Weight, Calories, and Your Blood Pressure

As your body weight increases, your blood pressure can rise. This is simply because more body weight just means your heart needs to work harder to move you. In fact, being overweight can make you more likely to develop high blood pressure than if you are at your desirable weight. About 70% of adults in the United States are overweight. You can reduce your risk of high blood pressure by losing weight, thereby putting less strain on your heart.

Ways to Control Calories

If you're already trying to exercise and eat right, but you're still having trouble losing weight, the issue might be in the details. It is important to consume the appropriate amount of calories with a healthful balance to maintain a healthy weight. To help, read nutrition labels on food, and plan for success with sample menus and other heart-healthy recipes.

To lose weight, follow the DASH eating plan and try to reduce your total daily calories gradually. Talk with your Dietitian or Diabetes Educator before beginning any diet or eating plan.

General tips for reducing daily calories include:

  • Eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
  • Reduce the amount of meat that you eat while increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, or dry beans.
  • Substitute low-calorie foods, such as when snacking (choose fruits or vegetables instead of sweets and desserts) or drinking (choose plain or carbonated water instead of soda or juice), when possible.

Try this sample of a meal plan to help you get started.

Sample 1800 Calorie Menu


  • 1 cup old-fashioned cooked oatmeal* topped with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar for sweetener

Morning Snack

  • 1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup melon or papaya


  • Tuna salad made with:
    • 1/2 cup drained, unsalted water-packed tuna, 3 ounces
    • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup diced celery
    • Served on top of 2 1/2 cups romaine lettuce
  • 8 Melba toast crackers

Afternoon Snack

  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1 cup mixed berries with shredded mint leaves


  • Beef and vegetable kebabs, made with:
    • 3 ounces of beef, (around 1/2 cup raw)
    • 1 cup of peppers, onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice

Snack (anytime)

  • 1 cup light yogurt
  • 1 medium peach

*To further reduce sodium, don't add salt when cooking the oatmeal.

Tips for Lifelong Success

When changing lifestyle habits, it is normal to slip off track occasionally. Follow these tips to get you back on track.

  • Ask yourself why you got off track. Find out what triggered your sidetrack, and restart the DASH eating plan.
  • Don’t worry about a slip. Everyone slips, especially when learning something new. Remember that changing your lifestyle is a long-term process.
  • Don’t change too much at once. When starting a new lifestyle, try to avoid changing too much at once. Slow changes lead to success.
  • Break down the process. Break goals into smaller, simpler steps, each of which is attainable.
  • Write it down. keep track of what you eat and what you’re doing while you are eating. You may find that you eat unhealthy foods while watching television. If so, you could start keeping a healthier substitute snack on hand.
  • Celebrate success. Instead of eating out to celebrate your accomplishments, try a night at the movies, go shopping, visit the library or bookstore, or watch your favorite TV show.