You don’t have to revolutionise the way you think about food. Here are five easy-to-follow tips to help you manage your blood pressure.
1. Reduce salt intake
Salt has a direct impact on blood pressure, so try to find low-sodium alternatives of your favourite foods.
Salt levels should be clearly marked on all packaged foods, so use the traffic light system, aiming for a 'green' amount of salt to bring your intake down.
Read more about how to reduce the amount of salt in your diet, as well as the amount of sugar and saturated fat.
2. Portion control
Excess weight can add to your blood pressure issues, so if you're carrying a few extra pounds, it's essential that you control your portion sizes. Avoid eating large amounts in single sittings, and instead try to eat smaller portions at more frequent points during the day.
Along with regular exercise, reducing your portion sizes will help create the calorie deficit that's essential for weight loss.
It's also important to make sure you're eating a balanced diet with the right combinations of carbohydrates, proteins and good fats – see our guide to building a healthy lunch for an example.
3. Increase potassium and nitrates
Potassium and nitrates have been shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure levels.
To get more of these, try to eat more foods like dark, leafy greens, bananas and beetroot, and you should see a positive impact over time.
Aiming for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day will also help to get more potassium and nitrates in your diet.
Find out more about what to eat if you have high blood pressure.
4. Reduce alcohol consumption
There's a direct link between alcohol and blood pressure. You should aim to limit your alcohol intake to avoid chronic high blood pressure (hypertension).
It's recommended that you drink less than 14 units of alcohol per week, which you can calculate via Drinkaware.
5. Limit caffeine and nicotine
Caffeine and nicotine can also affect blood pressure. Timing of caffeine is just as important as the amount. The advice is that you drink less than two cups of caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee per day, and consume these before 12pm. Switching to decaffeinated options after 12pm can help.
Don't forget about caffeine found in other foods like fizzy drinks and chocolate. And be mindful of other stimulants like nicotine from smoking and vaping.
It can help to keep track of your blood pressure
Once you've started to make these dietary changes, make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly – either with your GP or in the community – so you can see any improvements and motivate yourself to take control of your health.
Alternatively you could get your own blood pressure monitor, to test your blood pressure quickly and easily from the comfort of your home.
If you're not sure what your numbers mean, take a look at blood pressure numbers explained.
Last updated Tuesday 24 January 2023
First published on Wednesday 30 March 2016