Aging & Health A to Z
High Blood Pressure
Lifestyle & Management
Treatment for high blood pressure usually begins with changes in diet and lifestyle instead of medication. (However, if your blood pressure is very high and/or you have other medical conditions, it may mean that medications should be started right away.)
If you blood pressure is high, making lifestyle changes may be enough to manage your blood pressure.
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 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has promoted a diet that is proven to help lower high blood pressure. It is called the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. 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.
Mineral rich foods include:
- Bananas and plantains
- Lima beans
- Oat bran
- Peanuts and almonds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cooked spinach
- Black beans
- Cooked whole grain cereal
- 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, and sunflower seeds
Updated: December 2017
Posted: March 2012