Sep 1, 2003 Table of Contents

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Healthy Eating for Blood Pressure Control

Am Fam Physician. 2003 Sep 1;68(5):865-866.

You can help lower your blood pressure by eating foods that are part of a healthy diet. If you want to keep your blood pressure normal, the best diet is one that is low in salt, sugar, and fat, and high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

You should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy products. You should limit red meat, sugar, fat, foods high in cholesterol, and alcohol. You also should try to stay at a healthy weight.

Here is a sample diet for you to follow. It has 2,000 calories per day. You may need fewer or more servings per day, depending on your height and weight, and how active you are. Talk to your doctor about the number of servings that is right for you.

Food group Daily servings for 2,000 calorie diet Sample serving sizes

Whole grains

7 to 8

1 slice whole-grain bread

1/2 cup cooked oatmeal

1/2 cup cooked brown rice or whole-wheat pasta

Non-starchy vegetables

4 to 5

1 cup raw leafy vegetables

1/2 cup cooked or raw vegetables

6 ounces low-sodium vegetable juice

Fruits

4 to 5

1 medium fresh fruit (such as apple, banana, or pear)

1/4 cup dried fruit

1/2 cup canned fruit, drained

Low-fat dairy

2 to 3

8 ounces skim milk

1 cup low-fat yogurt

1 1/2 ounces cheese (the size of 1 1/2 dominoes)

Lean meats

1 or 2

3 ounces (the size of the palm of your hand) cooked lean meat, skinless poultry, or fish

Nuts, seeds, dry beans

4 to 5 per week

1/3 cup nuts

1 tablespoon seeds

1/2 cup cooked beans

Fats/oils

2 to 3

1 teaspoon margarine

1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Sweets

5 per week

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon jelly or jam


Adapted from Facts about lowering blood pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Bethesda, Md.: National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2000. NIH publication no. 00-3281.

Food group Daily servings for 2,000 calorie diet Sample serving sizes

Whole grains

7 to 8

1 slice whole-grain bread

1/2 cup cooked oatmeal

1/2 cup cooked brown rice or whole-wheat pasta

Non-starchy vegetables

4 to 5

1 cup raw leafy vegetables

1/2 cup cooked or raw vegetables

6 ounces low-sodium vegetable juice

Fruits

4 to 5

1 medium fresh fruit (such as apple, banana, or pear)

1/4 cup dried fruit

1/2 cup canned fruit, drained

Low-fat dairy

2 to 3

8 ounces skim milk

1 cup low-fat yogurt

1 1/2 ounces cheese (the size of 1 1/2 dominoes)

Lean meats

1 or 2

3 ounces (the size of the palm of your hand) cooked lean meat, skinless poultry, or fish

Nuts, seeds, dry beans

4 to 5 per week

1/3 cup nuts

1 tablespoon seeds

1/2 cup cooked beans

Fats/oils

2 to 3

1 teaspoon margarine

1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Sweets

5 per week

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon jelly or jam


Adapted from Facts about lowering blood pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Bethesda, Md.: National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2000. NIH publication no. 00-3281.

How can I get to a healthy weight?

Talk to your doctor about whether you need to lose weight. Your doctor may recommend certain kinds of exercises for you. Start exercising slowly and gradually build up until you are exercising for 30 to 40 minutes on four to six days a week. Most people who lose weight and keep it off are successful because they eat a healthy diet every day and exercise almost every day.

Here are some other things you can do to reach a healthy weight:

  • Limit alcoholic drinks to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

  • Limit your salt to 2.4 grams per day. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest that you eat even less salt. Salt is already in many foods, but processed foods and condiments (such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, and soy sauce) have the most salt. Check food labels to see the salt content.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on lowering your blood pressure through diet and exercise, contact the following organizations:

American Academy of Family Physicians

Web site: www.familydoctor.org

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

P.O. Box 30105

Bethesda, MD 20824-0105

Telephone: 1-301-592-8573

Fax: 1-301-592-8563

E-mail: nhlbiinfo@rover.nhlbi.nih.gov

Web site: (www.nhlbi.nih.gov).


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 2003 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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