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The best way to lower your blood pressure via food is to consume a lower sodium diet. Most Americans consume 2-3 times the recommended sodium intake daily. Focus on fresh foods and less packaged foods. The recommendation for sodium for most people is less than 2,400 mg sodium daily (this is about a teaspoon of salt per day!). Where we find the majority of sodium in our diets come from pre-packaged foods such as: canned foods, frozen dinners, deli meats, seasoning packets, canned soups and from dining out. Try preparing the majority of your meals at home and ditch the salt shaker!
Try working up to eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The other thing you can do to potentially see big results is eat a lot less sodium.
One of the best diets to help you to lower your blood pressure is called the DASH Diet. Specifically you want to eat foods rich in potassium like vegetables, fruits, fish, beans, and low-fat dairy like milk and yogurt. Avoid high sodium foods like soups, processed meats, pizza, and many restaurant dishes that are typically salted for flavor.
Foods you can eat to lower blood pressure include healthy sources of potassium like spinach and bananas, as well as calcium, like low-fat dairy products. Watch nutritionist Janet Brill, PhD/RD, share her favorite foods for those with hypertension.
When it comes to blood pressure the better question to ask is “What shouldn’t I eat?” Sodium (or salt) is the main culprit in your diet when it comes to blood pressure. Being overweight or obese, and having a high stress level also have a role in blood pressure. But when it comes to food, the main things you need to be aware of sodium content. Almost all foods have sodium, but there are some that are particularly high such as jarred or canned foods, cured meats, cheese, pickled foods, saltwater crab and fishes, soy sauce, and of course table salt.
If you have high blood pressure, you should increase the amount of potassium, calcium and magnesium in your diet. Tomatoes, oranges and fish are rich in potassium. Milk and cheese contain calcium. If you have cholesterol issues, you can get your calcium from supplements. Magnesium is found in greens, hazelnuts, peas and beans. Lots of fruit and vegetables and little fat is the best diet for a high blood pressure patient. Omega-3, which you can get from cod-liver oil or supplements, also reduces blood pressure. Studies have shown that dark chocolate also has blood pressure-reducing effects. After these diet changes, if your blood pressure is still high, medication may be necessary.
Consuming less sodium can help lower blood pressure. The majority of our sodium intake comes from the foods that we eat (75%) versus the sodium we get from the salt shaker (25%). Start by reading food labels (especially on processed foods) and aim to reduce your intake to 2,300 mg. If you already have high blood pressure, a good goal would even be 1,500 mg per day. Also, if you are overweight or obese, weight loss can help to lower blood pressure.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and some healthy fat is the best diet to lower blood pressure. Limit sodium intake to under 2000 mg. per day. Cocoa has been shown to contain flavonoids that can help keep blood pressure stable.
A healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods can lower your blood pressure and promote overall heart health.
Reduce sodium in your diet can also help. Limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. A lower sodium level of 1,500 mg a day or less is best for people 51 years of age or older, and individuals of any age who have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet emphasizes vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy foods — and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
Improving your diet and exercising regularly is the best treatment option to control high blood pressure -- in addition to any prescribed medication.
If you have high blood pressure, you should limit sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day. To achieve this goal you’ll have to cut way back on packaged foods and most restaurant meals. But lowering blood pressure with diet goes way beyond just limiting the sodium you eat. In fact, there are several foods you can add to your diet that help lower blood pressure. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Sweet potatoes, lima beans, spinach and oranges and bananas are especially high in potassium, which naturally lowers blood pressure.
These recommendations and more are part of the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) diet which has been shown to lower blood pressure. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods.
Processed foods are the biggest sources of sodium in our diets. While losing excess weight and cutting back on dietary sodium can have a dramatic impact on lowering high blood pressure, there are also certain foods that you can eat that may also help.
The following advice may help you eat to beat high blood pressure:
Pump up the Potassium-Rich Foods in Your Diet: A diet adequate in potassium lowers blood pressure by causing the kidneys to excrete excess sodium from the body. Ridding the body of sodium will help lower blood pressure. Potatoes, orange juice, yogurt, bananas, and beans are all potassium powerhouses.
Eat at Least 4.5 cups of Fruits and Veggies Daily: Mother Nature's finest are naturally low in sodium and rich in potassium, making them a dynamic duo. Because fruits and veggies are also rich in fiber and water, they will "fill you up before they fill you out" and help cut back on the calories typically eaten at a meal. Cutting calories in your diet can reduce pounds around your waist. If overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can reduce a person's blood pressure and may actually prevent high blood pressure in many folks even if they haven't yet reached a healthy weight. Devote half of your plate at every meal to fruits and vegetables otherwise you'll never reach the 4.5 cup minimum quota daily. Have a piece of fruit at breakfast, load your lunchtime sandwich with layers of tomatoes and lettuce, and accompany it with a side salad. Grab a seasonal apple (this is the sweet season) for dessert. At dinner, beef up the veggies that you make. If fresh veggies are not available, reach into the freezer for easy-to-prepare, plain frozen vegetables.
Pass the Milk, Please: Low fat and skim milk, as well as soymilk, are not only rich in potassium but also calcium and magnesium, other minerals that can help lower blood pressure. Start your day with a bowl of whole grain cereal smothered in skim or low fat milk or soymilk. Cook your hot oatmeal with milk rather than water, and order your morning latte with low fat milk rather than cream.
If you or someone in your family has high blood pressure or risk factors for high blood pressure, you may need to reduce the salt and fat in your cooking to help control the disease. Why?
- Too much salt in your diet makes your body hold on to more water, which raises your blood pressure and puts strain on your heart and kidneys.
- A diet high in harmful fats can play a role in developing heart disease or raising blood pressure.
- Sure, it matters what you eat -- but too much food of any kind can cause you to gain weight, which can also lead to higher blood pressure.
Consider the following dos and don'ts when it comes to blood pressure:
- Do: Potassium. In your body, too much sodium raises your blood pressure, but potassium balances out the extra salt. Where can you get potassium? Plain baked potatoes, for starters. Also try bananas, avocados, dried apricots, plain yogurt, raw spinach and cooked white beans.
- Don't: Sodium. Salt shows up where you don't expect it. Nearly half of the sodium we consume comes from 10 food categories: bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta mixed dishes, meat mixed dishes and savory snacks.
- Don't: Harmful fats. Full flavor without all the fat is possible. Saturated and trans fats are two types of dangerous fats found in many commercial baked goods (think cookies and crackers) and animal products (red meat and dairy products like whole milk, cheese, sour cream, butter and ice cream).
Start reading the labels to track your nutrients and pay special attention to parts of the diet that can get your blood pressure out of whack. Learn your limits:
- Sodium: 1,500 milligrams (mg) daily for those with high blood pressure (2,300 mg for others)
- Potassium: 4,700 mg a day of potassium
- Saturated fats: less than 10% of your daily calories
- Trans fats: as low as possible
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.