it if you have high blood pressure or are at risk for it.

Seek Support to Manage Your Blood Pressure

Keeping your blood pressure levels within a healthy range can protect your heart and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. As a cardiovascular dietitian, I help guide you toward the best diet and lifestyle to reduce your blood pressure levels, with the goal being a reduced reliance on blood pressure-lowering medications and improved quality of life.

Contact me for a free 15-minute nutrition consultation to discuss your individual needs surrounding blood pressure and heart health. Whether you’re seeking personalized guidance in a 1:1 setting or accountability in a group, I’m here to help you optimize your heart health. 

And if you are not already signed up to my email list, be sure to sign up here to receive monthly heart disease prevention guides and other heart health tips.

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