High Blood Pressure and Nutrition

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels) which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is above the normal range. In most cases, no one knows what causes high blood pressure. What you eat can affect your blood pressure.

How does nutrition affect blood pressure?

What should I eat to control high blood pressure?

What are some of the foods I should eat?

Unsalted seeds (pumpkin, squash, sunflower) and unsalted nuts are mineral-rich foods that lower blood pressure.

What foods should I eat less of?

What's the difference between sodium and salt?

Salt is mostly sodium, a mineral that occurs naturally in foods. Sodium is the substance that may cause your blood pressure to increase. Other forms of sodium are also present in food. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is another example of a sodium added to food (common in Chinese food).

How does salt increase blood pressure?

When you eat too much salt, which contains sodium, your body holds extra water to "wash" the salt from your body. In some people, this may cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.

How much sodium is too much?

The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake no more than 1,500 milligrams. (A teaspoon of salt has about 2,400 milligrams of sodium.) Most people greatly exceed these sodium guidelines.

How can I reduce my sodium intake?

What foods are high in sodium?

What else should I do to change my diet?

Comparison of Sodium in Foods

Meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish

Food: Milligrams (mg.) sodium
Fresh meat, 3 oz. cooked: Less than 90 mg
Shellfish, 3 oz: 100 to 325 mg
Tuna, canned, 3 oz: 300 mg
Lean ham, 3 oz.: 1,025 mg

Dairy products

Food: Milligrams sodium
*Whole milk, 1 cup: 120 mg
Skim or 1% milk, 1 cup: 125 mg
*Buttermilk (salt added), 1 cup: 260 mg
*Swiss cheese, 1 oz: 75 mg
*Cheddar cheese, 1 oz : 175 mg
Low-fat cheese, 1 oz.: 150 mg
*Cottage cheese (regular), 1/2 cup: 455 mg


Food: Milligrams sodium
Fresh or frozen vegetables, and no-salt-added canned (cooked without salt), 1/2 cup: Less than 70 mg
Vegetables canned or frozen (without sauce), 1/2 cup: 55-470 mg
Tomato juice, canned, 3/4 cup: 660 mg

Breads, cereals, rice and pasta

Food: Milligrams sodium
Bread, 1 slice: 110-175 mg
English muffin (half): 130 mg
Ready-to-eat, shredded wheat, 3/4 cup: Less than 5 mg
Cooked cereal (unsalted), 1/2 cup: Less than 5 mg
Instant cooked cereal, 1 packet: 180 mg
Canned soups, 1 cup: 600-1,300 mg

Convenience foods

Food: Milligrams sodium
Canned and frozen main dishes, 8 oz: 500-1,570 mg

*These can also be high in saturated fat, unless low-fat or reduced fat options are purchased.

*High in saturated fat



This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on: