Hypertension: 6 Foods to Avoid (P.S. 8 Foods to Try)

Hypertension refers to the high pressure of blood against the artery walls. It leads to several serious health issues like kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke, as it damages the blood vessels. Known as a silent killer, high blood pressure goes unnoticed and without any symptoms for years in some instances.

Hypertension- 6 Foods to Avoid (P.S. 8 Foods to Try)However, it is quite common and takes a huge toll on health. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), around 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure.

The reason it is common is that many of its risk factors are beyond anybody’s control. These risk factors include family history, age, race, and gender. Still, you can control many factors, like diet and exercise. A diet rich in magnesium, potassium, and fiber helps a lot with high blood pressure.

Foods To Avoid If You Have Hypertension:

If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, you may be worried about taking a bunch of medicines to bring your numbers down, prevent blood clotting, and control cholesterol.

While you cannot avoid taking mediation altogether, you can still limit the amount you take every day. You can bring your blood pressure back to normal by adopting a healthy lifestyle, avoiding certain foods, and eating others.

You should also be mindful of your calorie intake and keep tabs on the portion size. Also, you can reduce the medication and lower your blood pressure by avoiding these foods:

1.  Sodium

Salt and sodium are major villains when it comes to heart disease and high blood pressure. According to the 2015-2022 Dietary Guidelines for America, people with high blood pressure should limit their daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg).

However, according to Mayo Clinic, the average American consumes around 3,400 mg per day, which is more than double the recommended amount. A person with hypertension needs to limit his/her salt intake, as 90 percent of our sodium consumption comes from table salt.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration revealed that about 75 percent of the sodium Americans consume every day comes from added salt in foods at restaurants and processed foods instead of what they add to their favorite foods with a saltshaker.

Foods having a huge salt content include frozen pizza, deli meat, canned soup, and vegetable juices. 

Cutting on sodium, even if by a slight amount, can immensely improve your heart health. Your blood pressure can reduce by around 5 to 6 mm Hg if you reduce your sodium intake.

Also, you need to know that the effect of consuming sodium varies from person to person. Generally, a person needs to limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg a day while the ideal sodium intake is 1500 mg a day for most adults.

In order to reduce sodium in your food, you should check the sodium content in food that you are buying. Check the food labels and opt for low-sodium items including beverages.

Furthermore, you should eat fewer processed foods. Natural foods do not have much amount of sodium. The element is added during the processing of foods.

It is prudent that you do not add salt when you are served with the food. 1 level teaspoon of salt contains 2300 mg of sodium, and that is more than the recommended amount. So, opt for other seasoning options to add flavor to your food.

If a drastic reduction in your sodium intake seems to be an uphill battle, try cutting back gradually. Your taste buds will adapt accordingly.

2.  Packaged Foods and Chicken Skin

People having high blood pressure should avoid trans fats and reduce saturated fats in their diet. Items containing saturated fat include full-fat dairy, chicken skin, red meat, and butter.

Whereas, trans fats are naturally present in fatty meats and dairy products. However, the biggest suppliers of trans fats are packaged and prepared foods. They also contain high amounts of low-fiber carbohydrates and sugar.

These fats, known as empty calories, are produced in the process of hydrogenation. In this process, the liquid oils are infused with air after which it turns into a solid oil. Hydrogenated oils are added to increase the shelf life and stability of the packaged foods.

Research has shown that substituting fats for processed sugar and carbohydrates worsens heart health. Moreover, excessive consumption of saturated and trans fats increases the Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol. High LDL levels can worsen your high blood pressure while leading to the development of coronary heart diseases.

To reduce these risks, you should replace saturated, and trans fats with plant fats like seeds, olive oil, nuts, and avocadoes.

3.  Alcohol

While consuming alcohol in moderate amounts is good for your health, excessive consumption can do disasters. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. It can also increase the risk for several kinds of cancer, even if the person drinks alcohol occasionally.alcohol

In fact, drinking over three drinks in one go can temporarily spike the blood pressure. Repeated consumption of alcohol can cause long-term blood pressure problems.

Alcohol can also impact the efficacy of any blood pressure medication you may be taking. Moreover, the drink is full of calories and can result in weight gain while obesity or being overweight is one of the major causes of high blood pressure. Therefore, cut back on your alcohol intake. If you face any difficulty in doing that, seek help.

4.  Caffeine

The experts are somehow divided on how caffeine intake impacts the blood pressure. However, the majority of the experts believe that caffeine can increase blood pressure up to 10mm Hg in people who consume it occasionally. Some experts opine that caffeine does not affect people who drink it in routine.

However, there is a possibility that the long-term effects of caffeine are adverse to blood pressure. In order to confirm if caffeine increases your blood pressure, check your blood pressure within half an hour of consuming a caffeinated beverage.

