21 Worst Foods For High Blood Pressure


High blood pressure, or hypertension as it is also known, is definitely no laughing matter. Around one in every three Americans has elevated blood pressure, which can result in a number of detrimental life-threatening conditions. Moreover, continued and uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to numerous cardiovascular conditions.

Hypertension can be prevented and mitigated through an active lifestyle, a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, it often needs to be controlled with medication. When it comes to nutrition, some foods are particularly unsuitable for people with high blood pressure and we will be taking a closer look at 21 of them.

1. Salt

Salt is definitely one of the worst foods, or more precisely condiments, for people who have elevated blood pressure or any other kind of heart disease for that matter. The main perpetrator in salt is the sodium, which has been found to have an immense impact on blood pressure.

The reason why salt is such an enemy for Americans with hypertensions is that we use way too much of it in our daily diet. For instance, Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that the daily intake of sodium for people with hypertension not exceed 1,500 milligrams. The problem is that an average American ingests more than twice as much.

This happens because we’re basically attacking our system with salt from all sides. We even add it to foods that have salt in them already. All prepackaged foods – such as frozen pizza, deli meat, fruit juices, canned products and canned soup – and fast foods include large amounts of sodium.


2. Stick Margarine

Another food that is high on the list of worst foods for people with hypertension is stick margarine. The reason? A high concentration of trans fats, which are fats that contribute to the creation of bad cholesterol in the body. They also lower the levels of good cholesterol, promote blood clotting and they can even cause damage to blood vessels.

Furthermore, stick margarine packs a whopping 100 calories in a single teaspoon, making it one high-caloric bomb that will definitely not be gentle on your hips. In general, a soft tub type of margarine is much better for you, especially if it is calorie-reduced and trans-fat-free.

The interesting thing is that older brands of stick margarine are even worse for you than butter, due to the abundance of trans fats found in them. On the other hand, you can nowadays buy brands that have very low amounts of saturated fats and boast much more unsaturated fats, which are much better for you.


3.  Soda drinks

Soda drinks are among the unhealthiest things that you can put in your body, for a plethora of reasons. For one, the simple fact that all of the calories found in them (100 percent) come from high-fructose corn syrup, meaning literally sugar. These are the emptiest calories that you can imagine and experts agree that they are the No. 1 reason for the large percentage of obese people in the United States.

Besides this, soda drinks can be quite harmful for your teeth and there have been studies that have associated cola drinks with weakened bones. Nutritionists will always recommend natural juices, water or even naturally flavored seltzer drinks (if you cannot live without the bubbles).

On top of all this, nutritionists also agree that drinking soda drinks can elevate your blood pressure. Assistant professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Science Center, Liwei Chen, MD, PhD, puts it very simple:

“Cutting back soda consumption will benefit your blood pressure.”

Fantastical milk background. Drops, waves, splashes.

4. Whole Milk

Whole milk, while a fantastic source of calcium essential for the health of your bones and some other processes in the human body, is definitely a food that can elevate your blood pressure. The source of the problem in this case is, once again, the high level of saturated fats.

Saturated fats, like we mentioned before, elevate bad cholesterol levels which can lead to clogged arteries, which in turn leads to elevated blood pressure as the heart has to pump harder in order to spread the blood throughout the cardiovascular system.

One cup of whole milk, for instance, contains 8 grams of fat, out of which five are saturated. As this can lead to heart disease and elevate your blood pressure, the best thing to do is to switch to 2 percent milk, or even 1 percent or skimmed milk. An even better alternative is soy milk which has been found to be superior in many ways.


5. Bagels

Everyone loves a bagel every now and then. Poppy seed bagels, garlic bagels, onion bagels – we love all of them. Unfortunately, bagels also happen to be a really unhealthy meal, no matter how you cut it.

The main reason for this is that regular bagels are made with refined wheat flour which has been processed so much that almost all of the nutrients and fibers found in whole grains are lost by the time they make it to a bagel. To make things worse, bagels are fantastically dense, which can only mean one thing – epic amounts of calories. We are talking so many calories that a single bagel contains the same amount of calories as five slices of white bread, which is not that healthy to begin with.

