Got high blood pressure? According to the American Heart Association, almost half of Americans have it — and what’s worse, 1 in 3 individuals don’t even know it.   

Having high blood pressure can lead to a host of heart issues, including heart disease, stroke and heart attack. While there are numerous lifestyle strategies that can lower blood pressure, one of the most effective is by changing what you eat. “It’s my belief that our lifestyle impacts about 70 percent of all chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and obesity,” says Robert Graham, M.D., MPH, ABOIM, FACP, Performance Kitchen’s chief health officer and co-founder of FRESH Medicine in New York City.

Studies show that following a diet designed to lower sodium, like the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, can lower high blood pressure. As Graham notes, the DASH diet can reduce your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg. “A reduction of 10 mm Hg is equivalent, if not better, than most medications,” he says. The diet not only reduces your need for blood pressure medication but also halts the progression of hypertension, Graham adds.