Hypertension and Diet: Healthy Eating Plans for Lower Blood Pressure

medical specialist checking patient's blood pressure

About 122.4 million American adults suffer from hypertension. When left unmanaged, it can lead to serious health complications, such as stroke, heart disease, and kidney problems. 

The link between hypertension and diet is undeniable—studies show a lower risk of hypertension in people with diets rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables compared to people with diets high in sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats.

In this blog, we’ll explore four dietary recommendations for hypertension, how to incorporate them, and how to customize your diet for optimal results. Read on and learn how to make healthy eating plans to keep your blood pressure in check. 

Understanding Hypertension

Hypertension occurs when the blood pressure in one’s arteries is elevated and strains the heart. That additional strain on the heart can put you at higher risk of stroke and heart attack—two leading causes of death in the United States. 

In technical terms, hypertension is defined as blood pressure whose top number (systole) is at or above 130 mm Hg and/or bottom number (diastole) is at or above 80 mm Hg. This threshold indicates the need for proper monitoring and management to mitigate the associated risks, including kidney disease, vision impairment, and cognitive impairment.

Fortunately, you can make the necessary changes in your lifestyle and nutrition for hypertension management. Along with regular physical activity, alcohol abstinence, and smoking cessation, keeping a healthy diet, particularly one low in sodium, can aid in managing blood pressure.

The DASH Diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a well-researched eating plan providing essential nutrients to help reduce or manage blood pressure. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins and limits sodium, saturated fats, and sugar intake.

Many studies show the health benefits of the DASH diet for hypertension. The 1999 DASH trial involved 459 participants and compared three diets: the typical American diet, the typical American diet plus more fruits and vegetables, and the DASH diet. It found that the DASH diet had the most significant effect on lowering high blood pressure.

Here’s how you can incorporate the DASH diet into your daily meals. DASH Diet: woman in jeans eating healthy oatmeal bowl with fruits for maintaining blood pressure

  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake. Eat four to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Include apples, bananas, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Choose whole grains. Aim for six to eight servings of whole grains every day. Opt for whole grains like whole-wheat bread, oats, and brown rice instead of refined grains. 
  • Eat lean proteins. Limit red meat consumption and add fish, beans, skinless poultry, nuts, and other lean protein sources to your meals. 
  • Consume low-fat dairy. Add two to three servings of low-fat dairy products to your daily meals. Skim milk, low-fat cheese, and yogurt can help you meet your calcium and protein needs.
  • Limit sodium intake. High sodium consumption can lead to hypertension. Reduce your sodium intake by choosing fresh foods over processed ones, refraining from adding salt to your meals, and choosing low-sodium food alternatives.
  • Choose healthy fats. Cook with vegetable oils and choose healthy fats like olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, limit fatty meats and full-fat dairy in your diet. Saturated fats should only account for 5–6% of your daily food intake.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink 2 to 3 liters or at least eight glasses of water daily. Staying hydrated contributes to blood pressure regulation and overall health.

Mediterranean Diet

mediteranian diet: man preparing healthy meals

Based on the dietary practices of Southern Italy, Crete, and Greece during the mid-20th century, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes meals composed of heart-healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, lean meat, and whole grains. The high intake of healthy fats from seeds, nuts, and olive oil has been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Studies have found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce blood pressure and enhance cardiovascular health. This diet creates nitro fatty acids, lipids that naturally reduce blood pressure. A study of 26,000 women found that those who followed the diet had a 25% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. 



Here are some quick and easy Mediterranean-inspired meals you can try at home.

