Top 15 Foods to Avoid if You have Hypertension

Health Visitor Taking Senior Man's Blood Pressure

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Right now, in America, one in three adults suffers from high blood pressure. For this reason, the topic of dietary recommendations is quite popular. Generally, the cause of hypertension (high blood pressure) is due to a high sodium intake, low potassium intake, and a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Those who suffer from high blood pressure are recommended to avoid foods high in sodium and fat. You should never consume more than 1,500mg of salt or sodium per day.

So, if you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from this chronic illness, you should read the following list of the top 15 foods you absolutely must avoid.


1. Deli Meats

All processed meats are absolute sodium bombs! You need to include bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and even ham in this list as well. Deli meats are cured, preserved, and seasoned with tons of salt. Just two ounces of most lunchmeats can set you back more than 600mg of sodium. Salami and pastrami are two of the worst as they are high in both fat content as well as high in sodium. Once you add bread, pickles, cheese, a dab of condiments, and that quick and easy sandwich has become a bucket of sodium. Try sliced turkey breast fresh cut from the deli counter can be a good choice. A 2 ounce slice of turkey breast has about 440mg of sodium. Prepackaged turkey breast can have 529 mg for 2 ounces and only 0.5 grams of fat and a skinny little 67 calories. Some deli counters even have low sodium turkey breast options.


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2. Frozen Pizza

You should think of every pizza as a giant, pepperoni covered stop sign as they are all bad for anyone who needs to watch their intake of sodium. The combination of bread, sauce, cheese, and cured meats spells disaster. Frozen pizzas are even worse than fresh for those suffering from high blood pressure.

To keep pizzas tasting fresh, manufacturers add a bunch of salt. Just one sixth of a frozen pizza can have as much as 1,000mg of sodium, and some even more! That’s a one sixth option; a “normal” sized slice that most pizzas call for can have 2400mg of sodium. Wow! Believe it or not, freshly made pizzas from some of the chain restaurants are much lower. A cheese pizza can have between 490 to 900mg per slice. Add pepperoni and the sodium content now runs around 680 to 1,010mgs.

Ditch the pepperoni and choose a vegetable pizza. Their sodium content is almost identical to a cheese pizza. Skip pizzas with thicker crusts, extra cheese, and cheese filled crusts, and extra toppings will have even more sodium.

Food Cans For Charity

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3. Canned Soup

Yes, those cans of soup are super easy and convenient when you don’t have time to cook or don’t feel well, but canned soups are made with a lot of salt. Even canned or boxed broths and stocks contain more sodium than you need. Some brands of soup have as much as 890mg of sodium in just one serving!


SEE ALSO: 8 Things to Eat to Naturally Lower Blood Pressure


Eat that entire can of soup and you’ve just consumed about 2,225mg of sodium. That’s almost two days’ worth of sodium just in a can of soup! Aim for a serving of soup at around the 350mg level. If the soup has some hearty vegetables, such as potatoes, broccoli, or squash, you can push it to 480mg but it might still be a good idea to dilute it with some extra water. There are plenty of low sodium (sometimes called reduced sodium) options available. These would be smart choice for those who need to keep their blood pressure down.

canned tomatoes

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4. Canned or Bottled Tomato Products

Unfortunately, most products made with tomatoes are going to be a problem if you have hypertension. Canned or bottled tomato juice, sauce, stewed, pasta sauce or spaghetti sauces are all dangerous sodium traps.

A mere one half cup of plain marinara sauce can have more than 450mg, a full cup of tomato juice at 650mg or more. Look for those low-sodium and reduced sodium versions. If you really love tomato sauces, consider making your own at home from scratch. Fresh tomatoes have the second highest level of potassium of any vegetable, which is good as adding potassium lowers the salt level in the body.

Almost all spaghetti sauces, pasta sauces, and pizza sauces can be made from home very easily using fresh, organic tomatoes. The internet is full of recipes, especially low salt recipes. So make it fresh yourself. This way you can avoid all the excessive sodium and still have that Friday night spaghetti fest.

sugar cubes

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5. Sugar

Everyone knows that eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, obesity, and diabetes but did you know that excessive sugar is also a cause of hypertension? Studies show that persons who consume more than what is considered an average amount of sugar were twice as likely to have blood pressure levels above 160/100.

