7 Foods That Affect Blood Pressure

Many foods can affect blood pressure — some (like the weak stimulants found in coffee and tea) for a short period of time, others (like salt) over a longer period. Knowing which foods to eat more of — and which to avoid — can make a difference for your heart health. Each of the nutrients and foods listed below has been shown to influence blood pressure.



French fries sprinkled with salt
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Though there is disagreement about the precise role that salt plays in high blood pressure, there is no question that blood pressure and salt intake are related.

Strong evidence suggests that some people may be abnormally sensitive to salt and that salt consumption may place them at higher risk for heart disease.

Being vigilant about your salt intake may help to lower your risk of high blood pressure or make existing ​high blood pressure easier to control.



Woman with coffee in her hand
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Caffeine is a stimulant found in tea, coffee, cocoa, and some sodas. It excites the central nervous system and increases heart rate, metabolic rate, and blood pressure. These effects, though, are only temporary, and the long-term effects of caffeine consumption may surprise you.

Many studies have shown that habitual coffee drinking is not linked to hypertension and in many cases, regularly consuming coffee may, in fact, lessen your risk of high blood pressure.



Groups with beers
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While moderate amounts of alcohol are associated with an improvement in cardiovascular outcomes, consuming more than two drinks per day is associated with more hypertension and a higher risk overall mortality.


Folic Acid

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Folate—a B vitamin found in some vegetables, citrus fruit and beans—and folic acid (found in most cereal and bread in the US) may help lower blood pressure (and prevent the onset of high blood pressure) in doses of about 800 micrograms per day—twice the recommended daily allowance. The catch? The positive effects of folic acid have only been demonstrated in women. A 2015 study found that folic acid supplementation increased vasodilation (the opening of blood vessels that allows blood to flow more freely) in older adults, but not younger adults.



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Potassium is an important electrolyte found in potatoes, yogurt, fish, avocados and winter squash. Many Americans don't get the recommended amount in their diets (4,700 mg/day for adults). Not consuming enough potassium leads to increased blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke. Potassium likely works by changing the way that blood vessels respond to certain chemical messages in the body, helping to keep them supple and relaxed. Eating a variety of whole foods — including fruits and vegetables, fish and dairy products — is important for preventing and managing high blood pressure.



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Magnesium is a nutrient found in many foods, such as whole grains, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables, as well as in supplements, plays a role in regulating blood pressure.

While magnesium supplements seem to have just a small (though significant) effect on blood pressure, diets high in magnesium seem to lower blood pressure.

A diet high in magnesium (such as the ​DASH diet), also tends to be high in other blood pressure-lowering nutrients, such as potassium and calcium. 


Vitamin D

Milk in a bottle
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Vitamin D is an important nutrient that regulates many metabolic functions in the body. We mostly stock our supplies of D through sunlight, although it's also found in some foods, such as fatty fish and milk.

It helps control the level of calcium in the blood and contributes to the regulation of blood pressure. The data is unclear about what — if any — protection can be gained from vitamin D, but there is strong evidence showing that a deficiency of vitamin D can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, chances are you might not be getting enough D and may need to supplement.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Frisoli TM, Schmieder RE, Grodzicki T, Messerli FH. Salt and hypertension: is salt dietary reduction worth the effort? Am J Med. 2012;125(5):433-439. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.10.023

  3. Flueck JL, Schaufelberger F, Lienert M, Schäfer Olstad D, Wilhelm M, Perret C. Acute Effects of Caffeine on Heart Rate Variability, Blood Pressure and Tidal Volume in Paraplegic and Tetraplegic Compared to Able-Bodied Individuals: A Randomized, Blinded Trial. PLoS One. 2016;11(10):e0165034. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165034

  4. Huo Y, Li J, Qin X, et al. Efficacy of folic acid therapy in primary prevention of stroke among adults with hypertension in China: the CSPPT randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2015;313(13):1325-1335. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.2274

  5. Seth A, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Kamensky V, et al. Potassium intake and risk of stroke in women with hypertension and nonhypertension in the Women’s Health Initiative. Stroke. 2014;45(10):2874-2880. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.006046

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By Craig O. Weber, MD
Craig O. Weber, MD, is a board-certified occupational specialist who has practiced for over 36 years.