High blood pressure is one of the most common problems faced by adults in a global scale. According to studies, about 40% of the total global population suffers from hypertension or high blood pressure. The World Health Organization or WHO have expressed their serious concern over this issue. Even though the rate of high blood pressure affected people is high, it can be lowered without much trouble. The most basic cause for the increase in blood pressure is uncontrolled eating. Checking on the food and drinks intake and maintaining a healthy diet will surely help to lower the blood pressure level. Therefore, the first step for a patient is to know about the foods to avoid with high blood pressure.
For a human being with average height and weight, a healthy diet consists of green vegetables and fresh fruits, whole grains, legumes, dairy with low-fat levels and lean protein.
There are various types of beverages and foods which prevent the blood pressure level to be lowered. Given below are some of the food items that need to be strictly limited or avoided if one is looking for lowering his or her blood pressure level.
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Sodium and salt are especially the biggest inhibitor of low blood pressure levels and increases the blood pressure drastically. If taken unchecked, it can cause serious diseases of the heart. Therefore, the daily sodium intake for high blood pressure should be limited without any further ado. As per studies, reports say that the ideal amount of sodium intake for patients with high blood pressure should be limited to only 1500 mg per day. Statistics show the average amount of sodium intake in a single day for a normal person is about 3400 mg, which is more than twice the amount.
Different credible sources have stated that most of the sodium intake in the human body, roughly two-thirds of the total amount comes solely from the extra salts which are present in the processed foods or taken in food service centers or restaurants. The additional salt shaker present has nothing to do with it though.
Most of the packaged foods contain an amount of salt which can be tagged as extra. However, some of the foods which contain too much salt in them include the frozen pizza, juices of vegetables, deli meat, and bottled or canned products of tomato and canned soup of all flavors.
2. Deli meat
One of the high sources which increase the daily sodium intake for high blood pressure is the deli meat. The deli meats are mainly processes and eaten for lunch. Most of the deli meats are seasoned, cured and preserved well with salt. As per reports, a normal 2 ounce serving of the deli meat can contain the sodium amount of 500 mg or more. Those who like to have a heavy lunch with lots of dishes are taking in even more amounts of sodium. For the meat lovers, they often take cheese, bread, pickles and condiments with the deli meat. Such form of sandwiches is practically a huge reservoir of sodium and increases the blood pressure level drastically.
3. Frozen Pizza
Each and every type of pizzas top the list of the foods to avoid with high blood pressure. When the pizza is eaten along with cured meats, tomato sauce, cheese and crust, it is sure to load up the blood pressure level due to the huge amount of sodium intake. The most dangerous type of pizza that needs to be avoided at all costs for lowering high blood pressure is frozen pizza.
Once a pizza has been cooked, a huge amount of salt is added to act both as a preservative and to also maintain the original pizza flavor. It has been found that a single serving of the meat and cheese pizza or the frozen pizza can add almost 700 mg of sodium in the body, or even more. The sodium level is directly dependent upon the number of toppings present and the thickness of the crust.
Any kind of preserved foods requires salt as a necessary ingredient. The presence of salt keeps the food from getting decayed and helps in elongating the edible period of the food. The sad part is, adding such an amount of salt can make any food a huge sodium reservoir, which in turn is responsible for increasing the blood pressure level. The more time the vegetables are kept in the preserving or canning liquids, the higher the sodium amount is accumulated in those. A complete dill pickle spear may have a sodium amount equivalent to 390 mg or more. Pickle lovers do not need to worry much though, as various options are available which contain a much lower sodium level.
5. Canned soups
Canned soups are one of the most popular food products and are available everywhere. They are very easy to prepare as well, and if you are looking for having quick refreshment without much work, you can always opt for it. Canned soups are also regular food for ill people. The sodium level of the canned soups is, however, very high. The packaged and canned stocks and broths are equally high in sodium and are direct contributors to increasing high blood pressure.
