Foods to Eat to Reduce High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Diet Recommendations to Reduce High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Priyanka Kalra (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

High Blood Pressure, or hypertension, is a prevalent condition affecting many expectant mothers. Characterized by blood pressure levels equal to or exceeding 140/90, hypertension often emerges during first-time pregnancies or when carrying multiple babies. Several factors contribute to its occurrence. Obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption are the typical causes of hypertension in pregnant women. Managing hypertension during pregnancy is crucial, as it can lead to complications such as preeclampsia. Regular monitoring, lifestyle adjustments, and medical supervision are essential to safeguard both the mother and the unborn child from potential risks associated with elevated blood pressure during this critical period of gestation. You’ll also get a glimpse into the diet to reduce high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Types of High Blood Pressure

Understanding the various types of high blood pressure is crucial for effective management and targeted treatment. This overview will delve into the primary classifications of hypertension, shedding light on the distinct characteristics and contributing factors associated with each type.

  • Chronic Hypertension – It is the high blood pressure developed before the pregnancy. It lasts for about 12 weeks or more after the delivery.
  • Gestational Hypertension – This type, also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension, develops during pregnancy, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and generally recedes with delivery.
  • Preeclampsia – This is a serious condition in pregnant women which is a repercussion of chronic and gestational hypertension. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, a woman would experience hypertension as well as protein in the urine. It can be fatal for the mother and baby if left untreated

The Role of Diet in Managing High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

Maintaining a healthy diet is paramount for managing high blood pressure during pregnancy, as it plays a pivotal role in maternal and fetal well-being. A balanced and nutritious diet of foods to control BP can contribute significantly to blood pressure regulation and reduce the risk of complications. Emphasizing nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains is crucial. Additionally, limiting sodium intake helps prevent fluid retention and supports stable blood pressure levels. Adequate hydration is also vital. Consulting with a healthcare professional to create a personalized dietary plan tailored to the unique needs of pregnancy and hypertension is essential for promoting a safe and healthy gestational journey.

Foods to Control High Blood Pressure While Pregnant

A balanced and healthy diet is the only solution to fight high blood pressure in expectant mothers. You can include the following foods to lower high blood pressure during pregnancy:

1. Foods With Sources of Fatty Acid

Foods that are rich in essential fatty acids help to fight hypertension. You must include a variety of nuts, seeds and fruits in your diet. For example:

  • Chia seed
  • Avocado
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin nuts

Some oils that contain essential fatty acids in huge amounts are:

  • Flax-seed oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Fish oil

You can also have oily fish like salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. Remember to avoid food items with added salt.

Foods with Source of Fatty Acid

2. Foods Rich in Calcium & Magnesium

Your high blood pressure pregnancy diet must have plenty of calcium and magnesium. They not only reduce but also prevent hypertension in pregnant women.

Calcium and magnesium are found in abundance in green leafy vegetables like:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Collard greens

You can also include other vegetables like:

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrot
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Onion
  • Sweet potato
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Garlic     

Different varieties of fruits should also be eaten:

  • Pears
  • Apricots
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate

Foods Rich in Calcium & Magnesium

3. Vitamin D Supplement

Hypertension can occur as a result of a deficiency of Vitamin D in pregnant women. Foods that contain Vitamin D are:

  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Beef Liver
  • Mackerel, tuna and salmon
  • Others foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as orange juice, soy milk and some dairy products and cereals

We all know that sunshine is a good source of Vitamin D. However, food and sunshine cannot meet the body’s requirement for adequate Vitamin D. Therefore, pregnant women are recommended to take Vitamin D supplements regularly. Always consult your doctor before you so.

Vitamin D food sources

4. Whole Grains

Every day, you must eat three-four portions of whole grains like:

  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Rye
  • Quinoa

These whole grains are rich in soluble fibre that control hypertension. They also help in reducing the need for medicines to treat high blood pressure.

Whole Grains

5. Fermented Milk Products

Fermented milk products have some bacterial strains that can lower high blood pressure. It is advisable to incorporate products such as:

  • Natural yoghurt
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese

You must have one or two portions of these fermented milk products daily.

