High Blood Pressure: Why Your Lunch Might Be To Blame

Most people probably don't think about their blood pressure until a visit to the doctor reveals that it's high. Hypertension, as it's defined by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, is a blood pressure reading of 130/80 or above, and nearly half of American adults have it. Of those, only a quarter of people have it under control.

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Those are concerning statistics considering that hypertension is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke and heart attack, two leading causes of death in the U.S.

When it comes to high blood pressure, there are any number of factors that people can't control like family history, genetics and age. But some of the biggest contributors are a result of unhealthy habits like smoking and alcohol use, not exercising enough and being overweight.

A diet high in sodium is another cause of high blood pressure. Though it's tempting to blame your salt shaker, you might want to take a closer look at your lunch instead.

While table salt accounts for less than 30% of the average American's daily sodium intake, the rest comes from processed and prepared foods, often the ones you don't think about.

Among the culprits are sandwich favorites like cold cuts and cured meats. Breads and rolls can also be high in sodium. Not surprisingly, pizza from your favorite chain and burgers make the list of foods you should avoid as well. One of the biggest sources of sodium, however, is canned soup, a lunchtime staple for many adults.

A single can of chicken noodle soup contains a staggering 2,225 milligrams of sodium, which nearly meets the maximum daily recommended amount of 2,300 by the American Heart Association. The ideal amount, especially for people with high blood pressure, is only 1,500 milligrams.

It's something to keep in mind the next time you're making lunch. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options like salad and tuna that are not only healthy, but are among the foods and drinks that can help lower blood pressure.