Having high blood pressure does not necessarily mean a person has to eliminate specific foods from their diet. Rather than trying to cut these out, a person should focus on moderation and finding healthy substitutes for their favorite snacks.
About 45% of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.
The right diet can help a person control their blood pressure levels.
In this article, we present 50 foods and drinks that could contribute to high blood pressure, and we list some foods a person can include in their diet. We also provide some recipe ideas.
Sodium can elevate blood pressure. Many people eat too much sodium without realizing it.
Processed and fast foods usually contain excessive amounts of sodium, often more than the 2,300 milligramsTrusted Source a person should consume per day.
It is advisable to check nutrition labels and be aware that even foods people tend to consider healthy, such as vegetable juice, may be high in sodium.
Examples of foods with high levels of sodium include:
- rolls and bread
- cold cuts and cured meats
- canned soup
- tacos and burritos
Sugary food offers few health benefits and raises a person’s risk of unintentional weight gain. It may also contribute to high blood pressure.
A 2014 study suggests sugary foods may increase blood pressure even more than salt. The study mentions foods containing high fructose corn syrup as a factor that can raise blood pressure.
The following are examples of foods that may contain high fructose corn syrup:
- processed desserts
- prepackaged meals
- granola bars or other nutrition bars
- peanut butter
A person should check the packaging on these foods to ensure they are choosing products free from high fructose corn syrup.
Red meat can raise a person’s blood pressure. The process of metabolizing red meat in the body may also release compounds that elevate blood pressure even more.
The following are all red meats:
A person should try to limit red meats as much as possible or choose leaner cuts. The redder the meat in color, the more likely it is to increase blood pressure levels.
While having the occasional sugary beverage can be OK, drinking lots of sugar-sweetened drinks may raise blood pressure.
Moreover, many sugary drinks also have caffeine in them, which can elevate blood pressure even more.
Sugary drinks that may contain caffeine or high fructose corn syrup can include sodas and fruit juices.
Alcohol also contains lots of empty calories. Consuming it may cause unintentional weight gain or replace healthier meal options.
The AHA advises that males limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day and that females have no more than one drink daily.
A person looking to lower their blood pressure or reduce their risk of high blood pressure should limit their intake of saturated fats.
For most people, this means that no more than 5–6% of daily calories should come from saturated fats, which can be present in sweets and baked goods.
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Examples of foods containing saturated fats include:
- desserts, such as chocolate, toffee, cakes, puddings, biscuits, and pastries and pies
- processed meat, including sausages, burgers, bacon, and kebabs
- cooking fats, such as butter, lard, ghee, dripping, margarine, goose fat, or suet
- oils, including coconut oil and cream and palm oils
- full-fat dairy products, such as cream, milk, yogurt, crème fraiche, and cheese
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Packaged foods that might seem healthy, such as vegetable- and meat-based meals, may get much of their flavor from high levels of sodium.
It is advisable to avoid these foods as much as possible or check nutrition labels and choose only those products that have a relatively low sodium content.
A person with high blood pressure does not need to avoid all condiments. However, it is important to check the label, as some products can contain high amounts of sugar or sodium.
It is also important not to rely on taste, as even condiments that do not taste salty may be high in sodium.
Examples of condiments that may contain high amounts of salt or sugar include:
- chili sauce
- soy sauce
- salad dressings
A person can check the packaging and replace condiments they often use with products that are low in salt, sugar, or both.
Caffeine can temporarily elevate blood pressure, causing very high blood pressure readings.
People with a history of dangerously high blood pressure may need to contact a doctor to discuss decreasing or eliminating their caffeine intake.
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Eating a varied diet full of nutrient-dense foods can help reduce high blood pressure. Some foods worth includingTrusted Source in the diet are:
- whole grains
- fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, avocados, berries, and citrus fruits
- lean meats, including grilled chicken, chicken breast, and fish
- other protein sources, such as lentils, nuts, quinoa, and tofu
Consider replacing processed foods with heart-healthy alternatives. For example, instead of a sugary snack, choose some fruit.
It is also better to opt for carbonated or flavored water rather than soda. People can also try substituting condiments with cracked pepper and a jalapeno.
Whew… this list is a real eye-opener! Which food(s) have you/ are you learning to live without? #45 – Processed and prepackaged foods is a BIG deal for me! Smh I’m working on it, though – little-by-little.
If you are working on eliminating any of these foods – or have and could share some tips and advice – please leave your comment below. Thanks! XO
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