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eat less salt

Eat Right: Do's and Don'ts to Control Blood Pressure

Nutrition & Movement

For many women who enjoy cooking, food means fun, tradition, and love. But, if you or someone in your family has high blood pressure or risk factors for high blood pressure, you may need to reduce the salt and fat in your cooking to help control the disease.

How can you stay true to your passion and your food roots? Inventive recipes and dialing up the herbs and spices make the difference.

You don't need to give up everything you like—just fine-tune to get less salt and harmful fats. Why?

  • Too much salt in your diet makes your body hold on to more water, which raises your blood pressure and puts strain on your heart and kidneys.
  • A diet high in harmful fats can play a role in developing heart disease or raising blood pressure.
  • Sure, it matters what you eat—but too much food of any kind can cause you to gain weight, which can also lead to higher blood pressure.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Do: Potassium. In your body, too much sodium raises your blood pressure, but potassium balances out the extra salt. Where do you get this potassium? Plain baked potatoes, for starters. Also try bananas, avocados, dried apricots, plain yogurt, raw spinach and cooked white beans.
  • Don't: Sodium. Salt shows up where you don't expect it. Nearly half of the sodium we consume comes from 10 food categories: bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta mixed dishes, meat mixed dishes and savory snacks.
  • Don't: Harmful fats. Full flavor without all the fat is possible. Saturated and trans fats are two types of dangerous fats found in many commercial baked goods (think cookies and crackers) and animal products (red meat and dairy products like whole milk, cheese, sour cream, butter and ice cream).

Read the Labels

Start reading the labels to track your nutrients and pay special attention to parts of the diet that can get your blood pressure out of whack. Learn your limits:

  • Sodium: 1,500 mg daily for those with high blood pressure (2,300 mg for others)
  • Potassium: 4,700 mg a day of potassium
  • Saturated fats: less than 10 percent of your daily calories
  • Trans fats: as low as possible

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