Blood Pressure Diet

A blood pressure diet is highly desirable if you have high blood pressure. Many people have high blood pressure without knowing it so it is a good idea to get this checked. Your doctor will do this for you on request or you can buy a blood pressure monitor from a pharmacy or online and do the test at home.

Blood pressure monitor
Omron M2 Basic Blood Pressure Monitor

Everyone has a different blood pressure and your own can vary at different times of the day. However if it is consistently higher than a norm of 140/70 then it would be wise to consider a blood pressure diet.


There are 4 main areas of your diet which affect blood pressure:


  1. Salt
  2. Fruit And Vegetables
  3. Fats
  4. Alcohol

Eat Less Salt

Eating more salt than your body needs will raise your blood pressure because salt retains water in the body. The heart needs to work harder to push the greater volume of blood through your arteries.

An adult requires about 6g of salt a day but it is easy to regularly exceed this due to the salt content of processed foods. Typical foods that contain too much salt include bread, breakfast cereals, ready meals and sauces. Even the meals prepared at your favourite restaurant will contain too much salt because people are conditioned to these high levels.

I remember watching with alarm a restaurant chef preparing a steak by sprinkling a large pinch of salt on both sides of the meat before cooking. The unwary diner then might add to that at the table.

We can cut down on salt in various ways:

Don’t add it to food when you prepare meals at home. You will miss it to start with but gradually your taste buds get used to it. Tip: use other spices and herbs in place of salt. Other foods high in salt are ketchups, stock cubes, gravy granules, soy sauce. NB Many smoked meats such as ham, fish such as anchovies and dairy products such as butter, use salt as a preservative.

Read the ingredients labels before you buy foodstuffs.

•           0.3g salt or less per 100g is ideal

•           0.3-1.5g salt per 100g can be eaten once in a while

•           1.5g salt or more per 100g is way too high and should be avoided

 The ingredients may show sodium which is a component of salt and 1g of sodium is the equivalent of 2.5g salt.

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Healthy fruits

Your body is kept healthy by the vitamins, minerals and fibre contained in fruit and vegetables and also by potassium balancing out the negative effects of salt. These factors are an essential consideration for any blood pressure diet.

Eat at least 5 portions a day of fruits and vegetables (recent research suggests that 7 portions is the optimum) – a portion is 80 grams.

Examples of portions might include:

    A small bowl of salad

    A small bowl of vegetables

    A small bowl of pulses (kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas)

    A fruit such as an apple, orange, pear or banana or 2 smaller fruits   

    A small bowl of fresh berries – blueberries are especially good for you

    A glass of fruit or vegetable juice

Choose fresh vegetables where possible but frozen and tinned can be just as nutritious. However check the labels for undesirable additives. Fresh vegetables and fruit are best stored in the fridge and should be consumed as soon as possible as they become less nutritious with age. The same applies to nuts and seeds.

Try these healthy eating recipes or healthy cooking recipes

Fats and cholesterol

Restricting the amount of fats is a major part of any blood pressure diet and will help to prevent you becoming overweight. The heavier you are the harder the heart has to work which can in time lead to heart disease and strokes.

Eat foods that are low in fat to reduce your cholesterol levels which can build up in the arteries. This narrowing of the arteries is a major cause of raised blood levels and can result in heart attacks or strokes.

There are two types of fat, saturated (bad) and unsaturated (good)

Saturated fats are found in fatty meats such as lamb and dairy products such as butter (I know – all the nice foods we love to eat!) Although there is no need to give them up completely but just have them as an occasional treat.

Unsaturated fats which include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats will help to lower cholesterol in the blood. These can be found in oils such as rapeseed, olive and sunflower.


Read the ingredients labels to check the fat levels.

•           3g total fat or 1g saturated fat or less per 100g of food is ideal

•           3-20g total fat or 1-5g saturated fat per 100g of food can be eaten once in a while

•           20g + total fat or 5g + saturated fat per 100g of food should be avoided


Try to keep to the recommended levels for alcoholic drinks which are 3-4 units per day for men (approx 1.5 pints of average strength beer) and 2-3 units for women (approx a 175ml glass of average strength wine). This is equivalent to 21 units per week for men and 14 for women.

A ready guide to units of alcohol:

Single measure of spirits (25ml) 1 unit

Pint of normal-strength beer      2 units

Medium glass of wine (175ml) 2 units

Large glass of wine (250ml)      3 units

Pint of strong beer        4 units


Avoid drinking during the day

Steer clear of salty snacks which encourage you to drink more

Drink around meal times so that food absorbs the alcohol

Click here for more on dieting for high blood pressure

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