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Provided Courtesy of Lowering Your Blood Pressure. Contributed by Shawna Gornick-Ilagan, MS, RD, CWPC Updated by staff. Review Date 11/13 G-1073. Manage Stress. Limit Sodium. Avoid Smoking. Lower Blood Pressure. Exercise Regularly.

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Lowering your blood pressure

Provided Courtesy of

Lowering Your

Blood Pressure

Contributed by Shawna Gornick-Ilagan, MS, RD, CWPC

Updated by staff

Review Date 11/13


Lowering your blood pressure

Manage Stress

Limit Sodium

Avoid Smoking

Lower Blood Pressure

Exercise Regularly

Maintain Healthy Weight

Limit Alcohol

Lowering your blood pressure

Tips to Limit Sodium

  • Choose more:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Breads

  • Cereals

  • Plain pasta or rice

  • Low-fat milk and yogurt

  • Fresh meat and poultry

Lowering your blood pressure

How Much Sodium?

  • Limit sodium to 2400 milligrams (mg)/day, or 1500 mg/day if you are older than 51 years of age, African American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease

Lowering your blood pressure

Tips to Limit Sodium

  • Read labels and look for products that are:

  • Sodium free/salt free—less than 5 mg/serving

  • Very low sodium—35 mg or less/serving

  • Low sodium—140 mg or less/serving

  • Less, fewer, or reduced sodium—contain at least 25% less sodium than comparable foods (always check labels because these foods sometimes are still high in sodium)

Lowering your blood pressure

Tips to Limit Sodium (cont’d)

  • Choose salt-free seasonings:

  • Do not add salt when cooking or at the table

  • Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your foods

  • Avoid seasonings that contain salt, such as:

    • Garlic salt

    • Seasoned salt

Lowering your blood pressure


Barbecue sauce

Cheese spreads



Hot dogs


Luncheon meats

Meat sauce

Salad dressing

Salt pork


Some other condiments

Soy sauce

Limit or Avoid These Foods

Lowering your blood pressure

Bouillon or broth

Canned sauces

Canned soups

Canned vegetables

Convenience foods (main course)—choose ones than contain less than 8 mg of sodium/serving

Fast food

Frozen dinners

Packaged potatoes, rice, and stuffing mixes

Snack foods, such as chips and salted nuts

Tomato and vegetable juice (regular)

Other Foods That Are High in Sodium

Lowering your blood pressure

Manage Your Stress

  • If left unmanaged, stress can cause emotional, psychological, and physical problems:

    • Heart disease

    • Blood pressure

    • Chest pain

    • Irregular heartbeat

  • Stress also may cause you to:

    • Overeat

    • Exercise less

    • Have more of a tendency to smoke

Lowering your blood pressure

Manage Your Stress (cont’d)

  • Identify the stressor

  • Avoid hassles and minor irritations, if possible

  • Try to continue doing the things that you enjoyed doing before the change or stress occurred in your life

  • Learn how to manage your time effectively

  • Do one thing at a time—take breaks

  • Ask for help if you need it

Lowering your blood pressure

Avoid Smoking

  • What if I told you I would pay you $2055 to quit smoking today?

    • That is how much you would pay yourself in just 1 year (based on one pack/day at the average price of $5.63/pack)

Lowering your blood pressure

Quitting Smoking: The Health Benefits

  • Within 2 days: Improved sense of smell and taste

  • 1 to 3 months: Reduced coughing and relief of sore throat

  • 1 year: Risk of heart attack or sudden death cut in half

  • 2 to 3 years: Risk of heart attack (in people without cardiovascular disease) is as low as for lifelong nonsmokers

  • 5 to 10 years: Risk of stroke is that of a lifelong nonsmoker

Lowering your blood pressure

Focus on Activity

  • Exercise provides health to your heart, lungs, and circulation

  • Moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity:

    • 30 minutes most days of the week at 50% to 85% maximum heart rate

    • Maximum heart rate for males=200‒age

    • Maximum heart rate for females=226‒age

    • Several sessions are fine—three 10-minute or two 15-minute sessions to equal 30 minutes

Lowering your blood pressure

Focus on Activity (cont’d)

  • Physical activity can reduce:

    • Blood pressure

    • Cigarette smoking

    • The chance of you getting diabetes

    • Extra body weight in the overweight/obese

    • Triglyceride levels

  • Physical activity also can increase high-density lipoprotein and so much more

Lowering your blood pressure

Limit Alcohol

  • Moderate drinking is defined as:

    • No more than one drink/day for women

    • No more than two drinks/day for men

  • Drinking more than three drinks/day is detrimental to heart function

  • One drink is equal to:

    • 12 fluid ounces (fl oz) of beer

    • 12 fl oz of wine cooler

    • 5 fl oz of wine

    • 1.5 fl oz of 80-proof liquor

Lowering your blood pressure

Maintain a Healthy Weight

  • Losing 5% to 10% of your body weight can decrease your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein:

    • Example: Losing 10 to 20 pounds for a 200-pound person

Lowering your blood pressure

Maintain a Healthy Weight (cont’d)

  • Lose weight by creating a calorie deficit:

    • Reduce portions

    • Try to use calorie-free beverages

    • Focus on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains

    • Opt for the fat-free, sugar-free versions of foods

    • Read food labels

    • Eat three meals/day

    • Stay well hydrated

Lowering your blood pressure

Maintain a Healthy Weight (cont’d)

  • Aerobic activities burn the most calories:

    • Running

    • Swimming

      • Bicycling

  • Strengthening activities also help build muscle