If you are really aching for a bagel, find someone who sells oat bran or whole wheat bagels. Then, hollow them out a bit in the middle and spread some light cream cheese or healthy nut butter of some kind on top.


6. Toaster Pastries

Many people like to start their day with toaster pastries because they feel they give them a bit of a boost in the morning. And they may be right. With all that sugar packed inside these things, it is hard not to get a rush. We are talking ten teaspoons-worth of sugar in a standard two-pack. In addition to this, these pastries are mostly made with white refined flour, which, as we’ve already covered, is incredibly bad for you.

These insane quantities of sugar early in the morning will only give you a temporary boost (caused by a dramatic elevation in blood pressure, among other things) which will only lead to a crash down the line during the day. Instead of toaster pastries, nutritionists recommend whole-wheat pita pockets that you can then cover with peanut butter and stuff with strawberries or sliced bananas.In any case, stay away from toaster pastries. These dramatic shifts in blood pressure caused by sugar are not good for your organism.


7. Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are often mentioned when discussing foods that are extremely unhealthy for you and there are some good reasons for this. First of all, that little meat that makes it into hot dogs comes from the worst parts of the worst-quality meat imaginable. Regular consumption of such processed meats has been associated with higher risk of colon cancer and heart disease among other things.

In addition to this, hot dogs are packing copious amounts of sodium, with one simple hot dog containing around 500 mg of it. When you consider that your daily intake should be under 2000 mg, it becomes obvious that hot dogs are not exactly healthy food.

Furthermore, hot dogs contain quite a lot of fats which make up for 80 percent of the calories. Nutritionists recommend that you start eating lean chicken or even turkey sausages instead. They contain much less fat and they also introduce high-quality protein.


8. Movie-theater Popcorn

Going to the movies is not complete without popcorn, right? Well, when you consider how bad movie-theater popcorn can be for you, you might change your mind. The reason why popcorn you buy at the movies is so bad for you is that coconut oil in which they’re popped, which is 90 percent pure saturated fat. And like we’ve already said, saturated fat = bad.

Things become even worse when you consider the portions. For instance, a medium size can contains as much as 20 cups of fat-covered popcorn, packing whopping 1,200 calories and more than 60 grams of fat. And that’s excluding the buttery topping which is a story in itself. It’s like you have eaten three large burgers and stuffed your face with an entire stick of butter.

Unfortunately, it seems that movie theaters will not be changing their practices any time soon so you will simply have to give up on the popcorn if you wish to keep your blood pressure in check.


9. Deep-dish Pizza

There is no denying that deep-dish pizza crust is one of the most delicious inventions in the history of humanity. Unfortunately, as is often the case, deliciousness is not exactly the best thing for your heath and your blood pressure. Added dough equals added carbs and calories.

And that is only the beginning. Add some greasy meat, pepperoni, sausage, whole-milk cheese on top and you got yourself an artery-clogging goodness that is definitely bad for your blood pressure. For instance, a mere two slices can pack around 1,300 calories and almost 25 grams of saturated fats. Now, that’s is a lot.

Fortunately, pizza can be much healthier than this. Go for thin crust and limit the meat toppings. Make it a more veggie-heavy experience with extra mushrooms, peppers, onions and fresh tomatoes. Your pizza will remain delicious while dramatically reducing the calorie count. There is really no reason to give up on your pizza. Just modify it.


10. Pickles

Pickles, as we all know, is just preserved cucumber. Of course, cucumber is not at all bad for your blood pressure. However, the brine in which they are preserved is. Brine is basically water and salt and like we learned, salt is really, really bad for blood pressure. The unfortunate thing is that salt is an irreplaceable ingredient when it comes to natural preservation of vegetables because it prevents decay and keeps food edible for extended periods of time.

The worst thing is that vegetables like pickles absorb the sodium in the brine and that the amount of sodium that enters them grows as time goes by. For instance, a simple dill pickle is able to absorb up to 300 milligrams of sodium. This may not sound like much, but when you combine it with other foods containing sodium, it can add up, especially if you cannot stop eating pickles once you start.