If your blood pressure has increased by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you are prone to the negative impacts of caffeine. Talk to a health care professional regarding the effects of caffeine on your blood pressure. Also, you should avoid or at least limit your daily consumption of coffee and other high-caffeine beverages.

5.  Sugar

You must know that overconsumption of sugar increases weight and leads to obesity. But you may not know that excessive sugar intake can also raise your blood pressure.

Sugar, especially sugary beverages, has led to an increase in obesity among people of all ages. And we know that obesity is a major contributor to high blood pressure.

While the US Department of Agriculture does not have any recommended daily limit for sugar, the American Heart Association suggests limiting sugar intake to 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.

Limiting your sugar intake can also save you from many other serious health conditions like diabetes. There is a reason why sugar is called white poison.

Related article: 10 Real Reasons Why Sugar Is Bad For Your Health

6.  Canned/Bottled Tomato Products

Tomato products with added salts can create problems for people having high blood pressure. Majority of the canned tomato sauces, juices, and pasta sauces are high in sodium and thus, are troublesome for people with hypertension.

In fact, a half-cup serving of classic marinara sauce contains at least 400 mg of sodium. Moreover, a cup of tomato juice comes with more than 600 mg of sodium. This high sodium content covers quite much of the recommended daily intake.

You do not have to shun the tomato products completely from your life. All you have to do is find low-sodium versions of these items. You can also buy fresh tomatoes and make these products at home. This way, you would not only be avoiding added salt but also be consuming lycopene that has many health benefits.

Foods To Eat In Hypertension

You can easily improve hypertension by consuming certain foods while avoiding others. Here are a few foods that can help you with hypertension.

1.  Berries

Berries, especially blueberries, are filled with flavonoids that help a lot with high blood pressure. One study indicates that consumption of these natural compounds can not only lower the blood pressure but also prevent hypertension.

Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are quite easy to add to the diet. You can put them in your granola or cereal in breakfast or add frozen berries to a healthy dessert.

You can also make smoothies, which not only give a refreshing effect on your mood but also are good for your health.

2.  Mediterranean Diet

Whenever there is a discussion on a healthy diet, Mediterranean owes a mention. The Mediterranean diet is quite helpful when it comes to treating high blood pressure symptoms.

This diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, seafood, and healthy omega-3 fat oils. Many of the healthy food items like olive oil, leafy greens, fruits, and wild-caught fish are an incumbent part of the Mediterranean diet. All of these foods are known to lower blood pressure naturally.

3.  Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are known to lower your blood pressure because they are high in potassium. Potassium assists your kidneys in getting rid of sodium via urination.

According to the American Heart Association, a potassium-rich diet plays a vital role in controlling blood pressure. It reduces the harmful effects of sodium on the body.

Leafy greens rich in potassium include arugula, turnip greens, kale, romaine lettuce, collard greens, beet greens, spinach, and swiss chard.

However, you should keep in mind that canned vegetables do more harm instead of doing any good. They often have added sodium, so abstain from using them. Frozen vegetables are a good alternative, as they have as many nutrients as fresh vegetables and are easy to store.

You can add leafy greens to salads, cook them, and even blend them with bananas and nut milk to make a juice.

4.  Red Beets

Beets are filled with nitric oxide that helps open the blood vessels and lower the blood pressure. According to research, the nitrates in beetroot juice lower blood pressure within just 24 hours.

You can make a juice of red beets or cook the whole root. It is scrumptious when added to stir-fries and stew or when roasted. The root can also be baked into chips; however, apply caution when handling it as the juice can stain your clothes and hands.

5.  Fish with Omega-3

Fish like salmon and mackerel are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and decrease triglycerides.

Moreover, trout contains vitamin D, which is a hormone-like vitamin that helps lower blood pressure. Not only that fish are effective in lowering the blood pressure they also are easy to cook. Just place a fillet on parchment paper, add herbs, olive oil, and lemon, and bake.

6.  Garlic and Herbs

According to one review, garlic helps reduce hypertension by increasing nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps widen the arteries, lower blood pressure, and promote vasodilation.

Garlic is one of the main ingredients in ayurvedic diets because of its medicinal properties. You can add it into your daily diet with herbs and spices to cut back on your salt intake. Spices and herbs you can add alongside garlic are rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, and basil, etc.

7.  Pistachios

Pistachios can decrease blood pressure, as they tend to reduce peripheral vascular resistance. They also reduce blood vessel tightening and heart rate.

According to one study, a diet containing one serving of pistachios every day can help reduce the blood pressure. You can add the dry fruit to crusts, salads, and pesto sauce or eating them as a snack.

8.  Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats and is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. It contains polyphenols that are known to reduce blood pressure. It is also a good replacement for butter, canola oil, and commercial salad dressing.

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