As per reports, a normal serving of the canned soups and even in the readymade pastas, which is approximately a half-cup contains sodium amount equivalent to 900 mg or more. With the consumption of a whole canned soup, a person will be ingesting sodium equivalent to almost 2000 mg or so. There are different varieties present though, which offer reduced and much lower amounts of sodium. The best option to reduce the daily sodium intake for high blood pressure while taking soups is to cook your own soup made up of low sodium ingredients.
6. Bottled Tomato or Canned Products
It is very widely known that the products containing tomato which also has added salt in them are very harmful to the patients suffering from high blood pressure. All of the canned sauces and juices, mainly the pasta sauces, tomato sauces and the juices of tomato are very rich in sodium. A normal half-cup serving of the most common tomato sauces contains sodium amount equivalent to 400 mg or more. One full cup of the tomato juice contains an even higher amount of sodium, roughly equating to 600 mg.
The low sodium and reduced-sodium variants are available though. For those who are aiming to lower down their blood pressure, it is advised that they should go for these alternative options. Another good option is fresh tomatoes, which contain a high amount of lycopene. These options will benefit the blood pressure levels of the body and keep then under control.
It is pretty much well known that the excessive intake of sugar in the body can result in weight gain, obesity, high level of blood sugar and diabetes. However, excessive sugar intake can be an equal contributor to the increasing high blood pressure as well. In fact, doctors have tagged sugar as one of the key foods to avoid with high blood pressure. The cold drinks which are generally sweetened by sugar are a huge source of ingesting sugar into the bodies. As a result, people are not only suffering from high blood pressure, they are suffering from high blood pressure and obesity as well.
Nutritionists have pointed out that the daily sugar intake for a healthy woman should not be more 24 grams, which is equivalent to 6 teaspoons of sugar. As for man, the limit stands at 36 grams per day, or equivalently 9 teaspoons of sugar.
8. Packaged foods and Chicken Skin
For the people who are suffering from high blood pressure, the immediate reduction of the Trans fatty acids and the saturated fats is strongly recommended. There are a lot of food items which contain a high amount of saturated fats such as red meat, full-fat dairies, chicken skin and butter. The presence of the Trans fatty acids is generally more concentrated in the dairy products and fatty meats. The prepared foods and the packaged foods are the biggest storehouses of the Trans fatty acids. The presence of low fiber carbohydrates and huge amounts of sugar also contribute to the increased blood pressure levels.
Hydrogenation is the process where the infusion of the air and the liquid oils take place to form a solid amount of oil which in turn creates the Trans fatty acids. The use of hydrogenated oils are well known in the packaged foods as they make the food more stable and increase the shelf life of the food as well. Whenever processed carbohydrates or sugar is substituted by fats, the health condition is seen to worsen drastically. Excessive consumption of the Trans fatty acids and the saturated fats increases the Low-Density Lipoproteins or the LDLs, commonly known as bad cholesterol. When the LDL level of the body is too high, blood pressure reaches the highest level, which is very bad for the heart. It can even lead to coronary heart diseases.
Therefore as a safety measure, sugar intake should be reduced to a bare minimum. It is also advised to replace the saturated, plant and animal fats and especially the Trans fatty acids. Products such as seeds, avocado, olive oil and nuts thus should be avoided for high blood pressure patients.
Alcohol, when taken in moderate or small amounts has been known to reduce the level of blood pressure. However, excessive drinking causes just the opposite, that is, it increases the blood pressure level even more. It is not unknown that excessive drinking can also cause all types of cancers and liver failure. Even occasional drinkers are not safe from these health complications.
As per reports, people who have drank alcohol more than 3 drinks on average have been facing a sudden rise in the blood pressure levels temporarily. While the persons who have been drinking on such exceeding amounts on a regular basis, they have even acquired long term high blood pressure.
The problems do not end here. Alcohol also interferes with the medications that one may take for lowering blood pressure levels and render them incapable. The calorie count of alcohol is also quite high, and this needs to be broken down by the liver as well. Therefore, alcohol is also the reason for obesity or being overweight. Obese persons are more likely to develop high blood pressure levels.
