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Fruit and vegetables and your blood pressure

 

Fruit and vegetables help to lower blood pressure, plus they’re full of vitamins, minerals and fibre which keep your body healthy.

Find out why they’re so good for you and how you can get more into your day.

 

How do fruits and vegetables help to lower your blood pressure?

Fruit and veg are an essential part of a healthy diet, helping to stave off numerous health problems including heart disease, stroke, some cancers and osteoporosis (brittle bones).

Fruit and veg contain potassium, a mineral which is essential for keeping your body ticking over and helps to lower your blood pressure. Eating fruit and veg directly counters the effect of salt, which contains sodium, which raises your blood pressure. 

They’re rich in different vitamins and minerals which keep your body healthy, plus they’re low in calories and high in fibre which helps with digestion and heart health.

 

Eat at least five portions a day

Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day to keep your blood pressure in check.


What counts as a portion?

A portion is 80g, which is roughly a handful.

The following amounts count as a portion:

  • a small bowl of salad 
  • three heaped tablespoons of vegetables 
  • three heaped tablespoons of pulses such as chickpeas, lentils or beans
  • one medium-sized fruit, for example, one apple, orange, pear or banana 
  • two smaller fruits, for example plums, apricots and satsumas
  • one slice of a large fruit, such as 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

A little is better than none

Don’t be put off if eating 5-a-day seems daunting. Even a little fruit and veg is better than none, and adding 2-3 portions to what you’re eating now can make a real difference to your health.

Have a look at the tips below to see how eating more fruit and veg can be easier than you might think.

 

What fruit and vegetables help to lower blood pressure?

All fruit and veg count towards your 5-a-day, whether they’re fresh, dried, frozen or canned. Go for a variety to get the full range of nutrients. 

Canned fruit and veg – choose options in natural juices or water rather than syrup, and without any added sugar or salt.

Juice and smoothies – unsweetened fruit juice, smoothies and vegetable juice all count, but only as one portion no matter how much you drink. Because they are high in calories without filling you up, and the sugar can damage your teeth.

Dried fruit – A 30-40g portion of dried fruit also counts, but as they’re high in sugar, it’s best to only eat them at mealtimes to minimise tooth decay.

Pulses – beans, peas and lentils all count and are a good source of protein and fibre, but they only count as one portion.

Root veg – potatoes, yams, cassava and plantain are considered starchy foods so they don’t count towards your 5-a-day, but sweet potatoes and other root veg such as turnips, parsnips and swedes do. 


How to eat more fruit and veg

It can seem challenging to get five portions into your day, here’s how you can do it simply without breaking the bank.

Breakfast

  • Add a handful of berries to your cereal, you can buy them frozen.
  • Stir some stewed or dried fruit into your porridge.
  • Go for a mashed banana or avocado with sliced tomato on your toast in the morning.
  • Try a tropical fruit salad with yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts or muesli stirred in.
  • If you’re having eggs for breakfast, add a side of grilled tomatoes, mushrooms or wilted spinach.
  • Make a smoothie with a plain yoghurt and frozen berries – simply blend everything together.

Lunch

  • Add salad to sandwiches and wraps. Try tuna with tomatoes and red onion, chicken with avocado and salad leaves, or red peppers with mozzarella cheese and rocket.
  • Add extra vegetables to your soups. Mushrooms, beans, peas and leeks are all good options.

Dinner

  • Add a side salad to whatever you’re eating. Go for balsamic vinegar to avoid high calorie dressings.
  • Add some extra vegetables and pulses to pasta sauces, stews and casseroles. Broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, peas, carrots and kidney beans all work well.
  • If you’re making a shepherd’s pie or spaghetti Bolognese, replace some of the meat with lentils and add lots of veg.
  • Try a bean chili or burrito instead of a meaty Mexican meal.
  • Roast a selection of vegetables when you would normally stick with potatoes. Carrots, onions, squash and sweet potato are a perfect combination for a Sunday roast.

Snack

  • Snack on fruit and vegetable crudités during the day.
  • A banana milkshake with plain yoghurt is filling and delicious.
  • Go for oatcakes or crackers topped with peanut butter and apple slices.

 

Get the most from your fruit and veg

  • If you buy fruit and vegetable dishes that come with sauces, check the label and compare products. They can contain a lot of fat, salt and sugar
  • Eat lots of different types of fruit and vegetables. Each has different nutrients and health benefits, giving your body everything it needs, and it will keep your meals interesting.
  • Leave off the sugar when you eat fruit, choose ones that you like as they are instead.
  • Avoid adding salt to vegetables when you cook them, use other flavours like lemon or orange and garlic instead.
  • Try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables while they’re still fresh. They lose their nutrients over time, so if you like to store them for a while go for frozen or tinned instead.
  • Avoid leaving vegetables open to air, light or heat after you’ve cut them because they will start losing some vitamins. Cover and chill them until you’re ready to cook or eat them, but don't soak them because the vitamins and minerals can dissolve away.
  • Lightly steam or bake your vegetables instead of boiling or frying them, and use as little water as possible, they will hold onto more of their vitamins and minerals.  

 

Read more

In 2017 a major new study found that the more fruit and veg you eat, the lower your risk of serious health problems. Find out more.

 

 

 

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