Did you know that simply by eating more of some foods and less of others, you can lower your blood pressure? As an added bonus, following these tips can also help with weight management and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other diseases.
Vegetables and fruit: Eat different kinds of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors.
Potassium-rich foods: Good sources include broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially their skins), sweet potatoes, winter squash, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, bananas, kiwi, prunes, dried apricots, milk, yogurt, and nuts. Talk to your doctor before increasing your potassium intake, especially if you have kidney disease.
High-fiber foods: Fiber is found in beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try split peas, lentils, whole-grain cereals, oats, bran, brown rice, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, which may all help to lower blood pressure. If a high-fiber diet is new to you, increase the amount of high-fiber foods you eat a little at a time to avoid stomach distress.
Foods high in magnesium: Good sources include dark green or leafy vegetables, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, almonds, cashews, peas, beans, soy products (soy flour and tofu), brown rice, and millet.
Calcium-rich foods: Good sources include low-fat or fat-free milk, buttermilk, cheese, and yogurt; dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, and Chinese cabbage; and salmon and canned sardines with bones. Calcium is often added to orange juice, soy milk, tofu, cereals, and breads.
Foods high in sodium: Eating too much sodium can raise blood pressure. Limit daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day, or to 1,500 mg per day if you are 51 years of age or older, African American, or you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease. Look for sodium content on nutrition labels: a 5% daily value (DV) or less of sodium per serving is considered low sodium. For more information on choosing low-sodium foods, see these tips
Saturated fats and trans fats: Foods high in saturated fat include hard cheeses, whole milk, cream, ice cream, butter, and fatty meats. Instead, choose lean protein foods: tofu, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and fat-free or 1% fat dairy products. Avoid fried foods, processed or packaged foods, or commercially prepared baked goods (cookies, doughnuts, crackers), which can be high in saturated and trans fats. Avoid foods with the words “hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" on food labels; this means the food contains a high amount of saturated or trans fats.
Look for the American Heart Association (AHA) “heart-check” mark: This symbol on food packaging means the product meets the AHA’s criteria for saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium for a single serving of the food product for healthy people over age 2. Create your own “heart-check” grocery list.
Learn about the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension) eating plan: This plan is designed to stop or prevent high blood pressure. It emphasizes eating foods that are low in sodium, saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol. The DASH diet is also rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. It includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and has low amounts of red meats, sweets, and sugared beverages.
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regimen.
Calcium in Diet, Medline Plus:
High Blood Pressure and Diet, Medline Plus, National Institutes of Health:
Magnesium in Diet, Medline Plus:
Managing Blood Pressure with a Heart Healthy Diet, American Heart Association (AHA):
Potassium in Diet, Medline Plus:
Sodium in Your Diet: Using the Nutrition Facts Label to Reduce Your Intake, U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Department of Agriculture:
What is the DASH Eating Plan?, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:
Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.