Recommended Diet to Lower High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, your diet should contain (1):
- Less than 1.5 g of salt (NaCl) and sodium (Na) per day
- About 4.7 g of potassium (K) per day
- Low amount of cholesterol and saturated fats (your doctor should tell exact amount)
- No more than 2 drinks of alcohol per day (your doctor should tell)
Foods to AVOID in High Blood Pressure
1. Salt and Sodium
Reducing sodium (Na) and salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in your diet can lower blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, aim to limit salt intake to 1.5 g/day. You can achieve this by avoiding salty foods, especially commercial (packaged, tinned) foods, not adding salt during cooking and at the table.
The following foods usually contain various amount of sodium or salt:
- Dairy products
- Meat, especially smoked meat and meat used in fast food
- Fish, especially canned fish
- Bread and most other baked products contain salt or baking powder or baking soda
- Sauces, like soy sauce, steak sauce, salad dressings, catsup, mustard
- Salted snacks, like chips, peanuts, crackers, pretzels
- Pickled food: herring, pickles, relish, olives, sauerkraut
- Ready to eat cereals
- Pre-prepared, ready-to-eat, instant and some frozen foods: soups, pies, pizza, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and so on.
- Drinks: saccharin-flavored soda, club soda, sport drinks, certain types of mineral water
- Food additives: monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate, nitrite, hydroxide, sulfate, proprionate
Excessive alcohol drinking raises blood pressure, so limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink (women) or two drinks (men)per day (2). A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.
Caffeine may cause spikes of high blood pressure. To find out this, measure blood pressure 45 minutes after caffeine consumption (3).
4. Foods That Raise Blood Cholesterol
If you have raised levels of total cholesterol (>200 mg/dL) or LDL cholesterol (>100 mg/ dL) in the blood, you should limit intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, mainly found in meat, whole milk dairy products and egg yolk. Check cholesterol lowering diet. High blood cholesterol is a strong risk factor for atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
Foods That Can Lower High Blood Pressure
Regular intake of foods high in potassium (K) can lower blood pressure. Recommended intake of potassium is 4.7 g/day (1). Good dietary sources of potassium that should not cause bloating or gas are (1):
- Beets, boiled
- Brussel sprouts
- Celery, raw
- Collard greens
- Eggplant, cooked
- Fennel, raw
- Kale, boiled
- Mustard greens
- Potatoes, baked or steamed
- Romaine lettuce
- Spinach, boiled
- Summer squash
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
- Winter squash
- Grapefruit /juice
- Orange / juice
- Almonds, walnuts (also contain healthy unsaturated fatty acids)
NOTE: Meat and dairy products are usually high in sodium, so they are not good sources of potassium in patients with high blood pressure.
WARNING:Potassium salt (KCl) is not appropriate source of potassium, since it can result in life dangareous hyperkalemia (5).
Points to Remember
- Above mentioned diet is only one measure to control high blood pressure. Losing weight (if necessary) is another one. Enjoy in observing which foods make you feel better.
- Sticking with work and relationships that bring joy and peace into your heart and getting rid of things that disturb this peace can greatly help in reducing your blood pressure.
- Recommended amount of salt and potassium in high blood pressure (health.gov)
- Excessive drinking can raise blood pressure (americanheart.org)
- Caffeine and blood pressure (americanheart.org)
- Good sources of potassium (whfoods.com)
- Potassium may lower blood pressure (americanheart.org)
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on December 4, 2011