There are low-sodium pickles available on the market and they are definitely the better choice. Otherwise, you need to weigh the sodium you get in them against the nutritional value of actual cucumbers (which you can always eat fresh).


11. Canned Soups

Sometimes you just want something hot and comforting but you do not have the time to make it from scratch. The solution? Canned soup. Unfortunately, it turns out that canned soups are quite bad for you. This goes for canned stocks and broths as well.

Once again, the main enemy is sodium which can be found in exorbitant amounts in canned soups and the likes. For instance, there are soups which contain almost 900 milligrams of sodium in a single serving. This means that if you eat the whole can, you are putting in 2,200 milligrams of sodium in you, which alone exceeds the daily recommended dose.

Low-sodium alternatives are available, but it is far simpler and healthier to just make your own soup or broth. They are incredibly easy to make and the only problem is that they require some time. Still, when you are choosing between an hour or two and your health, the choice becomes quite clear.


12. Sugar

Sugar is another one of those so-called “white killers.” The list of “white killers,” includes salt and flour and it has been established beyond every doubt that excessive intake of sugar is bad for your health. The reason why we are including it on our list is that sugar leads to excessive weight and as anyone can tell you, excessive weight leads to high blood pressure in the vast majority of cases.

The biggest issue is that we ingest large amounts of sugar without even knowing it. It is usually included in different foods in it the form of high fructose corn syrup which is found in pretty much everything – from soda to ketchup, from tomato sauce to crackers.

Most nutritionists agree that the daily intake of sugar should not exceed six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men. The only problem is to correctly figure out how much you are putting in you via different foods.


13. Chicken Skin

There are not that many things in this world that can make a person as happy as the perfect piece of baked chicken skin. However, we’ll take some fried or grilled chicken skin as well. It is delicious. Unfortunately, that once again means that it is not good for you.

We are again coming back to the problem of saturated fats which have all kinds of negative effects on the human body and it goes without saying that something as delicious as chicken skin will be packed full of them. It is just one of those injustices of the world and you cannot do anything about it.

Things get even worse when we are talking fried chicken, mainly because the chicken is soaked in water and salt before frying. Since salt is one of the worst things for people with hypertension, this makes fried chicken particularly bad for them.


14. Alcohol

Alcohol is a complex issue when blood pressure is in question. On one hand, ingestion of alcohol can lead to a temporary drop in blood pressure. In cases of drinking too much in a single sitting, it can lead to a life-threatening lowering of blood pressure.

On the other hand, studies have shown that long-term drinking of excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to a rise in blood pressure. The more you drink and the more often you drink, the more pronounced the rise in blood pressure will be.

Finally, there is also the dual effect that drinking alcohol can have on the effectiveness of blood pressure medication. When combined, alcohol and hypertension medication can lead to extremely low blood pressure; but it can also lead to your blood pressure drugs not working as well as they can. In any case, if you have elevated blood pressure, you need to be extremely careful about your alcohol intake.


15. Refined Vegetable Oils

The connection between the increased use of refined and synthetic fats and the increase in hypertension, cancer, stroke and heart disease has been observed and studied for years. It is a connection that no one can deny and which everyone should be aware of.

Refined and overheated oils like corn, canola, soy and safflower oils contain high levels of these synthetic and refined fats and they are quite bad for anyone battling high blood pressure. This, of course, makes all foods prepared with such oils, especially fried, bad for you as well.

The best way to reduce the use of aforementioned oils is to switch to cold-pressed oils like olive, walnut, avocado, coconut, as well as flax, sesame and peanut oils. Many of these oils contain various substances that are actually good for your health and that will not interfere with your body’s natural ability to utilize essential fatty acids like refined, overheated oils do.


16. White Flour

The biggest issue with white flour is that it has been processed and refined to such a great extent that it has had as much as 80 percent of minerals, fibers and vitamins are removed. Unfortunately, it is still commonly used in baking of pretty much all baked goods.

