Besides the foods that help lower blood pressure, there are foods that raise blood pressure and the high blood pressure (hypertension) patient should avoid and not eat these foods. Wrong lifestyle habits such as a wrong diet and a sedentary style of living cause your blood pressure to increase.
Typically, these foods contain high amounts of
- Sodium (salt)
- Fats, especially saturated fats and trans fats,
Why high blood pressure patients should avoid salt intake?
Salt is sodium chloride. The American Heart Association recommends a daily sodium intake of not more than 1500 milligrams per day for a normal healthy adult. To get an idea of how much salt that is: one teaspoon of salt contains 2500 milligrams of sodium. But, the average intake of sodium is about 3400 mg, most of it coming from processed foods. No wonder then that the prevalence of high blood pressure is rising.
The kidneys resort to removing unwanted waste and extra fluid from the blood by filtering the blood through the process of osmosis. When the sodium and potassium levels are just right, this process of filtering the fluids across the cell walls from the bloodstream, is easily facilitated.
When you ingest too much salt, the sodium gets absorbed into the blood. This wreaks the delicate balance, which the kidneys need to flush out the excess water from the blood stream. This results in water or fluid retention. The volume of blood increases. This extra blood volume in the circulation increases the load on the heart, because the heart has to pump with extra force to circulate the extra blood volume throughout the body.
This extra force increases the pressure of the blood against the arterial walls and you develop high blood pressure. The higher the blood volume the more is the load on the heart and higher is the blood pressure.
That is why people with high blood pressure are advised restricted salt intake.
Why avoid high fat foods in high blood pressure patients?
Eating foods laden with fats, especially saturated fats and trans fats increases, the LDL cholesterol (the bad or unhealthy cholesterol) and the triglycerides levels in the blood.
Increased cholesterol levels predispose to deposit of plaques on the inner lining of the arterial walls, causing their lumen to narrow. This is called atherosclerosis.
Due to this clogging of the arteries, the heart has to use a greater force to pump blood to different parts of the body, in view of increased resistance. This increases the pressure of the blood on the arterial walls causing your blood pressure to increase.
Secondly, eating the wrong fatty foods in your diet is a very high risk factor to developing obesity. Obese people have a bigger body mass and therefore a higher blood volume is required to feed this increased body mass.
Due to this increased blood volume, the heart has to pump blood with a greater force, which increases the pressure on the arterial walls, predisposing to high blood pressure.
Secondly, obesity results mainly due to the consumption of a diet of fatty foods, if you rule out other medical causes. This again causes atherosclerosis and clogging of the arteries, which forms an additional cause in obese people for high blood pressure.
High blood pressure patients therefore are at a very high risk of developing heart diseases due to increased workload on the heart because the heart has to pump blood against an increased pressure in the arteries.
High blood pressure can also cause the small arterioles in the brain to rupture resulting in stroke. These are enough reasons to make you realize why you should not eat such foods when you have high blood pressure.
Why avoid a high calorie diet with high blood pressure?
A calorie is defined as a unit of energy. Eating a high calorie diet and living life without much physical activity significantly increases your risk of obesity.
Unused calories in the body are converted into fats cells, which go on accumulating in the fat depots of the body. You go on accumulating pounds and one day you realize your BMI is more than 25.
Your doctor pronounces you obese. Obesity will make your high blood pressure worse as explained above.
A low-calorie diet (DASH diet) is associated with a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. That is why you should avoid a high calorie diet if you suffer from hypertension and even otherwise.
Lists of foods and drinks to avoid in high blood pressure
Having explained the reasons to avoid salt (sodium), fats and calories in the high-pressure diet, it will be easier for you to identify foods, which you should not eat and totally avoid if you have high blood pressure.
- Table salt due to the high sodium content
- Red meat contains saturated fats (the bad fats)
- Chicken skin is high in saturated fats
- Bacon is mostly saturated fat. Three slices contain 4.5 grams of fat and about 270 mg of sodium.
- Processed deli and lunchmeats are sodium warehouses. They are cured, seasoned, and preserved with salt.
- Fast foods contain calories, sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats
- Ramen Noodles: One package of generic ramen noodles contains 14 grams of fat and 1,580 mg of sodium.
- Margarine contains trans fats. Look at the label before you buy.
- Alcohol elevates blood pressure and damages the blood vessel linings.
- Donuts. One donut contains more than 300 calories with 42% fat and 54% carbohydrates. The fat is mostly saturated fat and trans fats.
- Canned Chicken Noodle Soup: One cup of Canned Chicken Noodle Soup contains about 760 mg of sodium.
- French fries: A medium serving of fries has about 19 grams of fat and 270 mg of sodium.
- Pickles: One medium pickle (about 5 inches long) contains about 570 mgs of sodium – that is about 30 % of your recommended daily intake.
- Chinese food: The sauce in the Chinese food is loaded with sodium.
- Frozen pizza: The dough, tomato sauce, cheese and then processed meats added on top can cause the sodium content to soar to 2400 mg.
- Processed meats including ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and luncheon meats. A three-ounce serving of any of these meats will feed you with 1,200 mg of sodium.
- Canned tomato sauce and tomato juice are both burdened with sodium. It is okay to try them if you get them with low sodium content.
- Sugary drinks including sodas raise the blood pressure, if you consume too much of them. The American Heart Association recommends that people should drink no more than three 355 ml cans of soda a week. Blood pressure rises even with one extra can. That recommendation is for normal healthy individuals. People with high blood pressure should avoid sugar-sweetened fruit juice or carbonated drink completely.
- Do not smoke. High blood pressure is the number one cause of heart attack and smoking stands second. You will be loading yourself with the first two most common causes of heart attacks, The toxins in cigarette smoke corrode the inner lining of the arteries. This makes it easier for the cholesterol plaques to stick to the arterial walls, giving rise to atherosclerosis.
The above list is bound to be incomplete due to the different foods and recipes eaten in various countries around the globe. However, knowing about sodium, fats and calories now, you should be able to garner your own list as well.
Do read the healthy diet for high blood pressure and you will then finally know what to eat and what not to eat with high blood pressure (or even otherwise). High blood pressure complications are too serious to ignore.