How Should I Eat if I Have High Blood Pressure?

How Should I Eat if I Have High Blood Pressure?
Nutrition
Written By:
Gena
Pierce
MS
RD
LD

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood pumped around your body by your heart.

If your blood pressure is high, it can cause your blood vessels to constrict and become stiff, leading to damage over time. Many factors can affect blood pressure including food, fluid intake, alcohol and tobacco, exercise, stress levels, rest levels, and more. 

Know your numbers!

Most doctors recommend a blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg or less. Elevated blood pressure can be “silent,” meaning you do not always “feel” different or symptomatic. Keeping regularly scheduled health care appointments can help monitor your blood pressure and will help you to understand your blood pressure goals. You can also monitor your blood pressure at home with an automatic blood pressure cuff, if needed.

Apply nutrition knowledge.

Food intake can affect your blood pressure. We want to ensure you are eating the proper nutrients to support healthy blood vessels. Variety is key when striving to get these nutrients from food. 

Start by increasing:

  • Fruits and vegetables. They are “powerhouses” packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as chlorogenic acid. These nutrients can promote healthy blood vessels and protect from damage. Aim for lots of color! 

  • Insoluble Fiber. It has been associated with lower blood pressure; the specific mechanism is still unknown. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole grains, nuts/seeds, beans, lentils, fruits, and vegetables. Try to keep the skin on fruits and vegetables when possible.

Then follow up by monitoring:

  • Sodium. Salt or sodium chloride is necessary for proper body functions, but too much sodium can increase blood pressure. The general daily recommendations for sodium is 2,300 mg or less. That is just a teaspoon! Try swapping the salt shaker for herbs and spices, vinegar, or citrus juices, and give your taste buds time to adjust!

  • Labels. Nutrition labels will reveal sodium content in each noted serving. Items with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving are considered Low Sodium. Think of sodium intake like a checking account, spend it wisely!

If you are interested in more information or desire custom guidance, our team of dietitians would love to assist you!