What you eat significantly contributes to your blood pressure. Therefore, some of the delicacies on your plate could be the main cause of your high blood pressure problems. This article discusses the 8 common foods that cause high blood pressure.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is a situation in which the blood exerts too much pressure against the walls of your arteries. Also referred to as hypertension, high blood pressure is clinically measured with two numbers. For instance, anything above 140/90 is considered high blood pressure and should be checked by a medical doctor immediately. Normal blood pressure should be 120/80 or lower.
The first number (140) represents the pressure in your blood vessels during a heartbeat. It’s commonly referred to as systolic pressure. The second number (90) represents the force of your blood in your blood vessels when your heart is relaxed between heartbeats. This force is called diastolic pressure.
Medical experts consider the first stage of blood pressure to read 130/80 and higher. So, 140/90 and higher is stage two. Sadly, some people get high blood pressure readings that are as high as 180/110. If your first test gives such a high number, your medical doctor will give you time to relax and do another test just to make sure you are getting the correct reading.
If the reading is still high after the second test, your doctor will advise you to undergo a thorough medical examination to determine what could be causing your blood pressure to rise so severely. Such a high reading is commonly referred to as a hypertensive crisis.
How Does Nutrition Affect Blood Pressure?
As mentioned above, the severity of hypertension is mainly determined by what you eat. For instance, too much consumption of energy foods and excess body weight are among the main causes of high blood pressure. Excess body weight is associated with high activities of the sympathetic nervous system, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone, mineralocorticoid activities, insulin resistance, reduced kidney activity, among other issues.
Research has also shown that a high intake of sodium chloride exposes you to high blood pressure. Excessive consumption of alcohol is also known to increase blood pressure acutely. Generally, a bad diet will lead to bad health, incapacity, and death. Studies have revealed that there is a direct connection between a bad diet and heart complications.
Therefore, adopting a healthy diet will help you to keep your blood pressure low and avoid other serious health complications associated with high blood pressure. This means excluding foods that are known to increase blood pressure from your diet. Here are the most common foods that cause high blood pressure.
8 Common Foods That Cause Hypertension
The most effective and lasting treatment for high blood pressure is a lifestyle change. Therefore, start by checking your diet to know what could be increasing your blood pressure. Here are some of the foods known to cause hypertension.
1. Salt or Sodium
The sodium element found in table salt is known to increase blood pressure due to its effect on the balance of fluids in your blood. Please note that 40 percent of table salt is sodium. So, although salt has some health benefits, it should be taken moderately. Health experts recommend taking less than 2,300 mg of sodium every day, which is equal to one teaspoon.
It’s also important to understand that most of the packaged and processed foods at the grocery store already have sodium because they are usually cured, seasoned, and preserved. Most of the sodium in American foods comes from packaged and processed food rather than what you add. Some of these foods include pizza, bread, rolls, cured meat, sandwiches, tacos, soup, burritos, Deli meat, among others.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that two portions of bologna can contain up to 190 mg of sodium, while one frankfurter can have up to 567 mg of sodium. Therefore, adding salt to these foods leads to excessive consumption of sodium, exposing you to the risk of high blood pressure.
2. Frozen Pizza
Frozen pizzas are made with a mixture of ingredients, some of which are high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. For instance, they contain cheese, which is known to have high levels of sodium. Studies have shown that two portions of American cheese can hold up to 512 mg of sodium.
The pizza dough is high in sugar, while the crust cured meat and tomato sauce are high in sodium and sugar. Furthermore, some bakeries add salt to their cooked frozen pizza to maintain its taste. Some reports also suggest that there is about 3,140 mg of sodium in a 12-inch pepperoni pizza. This is excessively about the recommended daily intake of sodium.
Salt is a great preservative because it draws moisture from the food, keeping it edible and preventing decay. Unfortunately, the longer your food remains in the preserving liquid, the more sodium it acquires. For instance, a small piece of pickled cucumber can have more than 440 mg of sodium. Therefore, you should always choose vegetables with less sodium.
4. Canned Soup
Canned soup is a simple meal that is easy to prepare. It’s usually the first choice for people who don’t feel like cooking or don’t have the time to prepare a full course meal. Unfortunately, canned soup is very high in sodium. Therefore, if you are used to taking this type of soup, it’s likely to increase your blood pressure.
A can of tomato soup holds about 1,110 mg of sodium, while that of chicken and vegetable soup holds up to 2,140 mg. Therefore, remember to check the label on the can to see how much sodium is present. Alternatively, you should prepare your soup at home.
5. Canned Sauce
Most types of canned sauces, including tomato sauce, pasta sauce, and tomato juice, are very high in sodium. Continuous consumption of these sauces will elevate your blood pressure. For instance, a single serving of marinara sauce holds up to 566 mg of sodium, while one cup of tomato juice holds about 615 mg.
To avoid high blood pressure, choose low sodium sauces or make your tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. Eating fresh vegetables, including tomatoes, helps to improve the condition of your heart.
Sugar is another major contributor to severe high blood pressure. Excess consumption of sugar, especially sugar-sweetened beverages leads to weight gain in both kids and adults. And as mentioned above, excess body weight increases the risk of high blood pressure.
Although no conclusive findings have been made, some studies have revealed a direct connection between excess sugar consumption and hypertension. For instance, a study done in 2019 by American Heart Association (AHA) showed that women with hypertension recorded an 8.4 mm Hg drop in systolic and a 3.7 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure after reducing their sugar intake by 2.3 teaspoons.
The recommended daily sugar intake is as follows:
• 6 teaspoons of sugar for females
• 9 teaspoons of sugar for males
7. Processed Food with Trans or Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are known to cause heart complications like increasing levels of bad cholesterol in your blood. Trans fats are also very risky because they elevate your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, resulting in hypertension. Other heart complications linked to trans and saturated fats include stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases.
These fats are usually found in processed and packaged foods, alongside excess sugar, sodium, and low fiber carbs. You can also find saturated fats in different animal products like milk, cream, butter, chicken skin, and red meat.
So, you need to take these products sparingly to avoid hypertension. You should also replace some of these animal products with plant-based substitutes such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, among others.
Excessive consumption of alcohol elevates your blood pressure because it is high in sugar and calories. Therefore, it will result in excess body weight, which is a major cause of high blood pressure. It can also render your hypertension medication ineffective. Limiting your alcohol intake can significantly reduce your blood pressure.
According to AHA, men should not have more than two alcoholic drinks per day, while women should have only one alcoholic drink per day. If you are unable to quit drinking or limiting your alcohol intake, talk to your doctor for guidance.