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