There is a link between eating salt and having high blood
pressure. Lowering salt in the diet may prevent high
blood pressure in those at risk for the disease.
For tips on limiting salt, see Sodium and High Blood Pressure.
African Americans, older adults, and people with diabetes may benefit most from lowering their dietary sodium intake.
Eat fewer processed foods
Cutting back on the
amount of processed or refined foods you eat can help. These foods,
such as canned and instant soups, packaged mixes, and snack items,
don't have enough calcium, potassium, and magnesium-the very
nutrients you need to help lower your blood pressure. And
these foods usually are high in salt and high in bad fats.
You also may try a vegetarian diet. In
general, vegetarian diets reduce blood pressure, although experts
don't know exactly why. The DASH diet could easily be a vegetarian
diet if legumes (for example, beans, lentils, peas, and
peanuts) were substituted for meat. Vegetarian diets tend to be
higher in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as does the DASH diet. Vegetarian
diets also are higher in fiber and unsaturated fats than other diets.
Potassium, calcium, and magnesium
Not eating enough foods containing
magnesium may contribute to
high blood pressure.
To get enough of these nutrients, eat a balanced diet that contains plenty of fresh fruits,
vegetables, dairy foods, and whole grains. Most people do not need to take dietary supplements.
Good sources of potassium
All fresh fruits and
vegetables and meats are good sources of potassium. Examples include the
- Bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, and orange
- Raw or cooked spinach, lima beans, zucchini, broccoli,
carrots, cauliflower, and artichokes
(cooked dried beans and peas) such as pinto beans, chickpeas, and
- Nuts and seeds
Good sources of calcium
- Low-fat dairy products (yogurt, skim milk,
Good sources of magnesium
- Legumes (cooked dried beans and peas), seeds,
- Milk and yogurt
- Brown rice
- Bananas and
- Leafy green vegetables
The safest way to ensure good
nutrition is through a balanced, varied diet instead of through nutritional
Very large amounts of any of these minerals taken in the form of a
supplement can cause problems, including possible death. See your doctor before
taking large quantities of any supplement.
What does not lower blood pressure?
Fish and fish oil
Fish or fish oil supplements do not lower blood pressure. But eating fish can help lower your risk for heart disease.
You can eat fish as part of the DASH diet. Fish is part of heart-healthy eating. The American Heart Association suggests eating at least two servings of fish a week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best for your heart. These fish include tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.