If you’re looking for natural ways to help reduce your blood pressure, following a high blood pressure diet could make an important difference to your next reading. Diet isn’t a substitute for medical treatment for high blood pressure, but a mindful, balanced diet can contribute to getting your blood pressure back into a healthy range.
If you’re looking for the best diet for high blood pressure, DASH is a great place to start. DASH stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ and is an approach to healthy eating that's specifically aimed to help lower blood pressure. It’s built around the following core principles:
Rather than listing exactly what foods you can eat, the DASH diet focuses on portions of food groups1 . Here is an example of how this looks for a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
|Food group||Servings||Serving example|
|Whole grains||6-8 per day||
- 1 slice of whole-grain bread
- 95g of cooked rice, pasta or cereal
|Vegetables||4-5 per day||
- 30g of spinach or kale
- 45g of brocoli, carrots, squash or tomatoes
|Fruits||4-5 per day||
- 1 medium apple
- 50g of dried apricots
|Dairy products||2-3 per day||
- 240ml or low-fat milk
- 285g of low-fat yoghurt
|Lean chicken, meat and fish||No more than 6 per day||
- 28g of cooked meat, chicken or fish
- Limit red meat to occasionally
|Fats and oils||2-3 per day||
- 4.5g or soft margarine
- 5ml of vegetable oil
|Added sugars (refined and natural)||5 max per week||- 12.5g of sugar|
There are three main food groups you’re best to avoid if stabilising rising blood pressure is your aim.
Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure. Adults should aim to limit their salt intake to a daily maximum of 6g (around 1 teaspoon.) That’s equivalent to 2.4g of sodium per day3 .
Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is a great basis for a DASH high blood pressure diet. But here are a few additional foods you might want to include:
The Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna and other oily fish support normal, healthy blood pressure. A daily dose of 3g is recommended. And if you’re not a fish fan, try fish oil supplements instead.
Although flaxseed oil and chia seeds are a source of Omega 3, they don’t have the same effect on lowering blood pressure as fish oil. However, algae products (such as spirulina) show promising signs of blood pressure lowering potential. This offers a good alternative for vegetarians and vegans.
Potassium reduces the effects of sodium which can help with lowering raised blood pressure. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of potassium, especially sweet potatoes, greens, peas and bananas.
If you’re wondering where to start with your high blood pressure diet, the first meal of the day seems sensible. Here are a few blood pressure-friendly foods to get your day started healthily:
There are connections between dehydration and high blood pressure, but more research is needed to fully understand the link. However, whether you have high blood pressure or not, drinking water and staying hydrated is a good, healthy habit. The NHS suggests making six to eight glasses of fluid a day your target. That’s roughly 1.2 litres11 .
A nutritious, balanced diet can help to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. However, DASH, or any other diet, isn’t a treatment for high blood pressure, so it’s important to first seek medical advice for your condition.
Last Updated: 17th November 2020
Joined Holland & Barrett: Jan 2018
Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist and Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018.
Donia has over 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.