If you have high blood pressure, you can lower your blood pressure by eating a healthy diet.
A healthy diet emphasizes:
- lean protein
- whole grains
- low-fat dairy
- fruits and vegetables
Many foods and beverages can prevent you from lowering your blood pressure. Keep reading to learn about nine that you should limit or avoid.
Salt and sodium are villains when it comes to living with high blood pressure and heart disease. It is suggested that people with high blood pressure limit their daily sodium intake to just 1,500 milligrams (mg).
Around 75 percent of the sodium we eat in a day comes from packaged foods, not what they add at the table with a saltshaker. Some of the saltiest packaged foods include:
- deli meat
- frozen pizza
- vegetable juices
- canned soup
- canned or bottled tomato products
Processed deli and lunch meats can be real sodium bombs. These meats are often cured, seasoned, and preserved with salt. A 2-ounce serving of some lunch meats could contain 500 mg of sodium or more. If you have a heavier hand with the cold cuts, you’ll get even more sodium. Add bread, cheese, condiments, and pickles, and your simple sandwich can quickly become a sodium trap.
All pizzas can be a poor choice for people watching their sodium intake. The combination of cheese, cured meats, tomato sauce, and crust adds up to a lot of sodium. But frozen pizza is especially dangerous for people with high blood pressure.
To maintain flavor in the pizza once it’s been cooked, manufacturers often add a lot of salt. One serving of a frozen cheese or meat-and-cheese pizza can contain more than 700 mg of sodium, sometimes even more. The thicker the crust and the more toppings you have, the higher the sodium number climbs.
Preserving any food requires salt. This is because it stops the decay of the food and keeps it edible longer. However, salt can take even the most innocent cucumber and make it a sodium sponge.
The longer vegetables sit in canning and preserving liquids, the more sodium they can pick up. A whole dill pickle spear can contain as much as 390 mg of sodium. However, reduced-sodium options are available.
They’re simple and easy to prepare, especially when you’re crunched for time or not feeling well. However, canned soups are filled with sodium. Canned and packaged broths and stocks can be bad for blood pressure, too. Some soups can have almost 900 mg of sodium in just one serving, which is typically a 1/2 cup.
If you consume the entire can, you’ll be taking in more than 2,000 mg of sodium. Low- and reduced-sodium options are available. But a better option is to keep the salt in check by making your own soup from a low-sodium recipe.
Canned or Bottled Tomato Products
As a rule, tomato products with added salt are problematic for people with high blood pressure. Most canned tomato sauces, pasta sauces, and tomato juices are high in sodium. A 1/2-cup serving of classic marinara sauce can have 400 mg of sodium or more. A cup of tomato juice can come in at more than 600 mg of sodium.
You can often find low- or reduced-sodium versions of all of these items. For people looking to keep their blood pressure down, these alternatives, as well as fresh tomatoes that are rich in lycopene, are smart choices that have many heart health benefits.
You likely already know that excessive sugar intake has been linked to increased cases of weight gain and obesity. But did you know that high sugar intake is also linked to high blood pressure?
Sugar, especially sugar-sweetened drinks, has contributed to an increase in obesity in people of all ages. High blood pressure is more common in people who are overweight or obese.
It is recommended that women limit their added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams, per day. Men should restrict themselves to 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams, per day.
Chicken Skin and Packaged Foods
People with high blood pressure should reduce saturated fats and avoid trans fats. Items high in saturated fat include:
- chicken skin
- full-fat dairy
- red meat
Trans fats are found naturally in small amounts of fatty meats and dairy products. However, the biggest contributors of trans fats are packaged and prepared foods. These also typically contain high amounts of sugar and other low-fiber carbohydrates.
Trans fats are created in a process called hydrogenation, where liquid oils are infused with air to make a solid oil. Hydrogenated oils increase packaged foods’ shelf life and stability. Research shows that heart health worsens when fats are substituted for processed carbohydrates and sugar.
Consuming too many saturated and trans fats increases your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol. High LDL levels may make your high blood pressure worse and could eventually lead to the development of coronary heart disease. To reduce these risks, don’t increase your sugar intake. Also replace animal, saturated, and trans fats with plant fats, such as:
- olive oil