Diets that can lower your blood pressure

While in most cases we don’t know what causes high blood pressure, we do know that it can be affected by diet.

Some foods can reduce blood pressure, while others increase it. For example, too much sodium (i.e. salt) makes you retain more water, which in turn can make your blood pressure go up. Likewise, some foods are more likely to increase your weight, making you more prone to high blood pressure, while others have the opposite effect.

Dietary change can have surprisingly significant effects. Simply cutting your daily salt intake from eight grammes to four, for example, may reduce your systolic blood pressure by up to seven points. You can do this just by saying no to the salt shaker: many processed foods already contain more salt than is good for you.

The DASH diet

The DASH diet is designed to reduce high blood pressure. Its name stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It involves consuming more:

  • Whole-grain foods
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Nuts
  • Cereals

and consuming less:

  • Saturated and trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Red meat
  • Salt
  • Sugar

The diet was developed by the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHBLI) for a major four-year research study completed in 1997. It was found to reduce blood pressure, often within two weeks, in adults with high normal blood pressure or moderate hypertension. The DASH diet was named Best Diet Overall and Best Heart-Healthy Diet in an evaluation by a panel of medical experts for USNews. The NHBLI has published a fact sheet and suggested menus for the DASH diet.

If you follow the diet, you can track your progress with Omron’s extensive range of blood pressure monitors. And if you suspect you may have high blood pressure, it’s important to speak to your doctor.