Managing Blood Pressure with a Heart-Healthy Diet

What are the benefits of heart-healthy eating?

Eating a heart-healthy diet is important to help manage your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and other health threats.

Get quality nutrition from healthy food sources

Try to eat a diet that's rich in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils


  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Sodium, or salt
  • Fatty and processed meats
  • Items with added sugar such as sugar-sweetened beverages

Be sure to work with the “chefs” in your household and plan for any dietary changes. When cooking at home, try heart-healthy recipes. When dining out, look for healthy options.

Coupe chop vegetables on cutting board

Read the labels.

When you read food labels, you can choose foods more wisely. Avoid foods that have saturated fat. These fats can raise your cholesterol. Eating foods high in sodium (salt) can increase blood pressure.

Get the fact sheet on understanding nutrition labels: English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)

Look for the Heart-Check mark.

It can be hard to know what is healthy at the grocery store. To make it easier, the American Heart Association created the Heart-Check mark. Products with this symbol meet the AHA criteria for a single serving for healthy people over age 2 for:

  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Sodium, or salt
  • Other nutritional requirements

Learn more about the Heart-Check Certification Program

The DASH eating plan

The DASH eating plan is designed to help you manage blood pressure. DASH means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It focuses on healthy food sources and also limits:

  • Red meat
  • Sodium (salt)
  • Sweets, added sugars and sugary beverages

The DASH eating plan(link opens in new window) is easy to follow, delicious and varied. It is proven to help lower blood pressure.

Access to healthy foods

If buying affordable, nutritious food in your neighborhood is challenging, consider:

  • Canned, dried or frozen fruits and vegetables. They are just as healthy as fresh ones and don't spoil as easily.
  • Low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned vegetables
  • Frozen vegetables that aren't seasoned or in sauces
  • Canned fruit in water, with its own juice, or light syrup
  • Canned or dried fruit with no added sugars
  • Powdered milk, also known as dry milk. It is made from liquid milk that has had the moisture removed through a drying process. The nutritional content of powdered milk is similar to liquid milk.

Get a fact sheet on following a heart-healthy diet:  English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF)

Video: 5 convenience store snacks that won't hurt your heart