Food for High Blood Pressure: What to Eat & What to Avoid?

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Foods for high blood pressure hypertension
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“You are what you eat”; you may have heard this line before. Your diet is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health. And so, choosing the right food for high blood pressure can help you improve your condition and lower the risk of heart disease. This article will tell you more about food to reduce blood pressure naturally.

Contents:
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    How Does Diet Affect Your Blood Pressure Levels?
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    What is the DASH Diet or High BP Diet?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    15 Best Foods for High Blood Pressure
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Foods You Should Avoid When You Have High Blood Pressure
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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How Does Diet Affect Your Blood Pressure Levels?

The macro and micronutrients, minerals, vitamins and other components of your diet affect various aspects and functions of your body. Your body’s sodium and water levels can influence the hormones that regulate your blood pressure and vice versa. Eating food with high fat content can lead to narrow and clogged arteries, which contribute to raised blood pressure. Additionally, overeating can increase your weight, which can be a factor in elevated blood pressure levels.

What is the DASH Diet or High BP Diet?

The DASH diet or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a healthy and balanced diet plan endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) to treat or prevent hypertension. It focuses on eating foods that are rich in nutrients that help lower your blood pressure levels like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It also focuses on cutting down on foods that may negatively affect your heart health, like excess sodium, added sugars, and saturated or trans fats. The DASH diet specifies the number of servings of foods you can eat to improve your blood pressure levels and heart health. 

Food Group

Servings

Grains

6 to 8 daily

Meats, poultry, and fish

6 or fewer daily

Vegetables

4 to 5 daily

Fruit

4 to 5 daily

Low-fat or fat-free dairy products

2 to 3 daily

Fats and oils

2 to 3 daily

Sodium

1500 mg to 2300 mg daily

Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas

4 to 5 weekly 

Sweets

5 or fewer weekly

You can read more about the DASH eating plan here

15 Best Foods for High Blood Pressure

  • Berries

Fruits like blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, cherries and cranberries have a high concentration of compounds called anthocyanins. These compounds have antioxidant properties, and studies have shown that eating about half a cup of berries every day can lower your blood pressure.

  • Bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that plays a crucial role in lowering your blood pressure. Potassium helps eliminate excess sodium from your body, which reduces the tension in your blood vessels. The AHA recommends consuming about 4,700 mg of potassium every day if you have hypertension. A medium-sized banana contains about 420 to 450 mg of potassium.

Here’s a list of other potassium-rich foods you can include in your diet. 

  • Beetroot

Drinking a cup of beetroot juice daily or adding a few slices of beets to your sandwiches and salads can help control your blood pressure. Beetroots are rich in nitrates, which gets converted to nitric oxide (NO) after digestion. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, i.e. it helps to relax and open up your blood vessels which in turn lowers your blood pressure.  

  • Green Leafy Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, cabbage,  etc., are excellent sources of blood pressure-lowering substances like potassium, magnesium, nitrates and antioxidants. Including 1 to 2 servings of leafy vegetables in your diet regularly can help you maintain normal blood pressure levels.

  • Citrus Fruits

Fruits like lemons and oranges have high concentrations of flavonoids that have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants help lower your blood pressure by reducing oxidative stress and damage to your blood vessels and tissues. You can get your daily dose of citrus by drinking a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or adding some lemon juice to your water bottle every day. Alternatively, you can eat a whole orange or add it to fruit salads to get other nutritional benefits. 

  • Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, cod, etc., are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Studies show that regular consumption of 1 to 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids can cause a small but significant decrease in blood pressure.

  • Lean Meat

Meat with the fat trimmed off is a good source of protein. Protein is made up of components called amino acids like L-arginine, which is converted to nitric oxide (NO) in your body. According to the DASH diet, you can eat about 100 to 150 grams of meat, poultry and fish per day.  

  • Lentils and Legumes

Beans, pulses, lentils and legumes are great sources of magnesium, potassium, protein and fiber, all of which are essential to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Consider adding them to your diet in the form of salads, dal, curries, etc., at least 4 times a week.

