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The Keto Diet and Blood Pressure: What Does the Research Say?

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  Published on May 23rd, 2020
  Reading time: 3 minutes
  Last modified April 15th, 2021
keto diet and blood pressure

It’s National High Blood Pressure Awareness Day!

The ketogenic diet can bring a myriad of health benefits as people replace heavy starches and sugars with healthy fats, proteins, and nutrient-dense lower carb foods. There are a lot of misconceptions about the effects of the ketogenic diet on heart health, so let’s discuss what the research says about the keto diet and blood pressure. You might be surprised to find out that studies show going keto might reduce blood pressure and minimize hypertension. [1].

 

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is a common condition where the long-term force of blood against the artery walls is too high. This can lead to problems like heart disease [2].

Blood pressure is measured by the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. Blood pressure gets higher as the arteries narrow and the heart pumps more blood. Some people have hypertension without any symptoms.

The risk of hypertension can be reduced with a ketogenic diet. Promising studies continue to unveil how a reduction in carbohydrates and an increase in healthy fats can benefit the cardiovascular system.

What is Hypotension?

Hypotension refers to low blood pressure. For some people, low blood pressure doesn’t cause any issues, but for others, abnormally low blood pressure or hypotension can lead to dizziness and fainting [3].

Low blood pressure can be the result of certain medical conditions and dehydration. Symptoms of low blood pressure include nausea, fatigue, and blurred vision.

What About the Keto Diet and Blood Pressure?

Studies show the ketogenic diet can have a positive impact on blood pressure. Many people find their blood pressure regulates and improves with the keto diet.

Research reveals carbohydrate restriction decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people who are overweight [4, 5]. In other studies, higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids effectively lowered blood pressure [6].

Blood pressure has also been shown to elevate sugar consumption [7]. The ketogenic diet reduces sugar consumption, instead of focusing on healthy nutrients, protein, and fat.

 

Keto-Friendly Foods that Help with Blood Pressure

Some keto-friendly foods are also helpful for blood pressure, such as chia seeds and salmon. Studies point to improvements in blood pressure and a delay in the development of high blood pressure with the consumption of salmon and omega-3 fatty acids [8].

Check out two of our popular salmon recipes to help regulate blood pressure and provide a source of those healthy, delicious fats!

 

Check out two of our popular chia seed recipes for a tasty pudding that can also benefit your health.

 

Has Keto Improved Your Blood Pressure?

Comment below and share with us how keto has positively transformed your health.

 

References

1) Ballard, K. D., Quann, E. E., Kupchak, B. R., Volk, B. M., Kawiecki, D. M., LuzFernandez, M., Seip, R. L., Maresh, C. M., Kraemer, W. J., … Volek, J. S. (2013). Dietary carbohydrate restriction improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, microvascular function, and cellular adhesion markers in individuals taking statins. Nutrition Research, 33(11), 905-912. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2013.07.022

2) Mayo Clinic. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

3) Mayo Clinic. Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20355465

4) Meckling, K. A., Gauthier, M., Grubb, R., & Sanford, J. (2002). Effects of a hypocaloric, low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, blood lipids, blood pressure, glucose tolerance, and body composition in free-living overweight women. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 80(11), 1095-1105. https://doi.org/10.1139/y02-140

5) Yancy Jr, W. S., Westman, E. C., McDuffie, J. R., Grambow, S. C., Jeffreys, A. S., Bolton, J., … Chalecki, A., (2010). A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet vs orlistat plus a low-fat diet for weight loss. Archives of Internal Medicine, 170(2), 136-145. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.492

6) Cabo, J., Alonso, R., & Mata, P. (2012). Omega-3 fatty acids and blood pressure. British Journal of Nutrition, 107, S195-S200. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114512001584

7) Preuss, H. G., Zein, M., MacArthy, P., Dipette, D., Sabnis, S., & Knapka, J. (1998). Sugar-induced blood pressure elevations over the lifespan of three substrains of wistar rats. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 17(1), https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.1998.10720453

8) Vikøren, L. A., Drotningsvik, A., Mwakimonga, A., Leh, S., Mellgren, G., & Gudbrandsen O. A. (2018). Diets containing salmon filet delay development of high blood pressure and hyperfusion damage in kidneys in obese zucker fa/fa rats. Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, 12(4), 294-302. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jash.2018.01.006

Discussion

  1. Stephanie says:

    Been keto for about a year now, this morning my blood pressure without any food or coffee was 91/53.