Sugar in all its forms, and especially those high sugar sodas, have contributed to a vast increase in obesity in all people of all ages. The USDA conducted a study which showed that consuming more than the equivalent of 2.5 cans of soda per day was enough to push most people’s blood pressure into the hypertension range.

Persons who are overweight or obese tend to have higher blood pressure. Although the USDA does not currently have a recommended limit for sugar intake, but the American Heart Association does. They recommend no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women and men limit their intake to 9 teaspoons daily.


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6. Coffee

For those with prehypertension or regular hypertension, consider dumping your coffee habit. Those cups of Joe in the morning can cause your blood pressure to spike.

Some persons who regularly drink coffee or caffeinated drinks have higher average blood pressure than those who do not drink caffeinated drinks. Although caffeine doesn’t seem to have a long term effect on blood pressure, it does seem to have a stronger effect in increasing the blood pressure in men who are overweight or more than 70 years of age.

The reason for this is not clear. If you drink coffee regularly, or drink it throughout the day, this might be the major contributor to your high blood pressure. Any caffeinated drink, actually, can cause your blood pressure to rise. Other caffeinated drinks include sodas, energy drinks, and caffeinated tea. Even many herbal teas have caffeine, so look for teas that state they are caffeine free.

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7. Pre-Packaged Foods

If you have high blood pressure, you need to avoid saturated fats as well as trans- fats. Trans- fats are made during a process called hydrogenation.

Many liquid oils are infused with air to make them into a solid form. Trans-fats are found in many pre-packaged foods such as breads, cookies, and crackers. Hydrogenated oils are what keep packaged foods stable and able to sit on the shelf for long periods of time without spoiling. Be sure to read the labels regarding the sodium content of these foods.

First look at the amount of sodium per serving size. (Check to see that it’s a reasonable portion. Some foods put ridiculous serving sizes so they can list their product as low sodium. Two tablespoons of soup, for example, is not a reasonable portion) Then how much sodium is in each serving. Although nutrition labels on these foods can help you find foods with the lowest sodium and fat content, keep in mind that foods with no labels are the best choice. (Such as organic produce)


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8. Pickles

Pickling is actually a process where foods are preserved by fermenting them in a solution of vinegar and/or brine (salt water). This gives food a sour-salty taste. In the USA, the most common food we eat are cucumbers that have gone through this process and are called pickles. Although pickles are low in calories and fat yet high in flavor, they are a very popular snack. Unfortunately, they are also full of sodium. A medium sized pickle can have as much as 570mg of sodium, more than 1/3 of your daily recommended intake amount. This isn’t limited to actual pickled cucumbers, either. Think pickled anything, including pickled peppers, cauliflower, herring, ginger, Giardiniera, eggs, lemons, Tursu, and some relishes. Limit those pickles and make them a treat or, if you really love them, have perhaps one small pickle per day. You could always make your own low sodium version at home.


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9. Alcohol

OK, so alcohol isn’t a food, but excessive alcohol will raise your blood pressure to very high levels. Having just three drinks at one time will temporarily increase your blood pressure and repeated drinking can lead to long term hypertension. Alcohol will also cause damage to the blood vessel walls.

If you have hypertension, avoid alcohol as much as possible or, if you must indulge, drink in moderation. Moderate consumption is considered to be two drinks per day for men less than 65 years of age, and one drink per day for men over 65. For women, one drink per day no matter their age. One drink is considered to be 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor such as vodka or whiskey. If you are a heavy drinker and want to cut back to lower your hypertension, be sure to cut back gradually.

Heavy drinkers who suddenly stop or cut back drastically are at a great risk of developing extremely high blood pressure for several days afterwards. It might be best to consult your doctor if you drink heavily. Find out more how one drink kills ine person every ten seconds. 

Sauerkraut With Carrot In Wooden Bowl, Garlic, Spices, Cabbage O

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10. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a pickled cabbage, which means it’s fermented with salt water and vinegar. Although it’s true that sauerkraut has multiple health benefits, including iron, fiber, and several vitamins.

It’s also great at cleansing the blood and bowels. Sauerkraut is also a predigested food source, which means that it’s easily absorbed and digested by the body. Sauerkraut is also helpful at reestablishing the good bacterial flora in your colon, something that is extremely important to the overall health of the body. However, even with all these health benefits, you should seriously consider limiting the amount you eat or buy low-sodium options if you want to lower your blood pressure.

