We talk a lot about what you’re supposed to eat if you have high blood pressure, but not enough about what NOT to eat with high blood pressure.
You hear about the super foods, the diets, and the vitamins you should be taking in order to regulate your blood pressure, but what about the food that should be blacklisted and banned from your kitchen?
Here, we break down food by the contents that make it harmful, and we make sure to spell it all out for you.
Sodium is Dangerous with or without High Blood Pressure
Sodium is one of the main culprits that contributes to high blood pressure. Sodium forces the body to retain additional fluid. When your body retains more fluid, there is more pressure placed on the walls of blood vessels, constricting them and in turn reducing blood flow.
Many foods containing sodium rely on it less for flavoring and more as a preservative to give food products a longer shelf life.
Foods that are notoriously high in sodium include:
1) Sauces: not only is sodium used in sauces as flavoring, it’s also used as a preservative.
2) Packaged Baked Goods: Pre-packaged baked goods rely on salt as a preservative to extend shelf life, since they aren’t freshly baked and sold the same day they are made. These include cookies, donuts, snack cakes, bread, rolls, etc.
3) Soup: Canned soups make a delicious and easy meal, but they’ll sneak up on your sodium count for the day. Be sure to either make your own or search for low-sodium options at the grocery store.
4) Deli Meat: Deli meat is preserved in salt, especially the pre-packaged kind. To avoid excess sodium on your sandwich, get your sandwich meat freshly sliced at the deli counter of your grocery store.
5) Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds can make a great and healthy snack, but part of what makes them so delicious is they’re all coated with a fine layer of salt. When choosing your snacks, be sure to find a brand that offers “lightly salted” or “natural/no salt” options.
6) Chips, Crackers, Pretzels: Your favorite, flavorful chips pack a punch because they’re coated in salt to satisfy those salty, crunchy cravings temporarily.
Sodium is one of the easiest elements of your diet to overdo because it’s hidden in so many different foods. If you’re blood pressure is high, be sure you’re checking labels as you shop to avoid overdoing the sodium in your diet.
Trans Fats and Saturated Fats Should be Eliminated
All fats are NOT created equal. Heart-health experts know Omega-3s, polyunsaturated fats, and monosaturated fats are, in fact, GOOD for your heart and good for your health. It’s not the amount of total fat you consume daily, it’s the amount of the TYPE of fat you consume daily that you should be concerned with.
Trans and saturated fats are terrible for your health and blood pressure because they raise the cholesterol levels in your blood, increasing blood pressure and raising your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Infamous foods that contain saturated or trans fats are:
1) Certain Cuts of Meat: This most often refers to red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork. Keeping consumption of red meat to a minimum is always good, but if you do purchase it, make sure it is a very lean cut.
2) Commercially-baked goods
3) Shortening, butter, margarine
4) Foods fried in trans and saturated fat
5) Whole fat dairy foods
Sugar, Potentially as Bad for Your Blood Pressure as Sodium
Whether you have heart problems, including high blood pressure, or not, added sugar will never add to improved health.
This is because excess sugar causes metabolic dysfunction, since it is metabolized similarly to alcohol, and does a lot of damage to the liver and is quite readily metabolized into fat.
When your body contains more sugar than it needs or can metabolize, it must find some way to store it and the way it stores it is, you guessed it, by turning it to fat.
This is the same fat that settles around our organs (visceral fat) becomes bad cholesterol, and causes problem after problem in the cardiovascular system. Here’s our list of common sugary foods you’ll want to avoid:
1) Canned or processed fruit: used as a preservative, the syrup in canned and processed fruit adds excessive sugar on top of the fructose that is naturally-occurring in fruit.
2) Baked goods and pre-packaged desserts
3) Cereal: So much added sugar here! be sure to read labels, and go for a whole-grain, fiber-rich cereal.
4) Baking Mixes: Companies that produce baking mixes are sneaking sugar into your favorite muffin or brownie mix! This is why it’s best to do your own baking so you have total control over your ingredients.
5) Beverages: Beer, wine, cocktails, soda, fruit juice and more. Beverages like this quickly increase your daily sugar count because they are empty calories — meaning, they aren’t filling, but they add to your waistline nonetheless. Sugary beverages are the biggest obstacle for millions of people with high blood pressure when it comes to cutting out excess sugar.
6) Candy: This one is a no-brainer. The whole purpose of candy’s existence is to be a sugary fix for a sweet tooth. However, candy adds no nutritional value to your diet.
For more tips on heart healthy (and blood pressure-friendly) eating, read How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally.