Best Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid for High Blood Pressure
Medicare Benefits Solutions
Mar 28, 2022
High blood pressure (HBP), otherwise known as hypertension, is described by the American Heart Association as a condition that occurs “when your blood pressure, the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high.”
There are two forces at work, and damage begins when the work is too hard. One force is pumping blood from your heart into your arteries, and the second is the heart at rest between heartbeats.
When lanes are restricted, the blood flow can create tears in the walls of these channels. If plaque forms, the vessels become narrower, leading to even more pressure for the blood to get through.
TIP: Are you looking for a plan that includes dietary or nutritional coverage? Use our online Medicare plan finder to help you find and compare plans.
Optimal Nutrition Plan
If you have HBP, your doctor may encourage you to learn the best foods to eat to help lower your high blood pressure – and the foods to avoid when you’re trying to manage it.
The best diet and nutrition plan starts with an understanding of which types of food you can consume with gusto – and what to eat minimally or bypass altogether.
TIP: Get more great healthy living, food and nutritional advice content when you subscribe to the Medicare Benefits newsletter.
Find a new Medicare plan
Get recommendations based on what's important to you, and compare them to your existing plan.
Top Foods to Eat When You Have High Blood Pressure
There are several food items that provide nutrients while managing your hypertension. To get started, here is a small sample of what foods are good for high blood pressure.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and plums are delicious, versatile and easily transportable as snacks while you’re at work or on the go. These colorful berries contain anthocyanin, a reddish or blue pigment that offers health benefits. An article published in PubMed Central (PMC), Nutrients, stated that “anthocyanins may contribute to the inverse relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and chronic disease,” such as heart disease.
Bananas are sweet and versatile. Some people freeze ripe bananas to save for later use as an ingredient in muffins and pancakes. Bananas are a potassium-rich food. Potassium helps with many metabolic functions, including water balance, muscle action, metabolism, insulin release and blood pressure. One of the primary dietary variables associated with HBP is sodium. Getting the right balance of sodium and potassium can reduce your chances of developing hypertension.
If you love dark chocolate, studies that suggest dark chocolate is a healthy addition to a balanced diet must be music to your ears. AARP summarized the findings of a Harvard study, which revealed that “eating a small square of dark chocolate daily can help lower blood pressure for people with hypertension.” Researchers credit the flavonoids in cocoa beans that induce blood vessels to dilate. Read the ingredients label to ensure you derive the most health benefits from your indulgence. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better.
Salt-free nuts and seeds
Next time you need a quick snack, consider grabbing a handful of unsalted nuts or seeds. Nuts and seeds add crunch to salads, texture to baked goods and thickness to protein shakes. Unsalted nuts, such as almonds and pistachios, and unsalted seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds, are packed with minerals. The right balance of minerals reduces blood pressure, making these foods a healthful staple to keep in your pantry. It’s best to keep portions small because the calorie content is high. But nuts and seeds are filling, so a little goes a long way.
Enjoy your bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast, knowing that this food contains beta-glucan, which offers multiple health benefits. According to Healthline, beta-glucan is a fiber abundant in antioxidants that can reduce bad cholesterol, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease. To enhance the health benefits of oatmeal, mix in fresh berries and unsalted nuts.
Top Foods to Avoid When You Have High Blood Pressure
The following is a guide on what foods may contribute to high blood pressure. Try to cut back or eliminate these foods.
Studies have shown a correlation between reduced sodium intake and reduced blood pressure. Consuming too much sodium leads to excess water retention that can strain your heart and blood vessels. Try to control your sodium intake and increase other minerals, specifically calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Fast foods and processed meals are convenient, and there are days when other options are limited. But keep these foods to a minimum because not only do they tend to be high in sodium but high in calories as well. Studies have shown a link between excess weight and HBP risk.
Limiting meat to lean cuts is a healthier choice than fatty meat if you are concerned about HBP. According to the American Heart Association, “dietary fat contributes to the elevation of blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease.”
Not only is deli meat chock-full of sodium, but people tend to buy deli sandwiches that include other high-sodium foods. If your lunch includes deli meat and cheese on bread with pickles and chips on the side, you may be looking at a high-sodium meal.
Food with trans fat
During the process of making products like pastry and pizza dough, food manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oils to create a more solid form. The byproduct is trans fatty acid, referred to as partially hydrogenated oil. The American Heart Association warns that trans fat raises bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol, putting you at greater risk for heart disease.
Optimal Nutritional Plan When You Have Hypertension
Now that you know the best foods for high blood pressure and what foods to avoid with high blood pressure, you can create a plan to deal with hypertension that expands on your doctor’s plan of care.
If optimal nutrition is your goal, you may want to visit a nutritionist. Being health-minded does not mean you have to sacrifice the joy of eating. A nutritionist can work with you to develop a customized menu that includes foods to eat for high blood pressure and allows you to indulge in your favorite dishes.
Consult with your physician before changing your diet dramatically. Be creative and eat well!
Healthy Living Tips Delivered to Your Inbox
If you’d like to discover more great healthy living tips, news, and information make sure you subscribe to the Medicare Benefits Solutions newsletter!
We cover many great topics including:
- Aging in place
- Alternative medicine
- Caregiver resources
- Chair yoga
- Dental care
- Focus on mental health
- Gym membership
- Health and wellness
- Hearing loss
- Mindful eating
- Optimal nutrition
- Pain management
- Senior transportation services
- Telehealth and remote office visits
- Vision and eyecare and much more
Subscribe to our FREE newsletter today!
Call a licensed sales agent at
877-406-1753 or TTY 771
Mon – Sun 5am to 8pm PST
Find a plan
Get plan recommendations
Compare your current Medicare plan to our recommendations – then choose the plan that gives you more of the things you want.