Here’s a fact from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control: One in three American adults has high blood pressure — and it can be a killer. Literally. Hypertension can lead to stroke and heart disease. What can you do to protect yourself? First, know your numbers. Take your blood pressure, and if the numbers are high — that is, 120/80 or above — see your doctor. And open your kitchen pantry. Salt, which can cause high blood pressure, is hidden in many foods — from soup to spaghetti. Food Technology magazine has identified five foods that have been shown in various research studies to have a beneficial effect on lowering blood pressure.

1. Grape Seed Extract
Results from a study of 32 pre-hypertensive adults showed that a patented grape seed extract may help to lower both systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the lower number) blood pressure after just eight weeks. In another study, 36 pre-hypertensive adults were either given a drink with a placebo or grape seed extract. Those who consumed the grape seed extract had significant reductions in blood pressure, compared with those who drank the placebo.

2. Nuts
One study showed that eating 56 grams of walnuts a day reduced systolic blood pressure and did not lead to weight gain, while a second study showed that eating one serving of pistachios a day lowered systolic blood pressure.

3. Beetroot Juice
Beetroot juice contains a dietary nitrate that may help relax blood vessel walls and improve blood flow. An American Heart Association study showed that a cup of beetroot juice a day may help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

4. Dairy Foods
while additional research is still being conducted, several studies have shown that a diet with more dairy and nuts and less meat is related to a lower risk of developing hypertension and is associated with lower systolic blood pressure.

5. Raisins
Nearly 50 pre-hypertensive adults ate raisins or other snacks equal in calorie value three times a day for 12 weeks. At weeks four, eight and 12, those who ate the raisins, versus the other snacks, showed a significantly reduced systolic blood pressure.