To quit or lower drinking may not be a very easy process for everyone. Therefore, seeing a doctor for anti-drug medications is a good way of lowering down or cutting off the alcohol intake.
Strategies for smart eating
For the patients with high blood pressure levels, it is recommended to follow some smart and healthy eating strategies which can lower down the blood pressure level or prevent the further rise of the blood pressure.
Taking some basic steps, such as strictly ignoring the foods to avoid with high blood pressure, or by reducing the daily sodium intake for high blood pressure is a good start. One can also use the options which include no or reduced sodium products.
For a healthy diet, it is recommended to eat green vegetables and fruits as much as you can. The calorie count is pretty low, but they are rich in potassium, which acts against the sodium. Other nutrients such as antioxidants and fiber also belong in the same category. Pomegranate and beet juices which are rich in nitrate content have been found to be very effective for lowering the blood pressure levels. Regular drinking benefits high blood pressure patients.
One important thing that should be kept in mind is that the presence of high blood pressure does not necessarily mean that you have to deprive yourself of food. The quantity does not matter, the type and the choices do. Therefore, smart eating and healthy eating strategies should be applied and followed regularly.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH has resulted in excellent management of high blood pressure levels. This diet is therapeutic and comprises of vegetables and fruits as a necessary component of each meal. The addition of foods containing high fibers such as whole grains, beans and nuts also acts as an advantage.
Since salt is one of the top foods to avoid with high blood pressure, salt habits should be changed for keeping the blood pressure to a low and maintained level.
The Most Common Sources of Sodium
It has been a common tendency to include salt as a regular part of our diet. Even when it is not really required, we prefer foods with a little bit of added table salt. Thus small but stable extra sodium accumulation is also one of the reasons for high blood pressure. The first step to reduce the intake is to stop using table salt. The salt, however, still enters the body through the various processed and packaged foods. This is harmful to high blood pressure patients. Reducing the frequency of taking these foods can reduce the daily sodium intake for high blood pressure and can solve the problem of hypertension from even occurring.
As stated before, the limit for salt for high blood pressure patients should be 1500 mg per day. Following the 1000 mg limit is considered to be the ideal by many, and it helps in lowering the blood pressure level even faster.
Comparison of Salt and Sodium equivalents
Table salt is the common name for sodium chloride, and it contains 40% of sodium in composition. The knowledge of the sodium level in normal salt measures is important to know when controlling the daily sodium intake. Given below are approximate values of sodium in different amounts of salt-
- One-fourth of a teaspoon salt – 575 mg sodium
- Half teaspoon salt – 1150 mg sodium
- Three fourth of a teaspoon salt – 1725 mg sodium
- Full teaspoon salt – 2300 mg sodium
Sources of Sodium
Sodium is present in a lot of food products which we remain unaware of. The key to sodium intake control is to avoid the foods containing it. You can know about the ingredients of a product by checking its label. Food products like pickles and preservatives contain a high amount of sodium in them. Naturally, they should be avoided if one is looking for lowering their blood pressure levels.
Normally as stated previously, the processed foods, legumes, seafood, olives, cheese, all types of salt, some juices, preserved canned foods, prescription medicines and even some drugs contain a high amount of sodium. All of these products should be taken in as fewer amounts as possible.
Cooking and shopping habits
Even some habits of cooking and shopping can unknowingly contribute to a sodium-rich diet. The tips given below can help to reduce this unchecked amount of sodium intake.
Smart shopping and cooking
- The foods with lower sodium content are almost available for each and every type of food. The taste variation is slight, but with practice, even low sodium meals can be equally delicious. A lot of reports have said that people who have adjusted to low sodium diets have preferred not to go back to the high sodium diets again.
- Reading the labels should be a habit while buying packaged or prepared foods. Foods like tomato sauce, soups, canned products and condiments are high in sodium. Labels that indicate Na, sodium or soda means the food has sodium in it. You should look for the ones with the tags of low sodium or low salt in them.
