Aging & Health A to Z
High Blood Pressure
Lifestyle & Management
Treatment for high blood pressure usually begins with changes in diet and lifestyle unless your blood pressure is very high and/or you have other medical conditions that indicate that medications should be started right away.
Lifestyle changes may be all that are needed for blood pressure management if your blood pressure is between 140/90 to 159/99 mm Hg.
Studies have shown that many people can benefit a great deal from:
- Lowering salt and fat in your diet
- Drinking alcohol only in moderation
- Quitting smoking
- Losing weight (if needed).
Lifestyle changes are an important part of treatment even if you are taking medication. Even relatively minor changes in lifestyle can help. Some research has shown benefits from only minor decreases in salt intake and long-term weight loss of only 8-10 pounds. But be sure talk with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
The DASH Diet
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is proven to help lower high blood pressure. It helps you lower your salt intake and encourages healthy foods, including nuts, whole grains, beans, fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables.
The DASH diet is also rich in minerals that help to maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system.
- Bananas and plantains
- Lima beans
- Oat bran
- Peanuts, almonds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Spinach, cooked
- Black beans
- Whole grain cereal, cooked
- Tomato paste.
- Low-fat dairy products
- Greens, including bok choy, Chinese cabbage, kale, collard, turnip
- Soy milk and tofu
- Foods with added calcium, such as orange juice and some breakfast cereals (read the labels)
- Almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012