Your Guide to Eating with High Blood Pressure

Medically Reviewed By Adam Bernstein, MD, ScD
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Salt, added sugar, and red meat can raise blood pressure. A heart-healthy diet can help you maintain lower blood pressure levels. This article outlines which foods have a positive and negative impact on blood pressure. 

What are the benefits of a diet for high blood pressure?

there are different vegetables and salad leaves against a blue background
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Following a diet designed to target high blood pressure also has a positive impact on overall health. In 2021, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reviewed scientific studies from the past three decades on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. These studies indicate that this diet can lower your blood pressure and: 

What foods should you eat to lower high blood pressure?

According to the American Heart Association, following the DASH diet may be the most effective change you can make to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke if you have high blood pressure. 

The DASH diet recommends eating the following foods: 

  • legumes
  • soy products
  • green leafy vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • lean meats
  • eggs
  • fish
  • low fat dairy
  • whole grains
  • fruits rich in potassium, such as bananas and oranges 
  • monounsaturated oils, such as olive or canola oil

What foods should you avoid with high blood pressure?

The DASH diet encourages limiting foods high in sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats. 

Examples of foods that contain larger quantities of these ingredients include: 

  • processed and cured meats
  • red meats, such as beef, lamb, and pork
  • food high in saturated fat, such as cream, butter, and cheese
  • food high in added sugar, such as desserts

Reducing sodium

The sodium in salt makes your body retain water. This fluid retention causes your blood to exert more pressure against your blood vessels. This is known as high blood pressure

The American Heart Association recommends that adults limit sodium consumption to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. However, the association suggests working toward an ideal upper limit of 1,500 mg per day. 

What is a sample 7-day diet plan for high blood pressure?

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers this example of following the DASH diet for 7 days.

DayBreakfastLunchDinnerSnacks
1bran flakes with sliced banana, a slice of toast, and 1 cup of orange juicechicken salad with 2 slices of whole wheat bread, and a fruit cocktail juice pack
roast beef with fat-free gravy, green beans, a small baked potato, a small whole wheat roll, an apple, and 1 cup of low fat milk
unsalted almonds, raisins, or fat-free fruit yogurt
2instant oatmeal, a mini whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, a medium banana, and 1 cup of low fat milka chicken salad sandwich with cantaloupe chunks and 1 cup of apple juicelow sodium vegetarian spaghetti with a spinach salad, canned pears, and 0.5 cups of cooked frozen corn
unsalted almonds, dried apricots, and fat-free fruit yogurt
3bran flakes with sliced banana, a slice of toast, and 1 cup of orange juicebeef salad sandwich, 1 cup of potato salad, and a medium orangecod, brown rice, and spinach, with almonds, and a small cornbread muffin fat-free fruit yogurt, unsalted sunflower seeds, or 2 graham crackers with peanut butter
4whole wheat toast, fat-free yogurt, a peach, and 0.5 cups of grape juiceham and cheese salad sandwich with carrot stickschicken and Spanish rice, cantaloupe chunks, and 1 cup of low fat milkunsalted almonds, 1 cup of apple juice, apricots, or 1 cup of low fat milk
5whole grain oat rings cereal (Cheerios) with banana, a medium raisin bagel with 1 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cup of orange juicetuna salad with canned pineapple, a juice pack, and unsalted almondsturkey meatloaf with a small baked potato, collard greens, a whole wheat roll, and a peachfat-free fruit yogurt or unsalted sunflower seeds
6low fat granola bar, a medium banana, fat-free fruit yogurt, 1 cup of orange juice, and 1 cup of low fat milkturkey salad sandwich, steamed broccoli, and a medium orangespicy baked fish 
with rice and vegetables, a whole wheat roll, and a small cookie
unsalted peanuts, 1 cup of low fat milk, or dried apricots
7whole grain oat rings (Cheerios) with banana and
fat-free fruit yogurt
tuna salad sandwich with an apple and 1 cup of low fat milkzucchini lasagna with a spinach salad, a whole wheat roll, and 1 cup of grape juiceunsalted almonds, dried apricots, or whole wheat crackers

Which healthcare professionals can help you plan a high blood pressure diet?

An internist or cardiologist may make general diet recommendations for lowering your blood pressure. However, a registered dietician or licensed nutritionist can help design a tailored diet to fit your needs. 

Summary

Your diet and blood pressure have a connected relationship.

Certain foods can cause a blood pressure spike after you eat. Additionally, some foods can have a long-term impact on your blood pressure health.

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Medical Reviewer: Adam Bernstein, MD, ScD
Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 31
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. A week with the DASH eating plan. (n.d.). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/WeekOnDASH.pdf
  2. Diet change may make biggest impact on reducing heart risk in people with hypertension. (2022). https://newsroom.heart.org/news/diet-change-may-make-biggest-impact-on-reducing-heart-risk-in-people-with-hypertension
  3. Following the DASH eating plan. (2021). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash/following-dash
  4. How much sodium should I eat per day? (2021). https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day
  5. The science behind the DASH eating plan. (2021). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash/research
  6. Whelton, P. K., et al. (2018). 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. https://www.jacc.org/doi/10.1016/j.jacc.2017.11.006?_gl=1*1klg0t0*_ga*NDYxODM3Mzg2LjE2NjMxOTc3OTg.*_ga_2V8VW4Y237*MTY2MzE5Nzc5OC4xLjEuMTY2MzE5NzgyMi4zNi4wLjA.&_ga=2.174714282.900679984.1663197798-461837386.16631