Beyond Sodium: Exploring Dietary Factors That Affect Blood Pressure

Aug 02, 2023

According to a 2019 CDC report, about 47% of US adults are affected by high blood pressure; to make it worse,24%are unaware of this situation. [1] Persistent high blood pressure makes a person prone to heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications. [2]

For decades, the focus on managing blood pressure has revolved around sodium intake, but did you know that it's not just about cutting back on sodium? Recent research suggests other crucial dietary factors are important in regulating blood pressure.

Today we will explore 5 key dietary factors beyond sodium that can impact blood pressure and how making informed dietary choices can contribute to better blood pressure management.

Why is sodium the Main Culprit Behind Hypertension?

When it comes to managing blood pressure, sodium often takes the spotlight. Previous studies have told that large amount of sodium in diet causes hypertension.

It is because sodium attracts water, causing the volume of blood to increase and putting extra strain on the heart and blood vessels.

It's essential to watch your sodium intake for a healthy heart. The American Heart Association advises keeping it under 2,300 milligrams daily, about one teaspoon of salt. If you have high blood pressure, aiming for lower levels, around 1,500 milligrams per day is even better. [3] 

5 Dietary Factors Related To Blood Pressure

Besides sodium, several other dietary factors can affect blood pressure. Let's explore five of these lesser-known influencers.

1. Low Potassium Intake Increases Blood Pressure:

The relationship between potassium and blood pressure is complex yet crucial. This mineral plays a significant role in balancing the level of sodium in blood.

When potassium levels are insufficient, the body may retain excess sodium, increasing blood volume and elevated blood pressure. A 2020 meta-analysis suggested that adequate potassium intake helps counteract sodium's harmful effects, and reduces the BP.[4]

According to the WHO's new guidelines, adults should take at least 3500 to 4700 milligrams of potassium daily. [5] 

2. Low Magnesium Intake Increases Blood Pressure:

Magnesium is an essential mineral that takes part in more than 300 chemical reactions in your body, including those that help regulate BP. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine has shown the positive outcomes of magnesium supplementation in hypertensive patients. [6]

Generally, adult men should aim for around 400 to 420 milligrams, while adult women should aim for 310 to 320 milligrams of magnesium daily. Foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dark leafy greens are great sources of magnesium.

3. Reduced Calcium Intake Increases Blood Pressure

Calcium is well-known for promoting strong bones and teeth, but its influence on blood pressure should not be overlooked. A 2022 study has shown that calcium-rich diets may help lower blood pressure levels, particularly among individuals with hypertension. [7]

While the link between calcium and blood pressure is established, striking a balance is essential, as excessive calcium intake may have adverse effects. Most adults' recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of calcium ranges from 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams. 

4. Diet Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduces Blood Pressure:

Recent research suggests omega-3s can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiovascular function. [8]

Incorporating omega-3-rich foods into the diet can benefit individuals looking to manage their blood pressure effectively. For those who struggle to consume sufficient omega-3s in their diet, supplementation may be considered under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

5. Fibrous Foods Regulate Blood Pressure:

Dietary fiber is known for helping with digestion, but it also regulates blood pressure and promotes heart health. Soluble fibers bind to cholesterol and reduce its absorption, leading to potential improvements in blood pressure and heart health.

Experts recommend that adults aim for at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day from a combination of soluble and insoluble sources. By incorporating fiber-rich foods into their diet, individuals can support blood pressure management and promote overall gastrointestinal health.

Managing Hypertension with DASH Diet

DASH stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension." It's a well-studied eating plan that aims to lower blood pressure. The key idea is to eat foods low in sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol while focusing on lean proteins, fibers and low-fat dairy products. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the DASH diet in reducing blood pressure levels, often comparable to the results achieved through medication. [9]

Follow these guidelines to add DASH diet into your daily routine:

1.Eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim for about 4-5 servings of each per day. These colorful foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that support heart health.

2.Swap out processed snacks with healthier options like nuts or seeds. These snacks provide essential nutrients without raising your blood pressure.

3.Choose lean options for proteins. East foods such as poultry or fish, instead of fatty cuts of meat. Opt for whole grains over refined ones like white bread or rice.

4.Be mindful of your salt intake. Flavor your meals with herbs and spices instead of relying on salt for taste. Gradually reduce the salt you add during cooking or at the table until you no longer rely on it.

This eating approach is beneficial for individuals with hypertension and serves as a preventive strategy for those looking to maintain healthy blood pressure.


Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level is important for your overall well-being and to lower the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). By focusing on the above mentioned dietary factors and adopting a balanced approach to nutrition, you can make meaningful changes to your diet that positively impact blood pressure.

Moreover, be mindful of your food choices and make conscious efforts towards creating a heart-healthy eating pattern rooted in the DASH principles and other beneficial dietary factors mentioned above – we can support long-term cardiovascular health while minimizing the risk of developing hypertension or complications associated with high blood pressure.


1.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, July 6). Facts about hypertension. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2.Wu, C. Y., Hu, H. Y., Chou, Y. J., Huang, N., Chou, Y. C., & Li, C. P. (2015). High Blood Pressure and All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortalities in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Medicine, 94(47), e2160.

3.Shaking the salt habit to lower high blood pressure. (2023, June 1).

4.Filippini, T., Naska, A., Kasdagli, M. I., Torres, D., Lopes, C., Carvalho, C., Moreira, P., Malavolti, M., Orsini, N., Whelton, P. K., & Vinceti, M. (2020). Potassium Intake and Blood Pressure: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of the American Heart Association, 9(12), e015719.

5.World Health Organization. (n.d.). Who issues new guidance on dietary salt and potassium? World Health Organization.

6.Houston M. (2011). The role of magnesium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Journal of clinical hypertension (Greenwich, Conn.), 13(11), 843–847.

7.Cormick, G., Ciapponi, A., Cafferata, M. L., Cormick, M. S., & Belizán, J. M. (2022). Calcium supplementation for prevention of primary hypertension. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 1(1), CD010037.

8.Mohebi-Nejad, A., & Bikdeli, B. (2014). Omega-3 supplements and cardiovascular diseases. Tanaffos, 13(1), 6–14.

9.Soltani, S., Shirani, F., Chitsazi, M. J., & Salehi-Abargouei, A. (2016). The effect of dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet on weight and body composition in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Obesity reviews: an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 17(5), 442–454. 


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