Apart from being one of the most widespread diseases around the world affecting 1.13 billion people worldwide, high blood pressure or hypertension is regarded as a leading risk factor when it comes to causes of death, including heart disease and stroke. Considerable evidence regarding the severity of this condition lies in the data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As reported by the said Centers, 45% of American adults suffer from this illness, with only 1 in 4 possessing full control over it. However, maintaining a healthy blood pressure is achievable adjusting your lifestyle and habits as well as not consuming foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat. We will provide below a set of foods to avoid along with high blood pressure friendly alternatives to go for in case you suffer from high blood pressure.
1) Sugar and Salt
Sugar and salt are among the main contributors to hypertension. Needless to say, packaged and fast-food ingredients include high levels of salt and sugar, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure levels. Consequently, it is extremely challenging to reduce your consumption of these substances without sacrificing some foods you really like.The American Heart Association (AHA), suggested that your consumption of sodium must not exceed 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium, that is the equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt a day. However, as far as Americans are concerned, nearly all the sodium they consume derives from processed foods instead of table salt. Hence, we recommend that you always verify the percentage of sodium included in the nutrition labels on packaged food and remain always alert when it comes to unlabeled foods such as rolls, bread as well as pizza. As for sugar, AHA declared that the healthy daily intake should not go beyond 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. In order to keep your salt and sugar consumption low, we recommend eating homemade unprocessed wholefoods.
2) Canned Beans
Aside from containing protein and vitamins, fresh beans embrace also fiber and minerals. As for canned beans, they possess a high level of sodium that serves as a preservative to ensure that it remains edible for a prolonged period of time. However, if you opt for purchasing canned beans, we suggest you drain and rinse the beans well prior to consuming it in order to decrease the level of sodium that it contains.
3) Canned Soups
Canned soups are another sodium-rich food in this list. For instance, a soul can of tomato soup may consist of 1,110 mg of sodium while a can of chicken and vegetable soup may contain 2,140 mg. Unlike the case with canned beans, you do not possess the luxury of rinsing the soup before eating it, and thus we propose that you opt for a homemade on or look for soups with low sodium levels.
4) Cooked Tomato Products
While harvesting tomatoes, firmer ones are selected over the ripe ones due to the fact that they can withstand shipping. It goes without saying that a firm tomato may not be rich in flavor. Hence, as a means to ensure the natural flavor of fresh tomatoes stands out, cooked tomato products usually include high levels of sodium among their ingredients. For instance, one serving of marinara sauce contains 566 mg of sodium, which is relatively high. Getting fresh tomatoes and making your own tomato sauces with other fresh and healthy ingredients is the ideal option for both a lively flavor and robust health.
5) Packaged and Processed Meats
Another high-sodium food in this list is packaged and processed meats such as dried meat, ham, bacon, and corned beef. Similar to most packaged foods, packaged and processed meats contain high levels of sodium that play the role of a preservative as well as flavor booster. That is why we recommend you consume only fresh and lean meat you purchase from the butcher instead of packaged white meat.
6) Frozen Meals
Frozen foods can seem like a great get to go when you are in a rush or cannot get yourself to cook. However, they are unhealthy as they contain tons of sodium along with high levels of saturated fat and sugar. To illustrate, in a pre-cooked 12-inch (approximately 30 cm) frozen pepperoni pizza you can find 3,140 mg of sodium, a level that is 840 mg higher than the suggested daily limit of 2,300 mg. That is because, as mentioned above, salt is used as a preservative. The risk you are facing in this case is not only a dangerous increase in your blood pressure, but also heart disease. For all the said reasons, we recommend you opt for low-sodium homemade pizza. Nevertheless, if you cannot make one at home, make sure the one you buy contains a low-sodium level by checking the label.
Candies are regarded as an example of empty calories. They are made of added sugars and contain little to no nutritional value, but they contribute to various health issues. The sole thing they provide is either high or low energy, which in turn can lead to exhaustion and losing the motivation to work. Moreover, consuming a large quantity of sweets can also cause an increase of weight and thus putting you at risk of obesity and heart illness. Therefore, as an alternative for sweets, you can eat fruits that contain natural sugars on top of other benefits which can aid you in terms of maintaining a healthy blood pressure level.
8) Soft Drinks
Similar to candy, soda contains high levels of added sugar and possesses no nutritional value aside from the fact that it offers an energy boost. These drinks provide extra calories but fail to make you feel full. Also, people who consume them may not burn those calories or at least eat fewer quantities of food, hence why they end up gaining weight and suffering from high blood pressure. We recommend you opt for natural alternatives. An example of which is making sure you remain hydrated and incorporate nutritional meals in your diet. You can also go for a cup of naturally flavored iced water or juice.
When it comes to sauces, if they contain a low amount of sodium, they would contain a high sugar quantity and vice versa. That applies to all sauces and condiments on a global scale. That is why, once again, you MUST check the label before buying the item. Otherwise, you can prepare your soup from scratch using fresh tomatoes, vegetables, and herbs. In other words, the ideal way to avoid high quantities of sugar and salt is to consume only homemade foods. Luckily, due to growing customer requests for healthier options, currently manufacturers as well as restaurants are modifying their ingredient sourcing. Finding a healthy homemade alternative is not a hard task. The immense challenge lies in the discipline required in order to change your salt and sugar intake.