Is your blood pressure high despite taking medications and exercising every day? Your diet may be the culprit! The food you eat plays a major role in regulating your blood pressure. So knowing what foods to avoid when you have high blood pressure can help you manage your hypertension naturally. Read on to find out more about the foods you should be eating and the list of foods to avoid with high blood pressure.
How Does Diet Affect Your Blood Pressure Levels?
The food that you eat affects all aspects of your health. Understanding the relationship between your diet and blood pressure can help you in picking the right foods. This will also enable you to manage your hypertension.
When you have excess sodium in your diet, your body holds on to the water that is required to balance out the excess sodium. The water retained in your body can add stress on your blood vessels resulting in higher blood pressure readings.
When you have hypertension, the walls of your arteries are slightly damaged due to the increased pressure in your blood vessels. Saturated and trans fats can accumulate in these damaged areas of your artery walls, leading to a build-up of plaque. This narrows and blocks your blood vessels causing a further increase in your blood pressure levels, putting you at risk of heart disease.
In the long-run, high blood sugar levels can cause damage to your artery walls, leading to cholesterol and fat accumulation which can block your blood vessels. This increases your risk of developing hypertension and heart diseases.
Foods rich in carbohydrates digest much quicker when compared to others, and need more blood to be digested. As a result, your body redirects blood to your gut from other parts of your body, which could cause a drop in your blood pressure.
Alcohol consumption affects your body in several ways. It causes dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and interferes with the functioning of various hormones that regulate kidney functions. All of these can have a negative impact on your blood pressure.
15 Foods to Avoid With High Blood Pressure
Overly salty food
Foods that are overly salty like chips, namkeen, fries, etc., have too much sodium, and are the major food to avoid in high blood pressure. Sodium can cause water retention in your body and raise your blood pressure.
Avoid consuming drinks that are high in caffeine like coffee, tea, sodas, etc., as caffeine can constrict your blood vessels, which increases the tension in them. This leads to elevated blood pressure readings.
Overly processed food
Junk food, processed meat, etc., are loaded with sodium and fats and lose most of their nutrition value while being cooked. These foods can increase your chance of heart disease and hypertension. Hence, they are one of the main high blood pressure foods to avoid.
Pickled or preserved food
Pickled or preserved foods are usually stored in brine (salt) solution or sugar syrup to prevent the growth of microorganisms and extend shelf life. Consuming these foods can spike your blood pressure due to the presence of excess sodium and sugar in them.
Food high in saturated or trans-fats
Foods that are high in saturated and trans-fats like reheated palm oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil, lard, margarine, etc., can raise your cholesterol levels and block your arteries, thus increasing your blood pressure.
Frozen meals or canned food
Though easy to make and convenient, most frozen meals and canned food have high sodium and sugar content, which can raise your blood pressure.
Most store-bought white bread loaves have a lot of added salt in them. Three slices of bread have more than 20% of your daily recommended sodium intake in them.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause your blood vessels to constrict, which can raise your blood pressure.
The compounds that are produced when red meat is digested in your gut can keep your blood pressure elevated. Red meats like pork, meat, venison, mutton, etc., are also high in saturated fats, which can raise your cholesterol levels.
Foods that contain high levels of added sugars like chocolate, candy, cookies, jams, ice creams, desserts, etc., can cause high blood sugar levels, which can lead to hypertension in future. Foods with high sugar content can make you gain weight, which can again elevate your blood pressure.
Condiments and dressings
Most brands of condiments like ketchup, soy sauce, chilli sauce, etc., are loaded with extra salt and sugars, which can cause an increase in your blood pressure. Check the labels of these products before buying them to make sure they are not high in sodium.
Foods that have high-fat content like milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, fatty fish and meat, etc., can raise your cholesterol levels and make you gain weight, which can put you at risk for heart diseases and hypertension.
Sports drinks and energy drinks are consumed before or after a workout to restore electrolyte levels in your body. This could be bad for your body if you have hypertension. They raise your blood sugar levels after consumption due to their high caffeine and sugar content.
Baked goods and confectioneries
Most baked goods and confectionaries like cakes, pies, biscuits, bread rolls, sweets, etc., are made of sugars and saturated fats, both of which can negatively affect your blood pressure. These foods should be consumed sparingly to avoid high blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Your blood pressure medications could react with the compounds in grapefruit which could affect the way the drugs are absorbed into your bloodstream. This reduces the effectiveness of your medicines.
Foods You Should Include in Your Diet
Fruits and vegetables
Including at least 5 to 6 servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet every day can help you lower your blood pressure. Fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of essential micro and macronutrients, and eating them every day can help lower your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Whole grains like oats, brown rice, millets, barley, etc., are excellent sources of fiber that can help you keep your cholesterol levels in check and improve your heart health.
Legumes, beans and lentils
Beans, pulses, legumes, and lentils are loaded with magnesium, potassium, protein and fiber, all of which are essential for lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Fish and lean meats
Fish like salmon, mackerel, cod, etc., are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Lean meats (meats with the fat trimmed off) are high in protein, which is beneficial for lowering blood pressure.
Nuts and seeds
Unsalted nuts and seeds are great sources of essential micronutrients like potassium, manganese, magnesium and zinc which help control high blood pressure.
Dietary potassium helps your body eliminate excess sodium, which can help lower your blood pressure levels.
You can read more about Hypertension-friendly foods here.
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- Your diet plays an important role in regulating your blood pressure levels.
- Sodium, saturated fats, sugar, carbohydrates and alcohol can all affect your blood pressure when consumed.
- If you have hypertension, you should avoid overly salty food, caffeine, overly processed food, pickled or preserved food, food high in saturated or trans-fats, frozen meals or canned food, bread, alcohol, red meat, added sugars, condiments and dressings, high-fat foods, energy drinks, baked goods, confectioneries, and grapefruit.
- Try including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, lentils, fish, lean meat, nuts, seeds, and foods rich in potassium in your diet to control your high blood pressure.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading cardiologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate BP monitors and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Hypertension Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat high blood pressure problems together.
Avoid the following things if you have high BP:
- Eating foods rich in sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars
- Alcohol consumption
- Caffeine consumption
- Strenuous exercises that make you hold your breath
Eggs have no effect, either positive or negative, on your blood pressure. However, their high protein levels can help prevent heart diseases.
The skin on chicken has high fat content which could raise your blood cholesterol levels and clog your arteries. This could in turn raise your blood pressure. Sometimes, processed chicken is injected with saline water to keep it fresh and plumped, which increases its sodium content significantly. Excess sodium in your food could raise your blood pressure.
Consumption of rice is not directly associated with high blood pressure. Whole grains like brown rice can help lower your blood pressure, whereas eating too much white rice can increase your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes, which can lead to hypertension.
Yes. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which helps eliminate excess sodium from your body and lower your blood pressure.