Cut back on sodium
There is a link between eating sodium and having high blood
pressure. Reducing sodium in the diet can prevent high blood pressure in those at risk for the disease and can help control high blood pressure. Limiting sodium is part of a heart-healthy eating plan that can help prevent heart disease and stroke.
Try to eat less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, if you are African-American, or if you are older than age 50, try to limit the amount of sodium you eat to less than 1,500 mg a day.1
- Sodium and High Blood Pressure
- Healthy Eating: Eating Less Sodium
- Low-Salt Diets: Eating Out
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 can be high in sodium, saturated fats, and trans 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 to get enough potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
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 (garbanzo beans), 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.