High blood pressure, or hypertension, increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. That’s why you should manage it properly and on time. This health problem can interfere with your daily activities, and be knowing what causes it may prevent it from worsening.
If your readings are higher than 140 over 90 mmHg, you have high blood pressure. Usually, regular physical activity, low-sodium diet, reduced alcohol, and tobacco use, and changes in the diet can help manage hypertension.
In fact, your diet directly affects your blood pressure levels. Knowing what to eat and what to avoid can help control your blood pressure and prevent further complications.
So, here are the worst foods for hypertension you should stay away from.
Ten Foods to Avoid and Their Alternatives
Most fruit-flavored drinks and sodas contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as an added sugar. But, the journal Open Heart published a study which claims that consuming 75g of HFCS on a daily basis increases the risk of hypertension by 30%.
In fact, the researchers from the study say sugar increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in many ways.
Alternative: Instead of sodas, drink a seltzer water combined with some lemon or fruit juice. This drink will give you the same fizz as sodas, without the harmful sugar.
The daily intake of sodium for people with high blood pressure should be no more than 1500 mg, according to the American Heart Association. But, if your breakfast includes a 2-ounce ham, you’ll get around 730mg of sodium.
Add a slice of cheese, bread, mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles, and you’ve reached your daily sodium intake only for breakfast.
That’s why you should avoid processed meats and deli such as sausage, bacon, ham hotdog, baloney, and other processed meat products which are seasoned and preserved with salt.
Alternative: Instead, eat lean meat, chicken breasts, or turkey. Improve their flavor with spices in herbs while cooking.
If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid all types of pizza. The mix of bread, tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and deli can quickly increase your sodium intake. What’s more, producers add even more salt to frozen pizzas to preserve their flavor when cooked.
So, 1/4 of a frozen pizza can have up to 500mg sodium. The amount increases if the crust is thicker and there are more toppings.
Alternative: If you can’t resist the flavor of pizzas, however, choose one with a thin crust, less cheese, and vegetable toppings.
Bean paste, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce are all used in Chinese dishes. But, did you know they are packed with sodium? For example, a teaspoon of bean paste contains around 220mg of sodium, and a tablespoon of soy sauce can have up to 824mg.
Alternative: So, the next time you order Chinese food, order your sauce on the side.
Canned Biscuits and Frozen Breads
Bread rolls and frozen biscuits contain trans-fats– fats which increase the LDL cholesterol and reduce your HDL cholesterol. High levels of bad or LDL cholesterol are linked to higher risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Alternative: Since bread is one of the highest sources of sodium, make sure you check the sodium content the next time you buy bread. The best option is the multigrain bread.
If you use the food preservation technique called pickling for even the most harmless veggies like cucumber, you are actually turning them into a high-sodium food. This technique delays decay and makes the food edible for longer by soaking the vegetable in a salt brine.
So, 1 ounce of green olives can have up to 441mg of sodium, while a whole dill pickle spears up to 306mg.
Alternative: What you can do to reduce the amount of sodium in picked food is rinsing the veggie before eating them. Another option is to choose low-sodium picked foods.
Ketchup, tomato juice, canned tomato sauce, and other processed tomato products are loaded with sodium. Producers add different food additives like salt to make them more tasty and edible for longer.
So, a cup of tomato juice can contain up to 653mg of sodium, while a cup of canned tomato sauce around 1284mg.
Alternative: The best option is to use a homemade pasta sauce with organic tomatoes, spices, and fresh herbs. Or, you can choose low-sodium tomato products.
Excessive drinking, especially repeated drinking, can increase blood pressure levels up to dangerous levels and cause long-term problems. On the other hand, drinking more than three drinks per sitting can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure.
Besides this, alcohol contains a lot of calories so you’ll end up with more kilos than you want. In fact, overweight or obese people have more chances of developing hypertension.
Alternative: If you have high blood pressure, avoid alcohol or at least have not more than one drink a day if you’re older than 65, and up to two drinks if you’re a man younger than that age.
Coffee can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure levels in everyone, especially in those with hypertension. Statistics show that people who drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages regularly have higher average blood pressure than their counterparts.
Alternative: Even though it’s best to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages completely, you can at least drink not more than two 12-ounce cups daily.
Canned soups are really convenient, especially when not having enough time to prepare some other dish or when sick. But, this product is packed with sodium, just like packaged stocks and broths.
So, a serving of some soups can contain up to 890mg of sodium. This means that consuming the whole can will give you 2,225 mg of sodium, which is a lot.
Alternative: Make your own soup following a low-sodium recipe, and enjoy!
By avoiding these foods and choosing their alternatives, you can help control your blood pressure levels, thus avoid a lot of health complications.