Fermented Milk Products

Foods to Avoid While Pregnant if You Have High Blood Pressure

Maintaining a careful and health-conscious diet is crucial for pregnant individuals with high blood pressure. Certain foods can exacerbate hypertension and pose risks during pregnancy. This guide highlights specific foods that should be avoided to effectively manage blood pressure levels during this critical period.

1. Excessive Salt Intake

High sodium content can lead to fluid retention, raising blood pressure levels.

2. Processed Foods

Processed foods often contain hidden salts and unhealthy additives that can contribute to hypertension.

3. Caffeine

Excessive caffeine intake may lead to increased blood pressure; moderation is key.

4. High-Fat Dairy Products

Opt for low-fat alternatives to manage cholesterol and blood pressure.

5. Deli Meats

Processed meats contain high sodium levels and should be limited.

6. Canned Soups

These may contain elevated sodium levels; choose low-sodium options.

7. Sugary Snacks

High sugar intake can contribute to weight gain and potentially worsen hypertension.

8. Fatty Fish With Mercury

Limit mercury-rich fish, as excessive intake can harm fetal development.

9. Alcohol

Avoid alcohol consumption, as it can elevate blood pressure and pose risks to the developing baby.

10. Licorice

Certain compounds in licorice may affect blood pressure; limit consumption.

Dieting Tips for Women With High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

Maintaining a well-balanced diet is of utmost importance for pregnant women dealing with high blood pressure. A mindful approach to nutrition can contribute significantly to the management of blood pressure levels and promote a healthier pregnancy. This guide offers practical tips for women navigating the delicate balance of pregnancy and hypertension. 

  • Hydrate Adequately: Ensure sufficient water intake to support overall health and aid in blood pressure regulation.
  • Emphasize Whole Foods: Prioritize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins for essential nutrients.
  • Limit Sodium Intake: Reduce the consumption of high-sodium foods to mitigate fluid retention and lower blood pressure.
  • Choose Low-Fat Dairy: Opt for low-fat dairy options to manage cholesterol levels and support cardiovascular health.
  • Monitor Caffeine Intake: Limit caffeine consumption to moderate levels, as excessive intake may impact blood pressure.
  • Include Potassium-Rich Foods: Incorporate potassium-rich foods like bananas and oranges, known for their blood pressure-lowering properties.
  • Opt for Lean Proteins: Choose lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, and legumes to support heart health.
  • Manage Weight Gain: Strive for healthy weight gain during pregnancy through balanced nutrition and regular, doctor-approved physical activity.
  • Consult With Healthcare Professionals: Regularly consult with healthcare providers to monitor blood pressure levels and adjust dietary plans accordingly.

The key to fighting hypertension during pregnancy is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The high blood pressure pregnancy diet must be low on sodium and fats and low salt intake. A healthy diet of foods to lower blood pressure that includes whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables can help solve your dilemma about what to eat to reduce high blood pressure during pregnancy. Steer clear from unhealthy lifestyle choices like alcohol and smoking and always stay active. Now that you know what to eat to reduce high blood pressure during pregnancy, these measures will only help you ensure a safe, healthy and smooth pregnancy.

References/Resources:

1. Ford. N, Cox. S, Ko. J, Ouyang. L, et al.; Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy and Mortality at Delivery Hospitalization — United States, 2017–2019; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7117a1.htm?s_cid=mm7117a1_w

2. Braunnthal. S, Brateanu. A; Hypertension in pregnancy: Pathophysiology and treatment; Sage Journals; https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2050312119843700; April 2019

3. Bazzano. L, Green. T, Harrison. T, Reynolds. K; Dietary Approaches to Prevent Hypertension (Current Hypertension Reports); Springer Link; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11906-013-0390-z; October 2013

4. Tsuboi. N, Sasaki. T, Haruhara. K; Dairy intake and the risk of incidental hypertension; Hypertension Research; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41440-022-00966-5; June 2022

5. Allen. T, Bhatia. H, Wood. A, Momin. S, Allison. M; State-of-the-Art Review: Evidence on Red Meat Consumption and Hypertension Outcomes (American Journal of Hypertension); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10060708/; August 2022

6. Facts About Hypertension; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

7. High Blood Pressure; Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms; https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure

Also Read:

Low BP during Pregnancy
Foods You Should Avoid Eating in Pregnancy
Natural Remedies to Manage High BP While Pregnant

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