White flour, among other things, is quite acidic and ranks high on the glycemic index, meaning that it is rapidly converted to glucose, thus raising your blood sugar levels quite dramatically. Furthermore, it holds little to no nutritional value since it is a simple carbohydrate.

People who need to control their blood pressure are usually recommended to remove white flour from their diet altogether. The good news is that it can be replaced quite easily with alternatives like whole grains, Khorasan wheat, quinoa and spelt.


17. Coffee

Most of us have a habit of starting the day with a cup of joe. It gives us that much-needed early boost that gets us through the first part of the day. The only problem is that this boost is closely connected to increasing blood pressure.The reason behind this is caffeine which is a stimulant and which gives you that energy boost.

Unfortunately, all stimulants also increase the blood pressure. This is why all caffeinated drinks, including coffee and a large percentage of soda drinks, are better avoided if you have hypertension. Most nutritionists and doctors recommend that you switch to green tea, preferably one that does not contain high levels of caffeine.

Green tea is a great pick-me-up beverage and it also contains certain chemicals which can help with heart disease, as well as high blood pressure. Perhaps the best advertisement for green tea is the fact that major green tea drinkers, the Japanese, have one of the best heart disease statistics in the world.


18. Frozen Foods

You have probably already noticed that foods which are preprocessed and refined rank among the worst for people with hypertension. As you might have come to expect, frozen foods also make the list.

The culprit is once again the dreaded sodium which has become something of a villain of the list. Namely, frozen foods often contain extremely high quantities of sodium, often in excess of 1,500 milligrams in a single dish. The number is actually nearing 2,000, meaning that you get your daily recommended dose of sodium in a single dish.

On top of that, many frozen foods do not even have enough vegetables for your daily requirements. If you cannot imagine your life without quick-fix solutions that frozen foods provide, prepare some meals yourself and then freeze them. Casseroles and lasagna are perfect for this.


19. French Fries

For most of us, the thought of a life without French fries is a bit too much. They have truly become one of the staples of Western cuisine and even culture. In keeping with the theme of our list, this innate deliciousness of French fries immediately entails their unhealthiness.  In fact, most nutritionists and doctors will agree that fries are among the worst foods for those battling hypertension.

For one, French fries are fried, which means that you will be ingesting significant amounts of saturated fats that we covered on a number of occasions in our list. On top of that (both figuratively and literally), there’s the copious amounts of salt that fries are most often drenched in.

Just in case you are still not convinced that salt is bad for your blood pressure, we give you the words of associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cardiovascular Institute, Dr. Peter J. Counihan:

“There’s no doubt that people with a high salt intake eventually develop high blood pressure.”


20. Donuts

We are, unfortunately, taking on another American favorite on our list and this time it’s donuts. Experts agree that regular, run-of-the-mill donuts are one of the unhealthiest snacks that are available.

It is all about the numbers with donuts – a single donut packs more than 300 calories, 54 percent of which are empty carbs, while 42 percent come from fat. Donuts are fried and this means that they contain a whole lot of trans fats. In fact, donuts have more trans fats in them than chips. A small bag of cookies is less strenuous on your body than a single donut. Remember, we are talking about one solitary donut here.

When you factor in the toppings which often contain copious amounts of sugar, it becomes quite clear that donuts are best avoided if you are trying to put your high blood pressure under control. We understand that giving up on donuts may seem like too much, but they are just too bad for you.


21. Red meat

While recent studies show that red meat may not be as bad for you as they had you thinking all these years, there is still enough evidence to recommend reasonable intake of this type of meat, especially for people with high blood pressure.

The reason why red meat is worse for your cardiovascular system than seafood and leaner meats is the high concentration of saturated fats which, as we all know by now, lead to increased cholesterol levels and clogging of the arteries. This is why most experts and medical professionals recommend that you strictly control your intake of red meat.

In case you are wondering which red meats are the worst for your blood pressure, here is a short list: lamb, sausage, pork, beef and bratwurst. They are especially bad for you if they are fried. Instead, experts recommend low-fat sources of protein that are much better for you.

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