Five foods to help lower blood pressure
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods.

3 min read

High blood pressure is a health issue that affects both young and old Australians alike, with close to 6 million Australians (34%) aged 18 years and over with high blood pressure.

Alarmingly it’s one of the leading risk factors for death and disability in Australia, as well as across the world.

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods.

The foods we choose every day are important for our heart health. Research into high blood pressure shows us that the foods we consume can help to lower and manage high blood pressure.

But don’t worry, we’ve done the heavy lifting and read the research, all you need to do is read on. The following foods are your best bets in beating high blood pressure– based on the science.

Vegetables

While research on beetroots and high blood pressure has got a lot of coverage lately, don’t think that beetroot is the only vegetable of importance. Regularly having 4-5 serves of vegetables is linked to a lower risk of high blood pressure. In the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating pattern, people who ate more vegetables and fruit compared to their regular diet (which was probably low in these natural superfoods) had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t.

Choose a variety of fruit and vegetables. The different colours offer different healthy nutrients. Read here for more information on what a serve is and ways to get more vegetables in your day

Fruit

After reading about vegetables, it’s no surprise their partner fruit features in a healthy eating pattern for managing high blood pressure. Like vegetables, fruit is a rich source of potassium, magnesium and fibre.

Include a handful of frozen and washed berries on your yoghurt or a piece of fruit with nuts as a 3pm pick me up.

Fresh, frozen, canned fruit and vegetables all count towards your daily amount. Frozen and canned vegetables can be just as healthy as fresh. Read the nutrition information panel to avoid added salt and added sugar in these varieties, and check out our tips on storing fresh fruit and vegetables.

Wholegrains

This may be more surprising given some fad diets swear off wholegrain foods like bread or cereals but regular consumption of wholegrains is linked with healthier hearts, and a lower risk of high blood pressure. This is no surprise to us here at the Heart Foundation - we know high intake of wholegrains is linked to a 30% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Choose wholegrain versions of your regular foods: wholegrain pasta and rice, wholegrain bread, wholegrain or high fibre breakfast cereal like rolled oats, porridge, or untoasted muesli. Remember to watch your portion size. Rice and pasta can be easy to over-serve. At your main meal keep to ½ to 1 cup (cooked) and instead load up on vegetables.

Reduced fat dairy

Combining the vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain choices with reduced fat unflavoured dairy products like milk and yoghurt has been linked to greater reductions in blood pressure than increasing fruit and veg intake alone.

Choose reduced fat unflavoured milk, cheese and yoghurt and look for ways to include these foods as a nourishing snack. Enjoy reduced fat plain yoghurt with a bowl of wholegrain cereal, topped with berries and nuts and you have a recipe for success. Add reduced fat cheese with tomato and avocado to wholegrain crackers for filling morning or afternoon snack.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are delicious and nutritious. Nuts and seeds provide healthy unsaturated fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Nuts, seeds and legumes are important parts of healthy eating patterns, so try and include some plain unsalted nuts and seeds in your meals every day. A serve of nuts or seeds is 30g, or a small handful.

An added bonus - regular consumption of nuts is linked to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood, and does not lead to weight gain.

Spice up your life

Including these foods everyday will put you on a path to good health. More of these foods means less of the foods that may be too high in salt or saturated fat. Limiting your salt and saturated fat intake is important for your heart health, and the health of your blood vessels. Choose the above foods and know you’ll be automatically lowering your salt and saturated fat intake. When cooking, use different spices to bring out the flavour of your foods instead of salt.

And when you choose packaged foods, don’t always trust your tastebuds – trust the nutrition information panel instead – as many of the the packaged foods we turn to for quick and convenient meals can contain way too much hidden salt.

What do we take away from this?

Small changes count.

Several small changes can lead to big change, which is good news for our blood vessels and our hearts.  

You might also be interested in

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Lower your cholesterol, whether you're eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or even a snack....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Search all of our heart healthy recipes ...

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

Nutrition action plan

Nutrition action plan

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Feel healthier and happier in six weeks with a free Personal Walking Plan...

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

A series of virtual events for young adults on managing emotional wellbeing. ...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Join the Heart Foundation in South Australia for the journey of a lifetime, trekking the ancient Flinders Ranges to help save Australian hearts....

Beef recipes

Beef recipes

Beef recipes

Find heart healthy beef recipes....

Healthy Bowl Recipes

Healthy Bowl Recipes

Healthy Bowl Recipes

Find more heart healthy bowl recipes in our Bowl Foods recipe booklet...

How we work

How we work

How we work

One Heart, One Team...

Risk factors for women

Risk factors for women

Risk factors for women

In Australia, 90% of women have one risk factor for heart disease, and 50% have two or more. ...

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts is a six-episode series interviewing young people with lived experience of heart conditions and talking through advice for supporting emotional health and well-being....

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Every dollar that you donate will help fund research, support and programs that help save lives....

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Register Your Interest

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Register Your Interest

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Register Your Interest

The Heart Foundation will soon be launching a Heart Health Check Toolkit for GPs, practice nurses and practice managers....

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Every day, 22 women lose their lives to this condition....

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management resources for health professionals...

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Learn about the common tests your doctor may want you to have to diagnose your heart condition....

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

Looking to claim your donations in your tax return this financial year?...

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Discover our Annual reports from 2013 onwards. ...

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

The Blueprint for an active Australia provides evidence-based actions to help address physical inactivity....

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Explore how to manage your financial concerns after a heart attack. ...

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

This webinar discusses the role of practice nurses in conducting heart health checks...

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Australia, but the burden of disease disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples....

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Improving the design of our cities, towns, streets and buildings makes it easier for Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....

Q&A with Lauren Blekkenhorst

Q&A with Lauren Blekkenhorst

Q&A with Lauren Blekkenhorst

Research to develop better evidence for the vascular and metabolic health benefits of vegetables and their bioactive constituents....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition. ...

Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

The Australian Guideline for Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease (2nd Edition)​....