Rows of bananas against a light blue background.
Due to the high levels of potassium in bananas, these are one of the best foods to eat with high blood pressure and diabetes, as the potassium naturally controls the effects of sodium that can lead to high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure and Diabetes Diet

Research shows that those with diabetes are two times more likely to have high blood pressure (hypertension) compared to those without diabetes. A person with both hypertension and diabetes is four times more likely to develop heart disease compared to those without either condition. This is why we are going to outline a high blood pressure and diabetes diet.

What is the Relationship Between High Blood Pressure and Diabetes?

Little is known about the relationship between hypertension and diabetes. However, it is likely related to other comorbidities and habits that tend to occur with diabetes, such as:

  • Obesity.
  • Chronic inflammation.
  • Inactivity.
  • A diet high in sodium and fat.

High blood pressure is caused when the blood is pumping through the heart with too much force; this can eventually cause damage to the muscles of the heart, as well as cause the heart to become enlarged.

What Are the Risks?

Unmanaged hypertension can be lethal. Unmanaged diabetes can also be lethal. If they are combined, they can cause a myriad of comorbidities.

Having both diabetes and hypertension increases the risk of diabetes-related complications, such as diabetic kidney disease (nephropathy) and diabetic eye disease (retinopathy). Unfortunately, retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

In addition, hypertension can lead to vascular changes in the brain, eventually causing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These changes can also increase the likelihood of a stroke.

Having uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk of hypertension; however, there are other risk factors as well:

  • Family history of heart disease.
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia).
  • High fat and sodium diet.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Obesity.
  • Advancing age.
  • Being a smoker.

6 Foods That Help Reduce Blood Pressure in Those With Diabetes

Though consuming certain foods cannot resolve hypertension, some foods can improve the condition significantly.

1. Bananas

Bananas may have a fair amount of carbohydrates, but they also are rich in potassium. Potassium is a key element in regulating blood pressure levels.

According to Lauren Elkins, RD and nutrition director at Marina Del Rey Hospital in Marina Del Rey, CA, “Potassium naturally reduces the effects of sodium, helping to control blood pressure.”

You can also find potassium in other foods, such as:

  • Cantaloupe.
  • Broccoli.
  • Lentils.
  • Potatoes.
  • Carrots.
  • Bran flakes.
  • Nuts.
  • Whole wheat bread.

2. Coffee

Coffee may get a bad reputation, but it isn’t all awful. Those with hypertension should indeed limit their coffee to 200 milligrams (about 2 cups) per day. This is because excess coffee can increase blood pressure. However, drinking coffee in moderation is fine, unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.

If you choose to drink coffee, it is wise to drink coffee filtered through a paper filter, rather than espresso or a French press. Filtered coffee removes most of the oily compounds, which can increase cholesterol. In addition, making the switch to decaf coffee may reduce blood sugar levels.

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3. Healthy Fats

Saturated fats, such as chicken with the skin, butter and cheese, can impact blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels, ultimately increasing the risk of heart disease. So can trans fats, such as the fat found in packaged baked goods and fried foods.

When selecting fats, choosing fat found in plants can improve your heart health. Examples include flaxseed, nuts, avocadoes and olive oil.

4. Whole Grains

When you pick up a loaf of bread, what is the first item listed under the ingredients? Does it have the word “whole?”

A good bread selection should say “whole grain” or “whole wheat,” indicating that the bread is made from an entire grain, as opposed to refined ingredients.

Whole grains are not limited to bread; opt for grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and barley. These types of foods are rich in dietary fiber, which can minimize blood sugar fluctuations.

5. Protein

Consuming protein is a great way to keep blood sugar levels stable. It can also help with weight management, which often helps to reduce the strain on the heart.

When selecting a protein, opt for lean cuts of meats, such as chicken, turkey and sirloin. For those who avoid meats, search for plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and soy-based products.

6. Vegetables

It is common knowledge that vegetables are good for us; they are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and fiber – all of which have a positive effect on our health.

Vegetables are either starchy or non-starchy; starchy vegetables are known to be rich in carbohydrates, so they can still be eaten in moderation. Non-starchy vegetables have much fewer carbohydrates and are rich in fiber.

Examples of starchy vegetables:

  • Potatoes.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Corn.
  • Pumpkin.
  • Peas.

Examples of non-starchy vegetables:

  • Tomatoes.
  • Cucumbers.
  • Lettuce.
  • Broccoli.
  • Cauliflower.

The Bottom Line

If you have diabetes and hypertension, care should be taken to keep blood sugar and blood pressure levels at recommended levels. There are a variety of food options that can improve both blood pressure and blood sugar.