If you deal with high blood pressure, or hypertension, then you probably already know that a healthy diet is one of the most effective ways to manage it. It’s important to consume whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Additionally, you should avoid things high in sugar and sodium, which is one of the top dietary factors linked to high blood pressure.
We understand that managing any chronic health condition can seem overwhelming and high blood sure is no different. To help know what to avoid, here’s a list of 11 foods that can increase blood pressure
1. Table Salt
If you are trying to follow a low-sodium diet, this seems like an obvious one, but it needs to be said. A lot of people reach for the salt shaker by habit when preparing meals and snacks, but it should be very limited or avoided altogether when dealing with high blood pressure. Find new spices and herbs to use to flavor dishes.
2. Certain Condiments and Sauces
When replacing table salt, do not fall into the trap of substituting certain condiments instead. Things like ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, and steak sauce all have a lot of sodium in them. Other places salt can be hidden is in pasta sauce and gravy. Familiarize yourself with different herbs and spices to add flavor to foods instead.
3. Foods with Saturated and Trans Fat
There are healthy fats you can have in your diet even with high blood pressure, but saturated and trans fats are not among them. Things fried in a lot of oils or meats that have a lot of fat are bad for both blood pressure and cholesterol.
Reduce or eliminate red meat consumption. If you do eat red meat, make sure you read labels and choose the leanest cuts possible.
If you consume a lot of dairy, switch to low-fat versions. And be careful of cheeses with high salt content.
4. Fried Food
Fried foods contain a lot of saturated fat and salt, both of which you should avoid when you have high blood pressure. Grilling, baking, and sautéing are all good alternatives to frying. Air-fryers have become popular and are a good option as long as you pay attention to the salt content of what you’re cooking in the first place. Any kind of breading or seasoning mixes should be low sodium.
5. Fast Food
If you’re following any kind of nutritional guidelines, fast food is a bad idea all-around. A lot of the food served at fast-food restaurants is processed and frozen, then cooked by frying or cooking in high-fat oils. Additionally, they are often heavily salted. Because these are foods that increase blood pressure, they should be avoided.
6. Canned, Frozen, and Processed Foods
These foods can be convenient, however, many of them contain large amounts of added salt to preserve flavor through the canning, packaging, or freezing process.
- Canned soups are top offenders. If you find yourself craving soup, consider making your own with a low sodium recipe or look for low and reduced-sodium canned options. This includes packaged broths.
- Tomatoes and tomato-based sauces also have a lot of added salt when they come in a can or jar. Low sodium varieties are available or use fresh tomatoes.
- A common culprit for high sodium among frozen food is frozen pizza. Frozen pizzas with thick crusts and lots of toppings are especially high in sodium.
- Frozen seafood and meats may also have added salt.
- Prepared food from the deli or refrigerated section of your local grocery store can also have his salt content, so read labels.
Bottom line is, if food is processed in some way, it usually involves adding some form of salt, which is no good for blood pressure.
7. Deli Meats and Cured Meats
Another food full of sodium is deli meat. Lunch meats are often preserved, cured or seasoned with salt, making them high in sodium. Cured meats like bacon are off-limits too.
8. Salted Snacks
Many crackers, chips, and even sweets like cookies, are not good options. Other things to look out for include jerky and nuts. Those might seem like healthier snacks because they are sources of protein and healthy fats (in certain nuts), but for those with high blood pressure, they can be bad news. Look for varieties with no or very little salt added. Another good option if you are craving a crunchy snack, is popping your own plain popcorn and adding (salt-free) spices to it yourself.
You should also avoid pickled foods, which are often full of salt as a result of the pickling process. Most pickling processes use a lot of salt in the brine mixture to kill bacteria, and the sodium sticks around after the pickling is done.
Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and soda all contain caffeine, which is known to increase blood pressure. People with hypertension should limit their caffeine intake. If you are a coffee lover, try switching to half-caff coffee, or decaf if you can’t give it up completely. There are also caffeine-free teas available and certain varieties of tea have very low amounts of caffeine naturally.
Small amounts of alcohol have been found to lower blood pressure, but drinking too much can increase it. Having more than three drinks in a sitting can spike blood pressure and habitual drinking can cause lasting blood pressure issues. Alcohol also interacts badly with certain blood pressure medication.
Along with the caffeine mentioned above, sodas are full of processed sugar and empty calories. Drinks with high sugar content are linked to increased rates of obesity for people of all ages. And people who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Women should limit added sugar to 24 grams per day and men should only have 36 grams per day at most, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
Make an Appointment
At Durham Nephrology we have been caring for patients dealing with kidney disease and high blood pressure for over 25 years. If you have concerns about your diet and want to make sure you are avoiding foods that increase blood pressure, call 919-477-3005 to make an appointment at our Durham office or 919-690-1035 to make an appointment at our Oxford office. You can also request an appointment online.