What diets control high blood pressure? This is a common question, as high blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most common diseases of the cardiovascular system. In 90% of cases, high blood pressure cannot be cured, and so it must be managed specifically through a diet for high blood pressure.


What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is defined as the sustained elevated pressure in arteries of 140/90 or higher. People who are genetically sensitive to sodium may have increased blood pressure due to excessive dietary salt intake. Others who are susceptible to high blood pressure include African Americans and individuals over 50 years of age.

Why would a doctor prescribe a diet for high blood pressure?
Blood pressure, also known as “the silent killer” is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Those with hypertension are at increased risk for heart failure, stroke, vascular disease, and kidney failure.

After being diagnosed with high blood pressure, a doctor may prescribe a certain diet for high blood pressure to minimize these risks. It has been shown that diets control high blood pressure by eliminating certain factors that negatively influence the body’s physiology and function (such as sodium), and by increasing substances proven to be effective in lowering blood pressure (such as Calcium).

In addition to a diet for high blood pressure, many individuals with hypertension benefit from other lifestyle changes, such as exercise.

Sodium causes blood vessels to constrict, which in turn, decreases the total amount of space available for blood to flow. This creates more resistance against the flowing blood, thereby raising blood pressure.

Here are some guidelines for a reduced-sodium diet for high blood pressure:

  • Avoid overly processed high sodium foods such as processed meats, salty snack foods, cheese and canned foods.
  • Don’t add extra salt to foods, especially in restaurants.
  • If you must have a salty flavor, use a salt substitute.
  • Keep in mind that 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day is the healthy daily intake — merely one teaspoon of table salt!
  • Sodium restricted diets control high blood pressure especially well for African Americans, diabetics, the elderly and overweight people.

During studies on hypertension, the National Institutes of Health studied how diets control high blood pressure, and formulated a new approach called the D.A.S.H. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. This diet takes a high-fiber, high-nutrient approach, and encourages the addition of more electrolytes, calcium, potassium and magnesium to help regulate blood pressure.


  • Eat whole grain carbohydrates instead of refined flour products, such as 100% stone ground whole wheat bread instead of white bread, or brown rice instead of white.
  • Use monounsaturated fats like olive oil and canola oil in place of butter.
  • Eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables to increase dietary fiber, another ingredient thought to lower blood pressure.
  • Increase potassium-rich foods in the diet: bananas, avocadoes, acorn squash and potatoes.
  • Eat calcium-rich foods: low-fat milk, sardines with bones, tofu, broccoli and spinach.
  • Increase magnesium intake: beans & seeds.
  • Lower saturated fat intake. Saturated fat is high in low density lipoproteins, which stick to artery walls, and cause eventual mineral hardening. Over time, these hardened arteries lead to high blood pressure.
  • Consume small amounts of protein. Consider adding more fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon) to improve heart health.

If you have any questions on a diet for high blood pressure, please contact us. 


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