Can Meal Replacement Shakes Cause High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, known as hypertension, is a serious medical condition that affects one in four adults worldwide. It is mostly symptomless, which is what makes it so dangerous. But can meal replacement shakes cause high blood pressure? In this article, we will find out.

Unless your meal replacement shake is unusually high in sodium, there is nothing to suggest it can cause high blood pressure. In fact, meal replacement shakes can help to lower blood pressure. Finding a meal replacement shake with top-quality ingredients can be particularly helpful.

This article will take a look at the main causes of high blood pressure, it will look at reasons why people think that meal replacement shakes could be the cause, and will identify how meal replacement shakes could actually help you to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of hypertension.

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure (hypertension) is diagnosed when you have a systolic/diastolic score of 140/90. This indicates that your heart is working harder to push blood around the body (systolic – the higher number) and that there is significant resistance (diastolic – the lower number).

For reference, your ideal systolic/diastolic score, according to the NHS, should be anything between 90/60 and 120/80 [1].

High blood pressure, while common, should be taken very seriously as it can increase your likelihood of heart attacks and strokes. While high blood pressure is mostly symptomless, it can cause shortness of breath, headaches, and nosebleeds [2].

Common Causes of High Blood Pressure

There can be many causes of high blood pressure, but these causes all fall under several umbrella issues: Weight gain, poor dietary choices, a sedentary lifestyle, lots of stress, medication, insomnia, and chronic illness.

Weight Gain

Gaining weight has been linked with increased blood pressure since the 1930s, and the mechanism has been clearly established. Excess body fat can actually compress the kidneys, can affect sodium balance, and can cause insulin resistance which disrupts the sympathetic nervous system (again causing issues with sodium balance).

All of these factors directly affect blood pressure, but gaining weight can also affect blood pressure in a number of indirect ways. Increased inflammation, poor sleep quality, stress, and high cholesterol.


A diet that is very high in calories can lead to weight gain, as we looked at above, but in this section, we’re more focused on the types of food you are eating rather than whether you are in a calorie surplus or not.

Foods that are high in sodium can cause hypertension, particularly if you are already at risk. Foods that are very high in saturated or trans fats can increase blood pressure by increasing your cholesterol levels.

If your diet is high in junk food and highly processed foods, then you are at risk of hypertension as these foods are often high in sodium and saturated fat. High-fat meats can also be dangerous as they are high in saturated fats and sodium.

Caffeine and alcohol, when taken in excess, can also increase your risk of high blood pressure. But you would have to be drinking a lot of caffeine for it to pose a significant risk of causing hypertension.

Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle

Not exercising or staying active in any way can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure. You are not training your cardiovascular system regularly, and you are likely to be gaining weight due to a calorie surplus. An inactive lifestyle can also cause bad sleep, stress, and inflammation.


Stress can cause high blood pressure in the short term, but it may not lead to long-term high blood pressure. If you live a largely stress-free life and then have a stressful 30 minutes, your blood pressure is unlikely to be affected.

However, chronic stress, where you are highly stressed on a day-to-day basis, can absolutely lead to high blood pressure. Not only will it directly increase your stress levels, but it can affect your mood, your sleep quality, your appetite, and it can increase inflammation. All of which can contribute to increased blood pressure.


There are some medications that can increase blood pressure but are still used as the service they provide is of more importance. Of course, there is also medication that can lower your blood pressure.

Chronic Illness

As with the medication issue (above), some forms of chronic illness can increase your likelihood of hypertension.

Why People Worry That Meal Replacement Shakes Cause High Blood Pressure

There aren’t many people who worry that meal replacement shakes cause high blood pressure, but there are enough people that a response is justified. There are two potential reasons why this myth is believed.

  1. People associate any health problem with meal replacement shakes as they don’t trust the product. Many people tend to categorise foods as good or bad, and what makes them good or bad can be fairly arbitrary. For example, many people state that bread is bad, even though it has many health benefits. Meal replacement shakes are seen as bad by some people in the fitness sphere, despite their many health benefits.
  2. Older meal replacement shakes used to be high in sodium, which can cause high blood pressure if combined with a diet that is already high in sodium. But no meal replacement shake is going to cause high blood pressure if your regular diet contains normal sodium levels.

Can Meal Replacement Shakes Cause High Blood Pressure?

No. Meal replacement shakes are actually very good at lowering high blood pressure. This is thanks to their ingredients which are very healthy. But it is also because they are used to replace low-quality meals and high-calorie snacks.

Meal replacement shakes can help you to lose weight. They often contain ingredients that can help to improve your heart health and lower cholesterol. Provided your meal replacement shake comes from a reputable company, the only way it could possibly lead to increases in blood pressure is if you were to combine it with a calorie surplus diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

How a Good Meal Replacement Shake Can Help Improve Your Heart Health

Now that we know of the many reasons why someone can develop hypertension due to lifestyle factors, here are four ways in which a meal replacement shake can help to improve your heart health and lower your blood pressure.

Reason #1 Rolled Oats

Oats are high in fibre, healthy fats, and plant protein. They have been repeatedly linked with improved blood pressure in overweight people. A 2001 study on 43 adults found that a calorie-deficit diet that contains rolled oats led to greater decreases in systolic blood pressure than a standard calorie-deficit diet [3].

A 2002 study found that introducing oats into your diet can help to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension (high blood pressure) [4]. A 2016 study found that oats can help to reduce appetite by increasing satiety [5]. This demonstrates another mechanism by which oats can help to lower your blood pressure by reducing body fat.

Other studies have demonstrated that oats are highly effective at reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, a common cause of high blood pressure [6].

Adding oats to your diet can help you to avoid high blood pressure in a number of ways. Meal replacement shakes such as Rootana use oats as their main carbohydrate source for this exact reason. They also help to improve your gut health, digestion, and immune system, and they improve the taste and consistency of the shake.

Reason #2 Flaxseed

There are numerous studies that have found flaxseed to be highly effective at preventing high blood pressure and even reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension. A 2014 study found that taking flaxseed led to reductions in blood pressure in patients with hypertension [7].

Reason #3 Pea Protein

There are many weight loss benefits to a high-protein diet, but pea protein appears to be particularly effective at lowering blood pressure in people with hypertension. A 2011 study found that pea protein was able to lower blood pressure in hypertensive rats and humans [8].

Reason #4 Calorie-Controlled Diet

Meal replacement shakes aren’t necessarily used for weight loss, but when they are, they can be incredibly effective. A 2018 study found that those who followed a meal replacement shake diet not only lost weight but also saw reductions in blood pressure and blood glucose levels [9].

How Rootana Helps to Prevent High Blood Pressure

Rootana contains all of the ingredients mentioned in the previous section. It is rich in rolled oats and contains flaxseed and pea protein. It is also perfect for a calorie-controlled diet (if you require one) and helps you to replace low-quality high-calorie foods with a highly nutritious and inexpensive shake.


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