- It is always better to eat more green vegetables and fresh fruits. Frozen or canned foods should be avoided as much as possible. Even if they are taken, varieties with no sauce or no salt should be chosen.
- It is a very good idea to use raw vegetables and fruits as daily snacks.
- The seeds, peas, lentils, dried beans or nuts which are unsalted should be consumed.
- Soups, bouillons and broths which are free of fat and low in sodium should be chosen.
- It is better to add as less as possible salt to homemade dishes. For the canned products, zero salts should be added.
- You can stop using salt while cooking. The salt shaker usage can be stopped. There are salt substitutes present which can be used, mainly containing more potassium than sodium, and is useful for everyone except the kidney patients. Salt substitutes should be taken after consulting medical personnel.
- Apart from salt, you can also use herbs and spices to level up the food flavor. The alternatives are not only healthier but they make the food tastier as well.
- It is recommended to taste the natural flavor of food. Salt should only be added if required.
- The DASH eating plan can be strictly followed.
When dining out, reduce the sodium
The restaurants and food hotels are more popular nowadays because of the general tendency of people to eat out have increased. These restaurant foods are rich in sodium, which with some smart habits, can be avoided without disturbing the pleasure of the food. The brown rice is also good for health.
Whenever you are dining out-
- You can be looking for low sodium foods and be specific in ordering them only. There are plenty of tasty dishes available.
- While ordering, you can request to make it without excess salt.
- Instead of using a salt shaker, it is advised to use a mill or pepper shaker.
- Vegetables and fish can be effectively flavored by lemon juice instead of salt.
There are a lot of seasoning alternatives which you can try to flavor your food instead of salts. This way, you can get both healthy and tasty foods. Some of the seasoning alternatives include-
- Allspice: Stews, lean meats, peaches, tomatoes, cranberry sauce, applesauce, lean meat, gravies
- Almond extract: Fruits, puddings
- Basil: Lamb, fish, stews, lean ground meats, soups, salads, fish cocktails, sauces
- Bay leaves: Stews, lean meats, soups, poultry, tomatoes
- Caraway seeds: Stews, lean meats, salads, soups, cabbage, bread, noodles, asparagus
- Chives: sauces, salads, lean meat dishes, soups, vegetables
- Cider vinegar: vegetables, sauces, salads
- Cinnamon: Fruits, apples, bread
- Curry powder: Chicken, lean meats, lamb, veal, tomatoes, fish, tomato soup
- Dill: Fish sauces, tomatoes, soups, carrots, cabbages, green beans, cauliflower, potatoes, cucumbers, macaroni, salads, lamb, lean beef, fish, chicken
- Garlic: Lean meats, soups, fish, vegetables, salads, potatoes, tomatoes
- Ginger: Fruits, chicken
- Lemon juice: Poultry, lean meats, fish, vegetables, salads
- Mace: Fruit salads, hot bread, apples, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, squash, lamb, veal
- Dry mustard: Chicken, lean meats, salads, fish, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, sauces
- Nutmeg: Potatoes, fruits, fish, veal, chicken, toast, lean meat loaf, pudding
- Onion powder: Stews, lean meats, salads, vegetables, soups
- Paprika: Fish, lean meats, sauces, salads, soups, vegetables
- Parsley: Fish, lean meats, salads, sauces, soups, vegetables
- Peppermint extract: Fruits, pudding
- Pimiento: Vegetables, salads, casserole dishes
- Rosemary: Veal, peas, chicken, lean beef, lean meatloaf, sauces, lean pork, potatoes, stuffings, lima beans
- Sage: Stews, lean meats, tomatoes, biscuits, fish, green beans, onions, lima beans, lean pork
- Savory: Lean pork, salads, soups, lean ground meats, squash, green beans, lima beans, tomatoes, peas
- Thyme: Sauces, lean meats, lean pork, veal, onions, soups, tomatoes, peas, salads
- Turmeric: Fish, sauces, lean meats, rice
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