Just a half a cup has more than 460mg of sodium, almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake. There are plenty of low salt recipes online that you can make yourself for a healthier option rather than the high salt foods sold in supermarkets.

turkey bacon

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11. Bacon

Ok, let’s say it up front, BACON TASTES GOOD. Very, very good, and, like almost all pork products, it contains minerals like iron and zinc, along with B vitamins, and oleic acid, the same acid that’s in olive oil, and all of these things are good for your health.

So why do so many people avoid pork, especially bacon? Its super high in sodium and fat, the two things you need to avoid to lower your blood pressure. (We haven’t discussed nitrates here because they aren’t an issue with hypertension, but the nitrates in bacon are very unhealthy on another level) A mere three slices of bacon has 4.5 grams of fat and 270mg of sodium.

Sometimes bacon is smoked first, and this adds even more sodium. Bacon doesn’t always come from pigs; however, you can find bacon from other animals such as turkey or chicken. Try one of these other, lower salt meats instead of pork bacon for that bacon taste without all the salt.

Man Choosing Donut Instead Of Apple

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12. Donuts

Well, no one would ever put donuts on their healthy list, we know, but many people don’t realize just how bad these can be for you, especially if you suffer from hypertension.

An average donut can have more than 300 calories, a whopping 12 grams of fat, and because they are deep fried, they are full of both trans-fat and saturated fat, all of which greatly increase your risk of heart disease. Many of the dough’s used also have salt in them. You might want to consider exchanging that donut for a bowl of whole grain cereal, or oatmeal, in the morning. A few healthy whole grains to consider are quinoa, amaranth, barely, rye, teff, wild rice, and non-GMO grains such as corn, and buckwheat.

You can still enjoy breakfast, and start your day off right while potentially extending your life by avoiding foods that will dangerously raise your blood pressure, such as doughnuts, and exchange them for healthier options.

milk is bad for you

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13. Whole Milk

If you are working out and trying to build muscle, whole milk is a great choice, but it actually has more fat than your body needs.

Just one cup whole milk has 8 grams of fat. When you have high blood pressure, you need to lower your fat intake, so try drinking 2 percent milk, or fat free milk. Saturated fats and trans-fats drastically increase your risk of becoming overweight, which, in turn, greatly increases the chance that you will develop high blood pressure.

The saturated fats in whole milk are not good for your heart, either, and can lead to heart disease. Besides whole milk, consider cutting down on the foods that come from whole milk and have high fat content such as butter, margarine, regular salad dressings, ice cream, whole milk yogurt and cheeses. Always seek out low fat milk products and low fat yogurt and cheese.

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14. Ramen Noodles

These are a popular meal when you don’t have much money or time or those times you want something hot for lunch but don’t have many cooking options.

These are not a very healthy meal choice, however, as they have very few nutrients and hove lots things in them that are very unhealthy. Typically, ramen noodles have a block of pre-fried noodles and a seasoning package. There are ones that come in a cup where the seasoning package is already dispersed in the noodles.

If you read the package, many of them state that they contain 2 servings but everyone eats the entire package. A typical package of ramen has 14 grams of fat, 6 of which are saturated fat, and more than 1700 grams of salt, more than 70 percent of your daily recommended intake!

If you buy the kind with the separate flavor package, you can skip most of the sodium by not using it.

Salt spilling on table from salt cellar

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15. Salt

Although this might seem like a no-brainer, some people end up eating more sodium than they should simply because they don’t read labels. Sodium is hidden in all sorts of foods, some of them you would never even think of. You don’t have to touch that salt shaker on the table to get an overload of salt. Some of the hidden sources of salt include: meat extract or meat tenderizer, onion salt, soy sauce, barbeque sauce, taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, mustard, ketchup, tartar sauce, tamari, steak sauces, breads and rolls, peanut butter, cottage cheese, breakfast cereal, pasta, biscuits, popcorn, all frozen meals, smoked fish, tortillas, anchovies, olives, pre-made gravy package and canned gravy, bouillon cubes, pancake mix, bagels, tuna, pita bread, canned beans,( including baked beans), diet sodas, ( although they have less sugar, they have a lot more salt), stir fry seasoning, some brands of mayonnaise, and Dutch-processed cocoa. Read more about different types of salt and their pros and contras.