According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 32 percent of Americans — one in three adults — has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. That’s 70 million adults; another 70 million have prehypertension, or blood pressure that’s not quite high enough to be considered diagnosable hypertension, but is still abnormally high.
Of those with hypertension, only about half have their condition under control. High blood pressure is responsible for 1,100 deaths each day, according to data from 2015.With these statistics in mind, we decided to compile a list of foods and drinks that could raise your blood pressure even higher.
Dr. Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC, a cardiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders, told The Daily Meal, “It is important to be aware of foods that are more likely to affect our blood pressure in a negative way. Many social activities involve eating and drinking with friends and family, and so it is essential to understand which foods to avoid and which foods should be approached with moderation.”
Campbell explained that “diet can also play a very important role in the treatment and control of blood pressure.” He mentioned that improvements in diet can have such a powerful effect on blood pressure that some patients can eventually stop the use of medications that have been prescribed for controlling hypertension. However, it is essential that patients never start or stop any prescription medication without a doctor’s supervision.
“By working closely with your doctor to modify your diet, you can prevent many of the negative health consequences of high blood pressure,” Campbell concluded. Limiting your intake of these foods could help, since they could be putting your blood pressure through the roof.
Not only can alcohol be detrimental to your sex drive, but studies have shown that drinking more than one drink per day can actually increase your blood pressure by several points. Sure, each country defines a standard drink differently and drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can be healthy, but avoid drinking one too many. It’s a safe bet that three or more American serving sizes of booze (that’s three 12-ounce beers, five-ounce glasses of wine, or 1.5-ounce shots of liquor) classifies as a dangerous amount for your heart.
Just three slices of regular old bacon contain roughly 4.5 grams of fat and 270 milligrams of sodium. If you’re enjoying one of these 12 delicious, unique BLT recipes, you’ll probably be using more than just three slices of this salty fat bomb, making BLT less “Bacon Lettuce Tomato” and more “Big Lardy Tubes” (those are your arteries we’re joking about here, folks).
Bread isn’t always bad for you, carbs or not. But some bread is more processed than others, resulting in added sodium and sometimes even refined sugars. Tortillas are another culprit of hidden sodium — as if your cheesy meal on Taco Tuesday didn’t have enough sodium already. Just one small tortilla can contain nearly 10 percent of your daily recommended limit of sodium.
These processed, store-bought tomato sauces can contain a great deal of sodium (one popular brand has 480 milligrams per half-cup serving) and can directly affect the ability of the kidneys to remove excess water. Water retention contributes to elevations in blood pressure, placing your heart into overdrive. If you’re interested in trying one of our best spaghetti recipes, we suggest making your own homemade sauce and being wary of the amount of salt and salty ingredients that you add in.
Bad news, mac and cheese lovers: Cheese might be chock-full of nutrients, but it’s also full of sodium. Before you go stock up, consider the following facts about cheese and its heart-harming saltiness. Roquefort cheese, as delicious as it may be, contains 507 milligrams (21 percent of your recommended daily intake) of sodium per serving. And let’s be real — are you really eating just one 28-gram serving? Per 28-gram serving, queso seco contains 21 percent of your daily sodium intake. Romano, classic pairing for parmesan, clocks in at 17 percent and blue cheese at 13 percent. The next time you’re deciding which cheese is best for a grilled cheese, keep those numbers in mind.
Yes, America’s Chinese restaurants are phenomenal, and you no doubt enjoy eating their vast, varied, delicious offerings as much as anyone else. What makes the food taste so good, though? Sodium — one of Chinese takeout’s many secrets. A common entrée such as beef and broccoli (even if it’s an Americanized “Chinese” food that you won’t actually find in China) can contain almost 3,000 milligrams of sodium (and you thought Roquefort cheese was bad). If you add soy sauce, you’re adding an additional 1,000 milligrams. A salt load of this caliber can substantially raise blood pressure and cause you to retain excess fluid. Consider ordering your meats and vegetables plainly seasoned instead of slathered in salty, sugary sauces.
Caffeinated beverages such as coffee can cause a significant spike in blood pressure, something that’s bad for your heart and your sex drive. Caffeine may cause your adrenal glands to release excess cortisol and adrenaline — substances that typically cause a rise in blood pressure and can make your anxiety worse. Keep tabs on your caffeine intake if you’re worried about your blood pressure. Do you know which type of coffee contains the most?
A delicious deli meat sandwich can be life-changing, but you might want to think twice before packing a turkey and cheese for lunch every day. Cold cuts contain shocking amounts of sodium for their small servings. Just one slice of cold cuts can contain around 400 milligrams of blood pressure-raising sodium.
The average serving of fast-food fries can have nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium in just one serving. Some chains keep the sodium content much lower — McDonald’s fries might contain some sketchy ingredients, but they only have 190 milligrams of sodium per serving. Just don’t go sprinkling too much salt. One little salt packet goes a long way!
Everyone falls victim to laziness now and then; a frozen meal can be a cheaper option than takeout for when you can’t get yourself to cook. However, these meals tend to be loaded with sodium and sugars in their syrupy sauces. Avoid the unhealthiest frozen dinners and opt for these healthier options instead.
Before you reach your hand into that bowl of salted pretzels, remind yourself that there are about 1,030 milligrams of sodium in just 10 of the crunchy little guys. That’s 43 percent of your daily recommended sodium allowance. Choosing a soft pretzel or any other amazing type of pretzel from around the world isn’t much healthier. One salted soft pretzel can contain upwards of 550 milligrams of sodium, an amount that no heart will enjoy processing. If you love these snacks too much to pass on them entirely, consider opting for unsalted pretzels to keep the sodium count down. Dipping them in peanut butter or hummus can add a little nutrition and a lot of flavor!
From regular old pickles to pickled peaches and other surprising pickled foods, anything soaked in brine is probably loaded with sodium. Just one dill pickle spear has about 380 milligrams — and have you ever eaten just one pickle? Yeah, neither have we.
A single serving of chicken pot pie has about 1,400 milligrams of sodium and 35 grams of fat. That’s more than 50 percent of your daily recommended intake for both — and that’s just one recommended serving. Lower your blood pressure by avoiding the chicken pot pie altogether and trying one of these healthy grilled chicken recipes instead.
While there are all kinds of incredibly tempting ways to cook with ramen, you might want to consider ditching the sodium-filled packet and making a healthier dish with the noodles instead. One package of generic ramen noodles can contain an astounding 1,580 mg of sodium. Without the packet, the noodles alone have about 500 milligrams of sodium. Is that “chicken” (or “chicken nugget and French fry”) flavor really worth it?
Red meat: To eat it or not to eat it, that is the question. While there are plenty of reasons people should and shouldn’t eat red meat, a potential rise in blood pressure is certainly something that could put you in the “red meat sucks” camp. An 18-ounce ribeye from one of our favorite steakhouses isn’t just meat — there’s going to be salt and a buttery finish involved almost every time. A ribeye of that size can contain around 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
It’s not just salt that those with hypertension should worry about. According to a 2014 study published in the journal Open Heart, excess refined sugars in your diet could contribute to high blood pressure. Nutritionists have some conflicting opinions regarding whether it’s okay to eat sugar and sweets — most say it’s probably fine to eat a doughnut now and then. Just watch out for your body’s signs you’re overdoing it!
Certain sodas have as much sugar as macaroons and ice cream, and you better believe that such sweet soft drinks can wreak havoc on your blood pressure. Switching to diet soda might not be a good idea, either — even diet sodas can have some unfortunate health effects.
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