Diet and its Effects on Blood Pressure

How changing your diet can help you lower your blood pressure

Did you know that the food you eat on a daily basis can have a huge effect on your blood pressure? In addition to your age, ethnicity, lifestyle and activity level, your diet is one of the biggest factors in determining your blood pressure.

If you currently have prehypertension or high blood pressure, changing your diet can help you significantly reduce your blood pressure. A healthy diet can result in your systolic blood pressure dropping by 7-12 points over an extended period.

In this guide, we’ll share five foods that you can add to your diet that could lower your blood pressure. We’ll also share some simple principles to help you improve your long-term eating habits and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

Note: It’s important to consult your doctor before making major changes to your diet and lifestyle. This is especially true if you’re taking medication for high blood pressure or other conditions that could interact with elements of your diet.

Improving your diet to improve your blood pressure

Many of the foods you eat on a daily basis could be contributing to your high blood pressure. Classic dietary staples like fried eggs or fish and chips might be tasty, but they can also raise your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.

Changing your diet to lower your blood pressure doesn’t have to be difficult, and if done right you can still enjoy many of your favourite foods. Apply these simple but effective principles to your diet to start lowering your blood pressure today:

  • Avoid deep fried foods such as chips, which are high in saturated fat. These foods might taste good, but they can contribute to high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
  • Avoid salty foods such as crisps, lunch meats and canned foods. Fast food is also very high in sodium. The DASH diet – one of the world’s top high blood pressure prevention diets – recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (or 1,500 mg for very high blood pressure) per day.
  • Replace sweets, salty foods and other treats with fruit and vegetables. These foods are rich in minerals like potassium and magnesium, which make your entire body healthier. They’re also packed with vitamins and fibre.

5 foods to add to your diet for better blood pressure

Sometimes, the hardest part of starting a healthier diet isn’t finding the willpower to change your habits, but thinking of new foods to eat. This is particularly true if your previous diet was largely made up of junk foods and snacks.

Do you need help starting on the healthy eating path? Try adding these five foods to your daily diet (in the servings recommended below) to lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health:

  • Fresh fruits, such as oranges, apples, bananas, watermelon, pineapples and more. Fresh fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals. If you eat canned fruit or drink fruit juice, make sure you choose a natural option that doesn’t contain any extra sugar. Consume 4-5 servings of fruit daily
  • Low-fat (or no-fat) dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese contain large amounts of protein and calcium. This makes them essential for muscle and bone health. Consume 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy foods daily.
  • Almonds, lentils, kidney beans and other legumes are wonderful sources of fibre and protein. Many nuts are also wonderful sources of healthy fats and phytochemicals – substances that prevent cardiovascular disease. Try to eat one serving of nuts or lentils daily.
  • Lean meats such as chicken breast, tuna, salmon or beef steak are wonderful sources of protein and iron. If you like to consume red meat, choose cuts that contain as little fast a possible. Choose a small portion that can fit inside your palm; fill the rest of your plate with complex carbs and vegetables.
  • Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread and pasta or cereal. Complex carbohydrates are a wonderful energy source that results in steady energy and alertness throughout the day. Consume about six servings of complex carbs per day; more if you’re exceptionally active.