High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a significant health problem for many people. Persistently elevated blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease, aneurysm, and stroke. However, most people can manage their blood pressure effectively via exercise and diet, especially by avoiding these five foods that cause hypertension.
Salt is in more foods than you realize. If you cook from scratch, you probably only add a pinch of salt here and there. However, when you buy a frozen pizza, or a ready meal, it often has extra salt added to boost the flavor. Salt is a major contributor to raising blood pressure, so check the ingredients when you buy, or look for the green, amber, and red traffic lights on the packaging that show whether a food is high in salt or not.
Cured meats are a secret store of salt (sodium). Salami, pastrami, smoked hams – they’re all cured with salt (amongst other ingredients), so should really only be eaten in moderation. If you’re buying a sandwich packed with salt beef, cheese, and pickles, that’s a triple load of salt that’s completely invisible – but not to your body.
Food bought in tins and cans tends to have a lot of salt as it helps preserve the food properly. This is great for keeping the cupboards full when you need food to last a long time. However, all that extra salt is not good for your blood pressure. Check the ingredients on foods like cans of soup, tinned tomatoes, and even tinned meats and fish.
There’s some contention over whether fat is as bad for you as it’s been thought for many years. In 2014, the Annals of Internal Medicine published new findings that sparked debate over the role of saturated fats in the diet. Heart experts tend to recommend steering clear of saturated fat. However, some nutritionists say that it’s actually trans fats that need to be avoided rather than all saturated fats.
Trans fats can cause “bad” cholesterol to be higher and lower the levels of “good” cholesterol. Both of these can affect blood pressure negatively, making it important to carefully monitor the amount of trans fat you are consuming in your everyday diet.
When you’re stressed, a glass of wine or a cold beer can seem like the most relaxing choice for many people. The good news is, a little bit of alcohol may actually help to maintain low blood pressure. Like with many foods and drinks though, once you head into over-consumption, that benefit is lost, and alcohol becomes very bad for you instead. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to liver problems and even creates a higher risk of some types of cancer. Drinking more than three drinks in one sitting can cause blood pressure to suddenly spike, and can also prevent blood pressure medication from working.
Studies have shown that persistently overindulging in alcohol can cause long-term blood pressure problems, so only drinking in moderation is really important for maintaining healthy blood pressure.
What Should You Eat?
A healthy diet is all about moderation and balance. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you can make half your plate full of veggies, you’re well on your way to a healthy diet. The body also benefits from whole grains, and healthy proteins like eggs, lean meats, and pulses.
Certain foods are associated with lower blood pressure, and they include beets and beet juice, white beans (which are high in potassium), and fat-free plain yogurt. A regulated diet with appropriate physical activity for your ability range is the most effective way to maintain a healthy blood pressure, but as always, consult a doctor if you feel you need further advice.