    1. Hi, Stephanie! That’s fantastic! Do you remember what your average blood pressure was before going keto? We’d love to know how it’s changed!

  2. Sammy Pratt says:

    I have only been on a keto diet for about 3 months now, and have lost a solid 20 lbs of fat in that time. From 190 to 170, male, 5’6″, age 69. But my blood pressure has increased from ~ 132/80 is to 143/90 in my ophmalmologist’s office this morning. She said she thinks I lost the weight too suddenly, and referred me to my primary care doctor … not a surprise, I had been noting the same changes in my monitor weekly at home. I’m a bit afraid when I see him he will tell me to stop.

    1. Hi, Sammy. That is rather odd! We would definitely recommend speaking to your primary care physician!

  3. Jane says:

    My blood pressure before keto was healthy and hovered around 120/80; however, I was very surprised today (9 months into my strict keto and essentially paleo venture) to find that it was 102/68 at the doctor’s office. Female, 57, 5’7 1/2″, now 135 pounds.

    1. Hi, Jane. Thank you for sharing your story and progress!

  4. Jackie says:

    Hello, I’ve been strict keto for 6 weeks and my blood pressure is 85/60 should I worry.
    Would like to loose another 15 pounds. I am 53 years old.
    I am very active.
    I do my 10k steps every day

    1. Hi, Jackie. We would recommend speaking with your physician. Hypotension, or low blood pressure, occurs < 90/60 mmHg.

  5. Susan says:

    I started the keto diet about a week ago. This morning my blood pressure was 168/87. It was like that a week ago. It hasn’t gone down one bit although I lost about 4 pounds which I really didn’t want to since I only weighed 118 before starting the diet. I basically wanted the health benefits. I’m so confused now. Does it take a while before it has a positive effect on blood pressure?

    1. Hi, Susan. Yes, it definitely takes longer than a week to see changes in blood pressure– and that’s with anything you try! It’ll take a few weeks to at least a month before you’ll see more drastic physiological changes.

  6. V. King says:

    I started Keto 3 weeks ago. I lost 7 lbs in the first week. My blood pressure went down so much my doctor told me to stop taking my blood pressure medicine. I gained all the weight back though. Even though I have followed the diet strictly using carb manager app. The reason for doing it was to loose weight. According to test strips I am in full ketosis. I am concerned about everything I’m reading about possible heart issues. Any advice on loosing weight?

    1. Hi, V. If your goal is weight loss, you do need to be in a calorie deficit. Make sure you are eating fewer calories than you are burning. Depending on how much you are eating, you might want to try lowering your calories a little. As far as heart issues, most of these claims are made from people ill-informed on the research dealing with how the ketogenic diet affects the heart. Check out our article here that goes into more detail: https://ketogenic.com/keto-and-cholesterol/

  7. Jeff aus says:

    I typically have blood pressure 140/111. I am on day 11 of healthy keto(eating salads wheat grass electrolytes) checking blood pressure past night (1 day after stopping carvididol) my blood pressure dropped to 85/75. I assumed it was a mistake so i tried multiple times and similar result. This morning it was a little higher but still really low. Not sure if i should be worried or not. Worth noting is my pulse rate seems to be higher as well

    1. Aimee Aristotelous says:

      Hi Jeff! This is certainly a question for your doctor–feel free to give us an update regarding what he/she says.

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