  • For breakfast: Mediterranean pita, pesto eggs with spinach on toast
  • For lunch: tuna salad-stuffed avocados, Mediterranean chickpea salad
  • For dinner: baked salmon with lemon and herbs, Mediterranean pasta salad


Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based diet: healthy bowl of salad

You can’t talk about hypertension and diet and not talk about the plant-based diet. It became popular for its potential to lower high blood pressure and overall health benefits. It emphasizes eating fresh, whole plant foods like fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains while minimizing or eliminating the consumption of animal produce. It provides ample nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants while being low in saturated fats and sodium—helping maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Plant-based diets, in general, have been linked to a 34% risk reduction of developing hypertension. Numerous studies have highlighted their effectiveness in regulating blood pressure. A 2003 Current Hypertension Reports review found that various intervention studies linked plant-based diets to lower blood pressure. A 2020 study also found that plant-based diets can lower blood pressure even with limited meat and dairy consumption. 

You can’t switch to a plant-based diet overnight. Your palate needs to adjust to minimal or zero meat consumption, demanding gradual and consistent practice to make it a long-term habit. It also requires careful planning to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients. Here are some tips to help you transition to a plant-based diet.

  • Start slow. Don’t go cold turkey. Gradually incorporate plant-based foods into your meals. Every week, replace one or two of your usual animal-based meals with plant-based alternatives, then gradually increase the plant-based meals over time.
  • Explore plant proteins. A common misconception is that going plant-based might cause protein deficiency. That’s not the case—you can meet your daily protein needs by consuming plant-based protein sources like lentils, beans, tofu, and quinoa.
  • Choose whole foods. For optimal nutrient intake, avoid or limit the consumption of processed foods and choose whole, fresh plant foods.
  • Get creative. Explore new cooking techniques and recipes to make your plant-based meals more exciting and flavorful. Various herbs, spices, and cooking methods can enhance the taste of plant-based dishes.

Low-Sodium Diet

two plates of low sodium meal for hypertension management

Among other diets, there’s probably nothing simpler and more effective than the low-sodium diet for hypertension. Sodium naturally acts like a sponge in your body, attracting and retaining water. High sodium can cause the body to retain too much water, increasing blood volume. That extra blood volume leads to increased blood pressure.

Reducing your sodium intake leads to decreased water retention, lowering the overall volume of blood circulating in your body. In turn, this lowers your blood pressure, significantly affecting your risk and management of hypertension. A 2023 study found that 70–75% of people experienced reduced blood pressure when they lowered their sodium intake.


Here are some tips to help you get started on a low-sodium diet.


  • Read food labels. Read the Nutrition Facts labels and compare sodium levels while shopping. Choose food products or condiments with lower sodium content.
  • Cook at home. Preparing and cooking at home gives you control over the amount of sodium in your meals. When doing so, opt for fresh, frozen, or canned ingredients with little to no sodium.
  • Use salt alternatives. You can limit or avoid salt while still enjoying great-tasting food. Use herbs, spices, citrus juice, garlic, and salt-free seasonings to add flavor to your meals.
  • Limit processed foods. Avoid or limit eating processed foods often loaded with sodium. Choose whole, unprocessed foods, such as lean meat, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. 
  • Eat out wisely. When dining out, ask for nutritional information and politely request that little or no sodium be added to your meals.

Customizing Your Diet for Lower Blood Pressure

Tailoring your diet to preexisting health conditions, personal preferences, and other factors can make it easier to follow such dietary recommendations. It can help you manage your health better and achieve your wellness goals faster. 

You can customize your diet by identifying suitable ingredient substitutes to accommodate such restrictions or preferences. For instance, you can explore vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free substitutes accordingly. You can also control your portion sizes to meet your weight management goals and energy needs.

Planning your diet doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. You can schedule a consultation with registered dietitians or healthcare providers, such as our wonderful team at Edge Weight Loss & Fatigue, for personalized dietary advice for managing hypertension.


A heart-healthy diet can help you fight hypertension. Lower your blood pressure by adopting the diets we shared here. 

There is no one-size-fits-all dietary approach to wellness. Explore various dietary approaches and find what works for your lifestyle and palate. Make the sustainable nutritional changes you need with Edge Weight Loss & Fatigue in Spring, Texas! We offer personalized nutrition therapy services grounded in the intricate link between hypertension and diet. 

Your healthy and customized eating plans for lower blood pressure await. Call (832) 662-3661 now to get started!

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