  • Oats and Whole-grain Foods

Whole grains like oats and brown rice are good sources of dietary fiber, which is excellent for your heart health. Some studies have shown that eating oatmeal for breakfast can lower your blood pressure along with cholesterol levels. Having a bowl of oatmeal with some low-fat yogurt or milk for breakfast every morning can improve your blood pressure. Substitute refined flour products like pasta, bread, biscuits with whole-grain options.  

  •  Low-fat Dairy Products

Dairy products like milk and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium, magnesium and potassium, which help regulate blood pressure. Whole milk and high-fat dairy products are high in cholesterol, so include low-fat or non-fat options of milk, yogurt and cheese in your daily diet.

  •  Garlic

Garlic contains a compound called allicin which has antioxidant properties that help relax your blood vessels. It also helps in the production of nitric oxide in your body. Adding 1 to 2 cloves of garlic to your meals every day can work wonders for your blood pressure.

  •  Unsalted Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds like pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc., are treasure troves of essential micronutrients like zinc, manganese, magnesium and potassium which help control high blood pressure. However, beware of store-bought nuts and seeds as they are usually loaded with salt and sodium which could spike your blood pressure.

  •  Fermented Food

Fermented foods like yogurt, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, mozzarella, sauerkraut, etc., are good sources of probiotics or bacteria that are good for your gut health. Include a serving of these foods in your daily diet to improve blood pressure control.  

  •  Pomegranate

With high antioxidant properties, magnesium, potassium and fiber content, pomegranate is a fantastic fruit to include in your daily menu. Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice or eating a medium-sized fruit in the mornings can help lower your blood pressure. 

  •  Dark Chocolate

Eating chocolate with at least 50 to 70% cocoa content can benefit your heart health. Dark chocolate contains substances called polyphenols, which trigger the release of nitric oxide that relaxes your blood vessels. The flavonoids present in dark chocolate provide an antioxidant effect. Eating up to 25 grams of dark chocolate a day can help in blood pressure management.

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Foods You Should Avoid When You Have High Blood Pressure

  • Overly Salty Foods

Cut down on salty foods like chips, namkeen, condiments, etc., that have high amounts of sodium which can raise your blood pressure further.

  • Caffeine

Caffeinated drinks like coffee, sports drinks, sodas, etc., spike your blood pressure as caffeine constricts your blood vessels.

  • High-fat Foods

Foods that have high fat content like fast food, deep-fried food, dairy products like cream, butter, etc., can clog your arteries and make them narrower which can make your hypertension worse.

  • Alcohol

Long term consumption of alcohol or binge drinking can cause several ill effects on your health, high blood pressure being one of them. 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • The food you eat can significantly influence your blood pressure levels.
  • The American Heart Association recommends following the DASH diet to treat or prevent high blood pressure.
  • Berries, bananas, beetroot, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, fish rich in omega-3 fatty fats, lean meat, lentils, legumes, oats & other whole grains, low-fat dairy products, garlic, unsalted nuts & seeds, fermented foods, pomegranate, dark chocolate are some of the foods you can eat to lower your blood pressure.
  • Avoid foods with high-fat content, excess sodium, caffeine and alcohol if you have high blood pressure.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading cardiologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate BP monitors and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Hypertension Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat low/high blood pressure problems together.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the best drinks you should try if you have hypertension

  1. Lemon juice, orange juice, and juices of other citrus fruits
  2. Pomegranate juice
  3. Tomato juice
  4. Low-fat milk or yogurt
  5. Green tea or hibiscus tea
  6. Berry juice or berry banana smoothie
  7. Coconut water
  8. Beetroot juice

Yes. Constant dehydration can raise your blood pressure in the long run. So drinking at least 2 to 3 liters of water every day can help lower your blood pressure.

Yes. Ginger improves blood circulation and has natural blood pressure lowering qualities. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 4 grams of ginger every day can help lower your blood pressure.

A quick or immediate fall in your blood pressure levels can be dangerous. But in emergencies, having a piece of dark chocolate and a cup of chamomile tea may help you lower your blood pressure. In general, adopting the DASH Diet and taking your blood pressure medicines, if any, can help you lower your blood pressure levels safely.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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