Diet modifications to help control blood pressure

Diet Modifications to Help Control Blood Pressure

by Amanda Lively, FNP-C


How can I help control my blood pressure?

Multiple factors can affect your blood pressure, so there are multiple changes you can make to help control it. One of the easiest ways to help control your blood pressure is through diet changes, such as limiting salt, caffeine, and alcohol and eating lean meats and vegetables/fruits.

  • The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming no more than 1500 milligrams (mg) of salt in a day. Salt is found in many processed, prepackaged, and fast foods such as frozen pizza, frozen dinners, canned vegetables/fruits, and deli meats. The amount of salt in these foods can be found on the nutritional label under sodium.
  • Do not forget about the salt you add to your food, ¼ teaspoon has 575 mg of sodium! Mrs. Dash is a brand of seasonings that can add flavor but is low in sodium.
  • AHA recommends the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet which includes fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread/rice/pasta, low fat milk/yogurt/cheese, chicken, fish, nuts, legumes, and low-fat vegetable oils. You can still have red meat but limit it to once a week.
  • Eating fresh produce and meat is best but cost can always be a limiting factor. Frozen vegetables and fruits have less sodium than canned vegetables and fruits, and they can be more cost effective than fresh produce. You can always compare the nutritional labels to see which has less sodium.
  • These diet changes can lead to weight loss. With five pounds of weight loss, you can lower your blood pressure by 5-10 points!
  • Caffeine is a stimulant which can increase blood pressure and limiting your caffeine intake to two cups of coffee a day will help keep blood pressure under control. Caffeine can be in supplements and over the counter medications such as pre-workout powders and Excedrin so these need to be limited as well.
  • Drinking two or more alcoholic drinks can increase your risk of high blood pressure. A drink is considered five ounces of wine, twelve ounces of beer, or one ounce of liquor; you can still enjoy a drink, but moderation is key.
  • All these lifestyle modifications will help control your blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart disease.

Helpful Links:

Healthy Recipes from the American Heart Association

Dash Diet Resources


High Blood Pressure: Are You at Risk?

by Amanda Lively, FNP-C


High blood pressure, known as hypertension, affects more than half of American adults. High blood pressure or hypertension increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Due to these risks, it is important to keep your blood pressure controlled.

How To Take Your Blood Pressure:

How To Take Your Blood Pressure by Gagon Family Medicine

Track your blood pressure at home with a properly calibrated blood pressure machine. You can get one over the counter at most pharmacies. Before you take your blood pressure remember to:

  • Have the right size cuff for your arm
  • Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes
  • Have your feet flat on the floor and your back supported
  • Do not smoke, drink caffeine, or exercise 30 minutes beforehand
  • Have the cuff above the bend of your arm and at the same level as your heart

You should check your blood pressure in the morning and evening and always keep a log so you can share it with your provider. If your blood pressure is higher than 130/80 it is uncontrolled, and you should make an appointment to see your primary care provider. Your primary care provider can help you control your blood pressure with medication and/or lifestyle changes.