High Blood Pressure? Don’t Eat These 12 Items!

Wednesday May 28 | BY |
| Comments (1)

Blood Pressure

Pickles are good for you, right?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 67 million adults—about 31 percent—have high blood pressure. They go on to state that nearly 350,000 American deaths in 2009 included the condition as a primary contributing cause—1,000 deaths each day.

Often called the “silent killer,” high blood pressure, or hypertension, can exist for years without symptoms. Only about half of those with the condition have it under control. Many aren’t even aware they have it.

Get your blood tested to find out where you are on the blood pressure scale. (120/80 or less is considered normal.) Then, if you are diagnosed, consider taking the following foods off the table.

Diet Affects Blood Pressure

The Cleveland Clinic notes that certain foods can increase blood pressure. Those we hear about most are the ones high in salt, or sodium. Scientists believe that when we eat too much salt, it disrupts the body’s mineral balance, causing water retention and swelling the blood vessels with excess fluid. This increases the pressure in the blood vessels—resulting in an overall increase in blood pressure.

That means that eating foods lower in salt, in general, is a good idea when you’re concerned about blood pressure. Items particularly high in sodium include pickles, standard canned soups, sauerkraut, fast foods, processed meats like bacon and ham, frozen pot pies, frozen pizzas, Chinese food, canned tomato products, ramen noodles, and the like.

10 Foods to Avoid

In addition to avoiding high-sodium foods, think about taking these off the menu, as well.

  1. Sugar-sweetened beverages. A 2013 study found that drinking more than one sugar-sweetened beverage a day increased risk of high blood pressure. Researchers analyzed the diets of about 2,700 people aged 40-59 and found that those drinking more than one soda a day had higher blood pressure readings. The study didn’t prove that sodas caused high blood pressure—only that they were associated with it. Considering the high sugar content, however, this is a good one to avoid either way.
  2. Margarine. Though things are changing, many of the stick types still contain a good amount of dangerous trans fats, which damage blood vessels and lower good cholesterol. Look for soft tub brands instead.
  3. Bagels. Be careful—even if it says it’s made with wheat flour, it’s most likely “refined” wheat flour that’s been stripped of its healthy qualities. All you get is a ton of calories likely to spike your blood sugar levels and further reduce your heart health.
  4. Pasta. Especially if you’re eating out, this is a bad idea. The sauce is typically full of sodium—many times more than a day’s worth. Try asking for the sauce on the side, or make your own.
  5. Salt substitutes. These used to be found in the cupboard of every American with high blood pressure, but now we know that they’re often highly processed and contain high levels of other minerals that can cause other health problems. Choose real spices instead in their natural form.
  6. MSG. A couple studies have linked this food additive with blood pressure. Research published in 2011 looked at over 1,200 men and women, measuring their MSG intake and their blood pressure in 2002, following up again in 2007. They found that MSG intake was associated with a significant increase in blood pressure, and that women were especially affected. Worse, those regularly taking medications to lower blood pressure showed a strong association between MSG intake and an increase in blood pressure. An earlier 2010 study found similar results, with MSG found to elevate systolic blood pressure.
  7. Canned fish. Fish is good for you, so this may be surprising, but the problem is that a lot of canned versions are full of salt. Look for low-sodium options, or rinse well before using.
  8. Sauerkraut. This is a wonderfully healthy food full of probiotics, but unfortunately, also full of salt.
  9. Ketchup and barbeque sauce. Usually loaded with sodium. Look for organic options that are likely to have less.
  10. Miso soup. Again, healthy food, but usually contains 700 to 900 milligrams of sodium. Try to find low-sodium options.
  11. Low-fat cottage cheese. Rich in calcium and other nutrients, and usually low in calories, but high in salt. Try yogurt instead, or one ounce of shredded Swiss cheese.
  12. Alaskan king crab. Just three ounces will get you nearly a day’s worth of sodium. Try baked salmon or flounder instead.

Do you avoid certain foods because of high blood pressure? Please share your tips.

* * *


Ian J. Brown, et al., “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Sugar Intake of Individuals, and Their Blood Pressure,” Hypertension, February 28, 2011, http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/early/2011/02/28/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.165456.abstract?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=sugar-sweetened+beverages&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT.

Shi Z., et al., “Monosodium glutamate is related to a higher increase in blood pressure over 5 years: findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese adults,” J Hypertens. May 2011; 29(5):846-53, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21372742.

Baad-Hansen L, et al., “Effect of systemic monosodium glutamate (MSG) on headache and pericranial muscle sensitivity,” Cephalalgia, Jan 2010; 30(1): 68-76, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19438927.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Sorry to disagree with this author, but high blood pressure is caused by mineral deficiencies, specifically calcium and the other 59 minerals. A low-sodium diet is not the solution to high blood pressure. Since we have been on low sodium diets the heart disease numbers have not changed. This is supposed to help our blood pressure…then why do heart disease and high blood pressure still continue to plague us. The body needs the chloride ion from NaCL to make HCL too!

    Comments are closed for this post.