Fruit and veg

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Lower blood pressure by eating more fruit and vegetables

Lower blood pressure by eating more fruit and vegetables

Eating more fruit and vegetables has been proven to help lower blood pressure.

Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep your body in good condition.

They also contain potassium, which helps to balance out the negative effects of salt. This has a direct effect on your blood pressure, helping to lower it.

Eat at least 5 portions a day

To help lower blood pressure, adults should eat at least 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables per day. A portion is 80 grams, or roughly the size of your fist.

The following amounts represent a portion:

  • A dessert bowl of salad 
  • Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables 
  • Three heaped tablespoons of pulses (chickpeas, lentils, beans)
  • One medium-sized fruit (apple, orange, pear or banana) 
  • Two smaller fruits (plums, apricots, satsumas) 
  • One slice of a large fruit (melon, pineapple or mango) 
  • Two to three tablespoons of berries or grapes 
  • A glass (150ml) of fruit or vegetable juice 
  • One tablespoon of dried fruit

What counts as a portion

All fruit and veg counts whether it’s fresh, frozen or canned. However if it is canned try to check it is in natural juices or water and doesn’t have added sugar or salt.

Pulses, unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies, and vegetable juice all count towards your five a day total. However they only count as one portion no matter how much you eat or drink. A 30-40g portion of dried fruit also counts but as it is so high in sugar it is recommended you only eat dried fruit at mealtimes to minimise tooth decay.

Potatoes, yams, cassava and plantain are starchy foods and so do not count towards your 5-a-day, however sweet potatoes and other root veg such as turnips, parsnips and swedes do count. 

Tips to increase your fruit and vegetable intake

  • Add a handful of berries or stewed fruit to your cereal or have mashed banana or avocado and sliced tomato on your toast in the morning.
  • If you’re having eggs for breakfast add a side of grilled tomatoes, mushrooms or wilted spinach.
  • At lunch and dinner make sure you include a side salad or at least of two portions of veg.
  • Add salad to sandwiches and wraps.
  • Add grated or chopped vegetables and pulses to pasta sauces, soups and stews.
  • If making a shepherd’s pie or Bolognese replace some of the meat with lentils.
  • Snack on fruit and vegetable crudités during the day.

Get the most from your fruit and vegetables

  • Don’t buy fruit and vegetable dishes that come with sauces. They often contain a lot of fat, salt and sugar. 
  • Vary the types of fruit and vegetables you eat. Each has different health benefits and it will keep your meals interesting. By eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables, you will ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs.
  • Don’t add sugar to fruit or salt to vegetables when you cook or serve them.
  • Try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables as soon as possible. They will lose their nutrients over time, so if you want to store your ingredients for a while, it is best to freeze them or buy frozen packets.
  • Avoid leaving vegetables open to the air, light or heat if they have been cut. Always cover and chill them, but don't soak them because the vitamins and minerals can dissolve away.
  • Vegetables keep more of their vitamins and minerals if you lightly steam or bake them, instead of boiling or frying them.  
  • If you boil vegetables, use as little water as possible to help keep the vitamins and minerals in them.

More about a healthy blood pressure diet

Lowering blood pressure by eating more fruit and vegetables is just one part of a blood pressure friendly diet, there are a number of others that will help to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke:

Once it was obvious that my high blood pressure was here to stay, I decided to take action. I set about eating a more healthy diet

Read Judith's story

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