If an individual has high blood pressure, he/she is aware that certain foods can affect the blood pressure, but one might not know how the diet plays a role. Generally, most cases are categorized as essential hypertension where there is no evident cause for it.
Most cases though are caused by lifestyle, especially the diet. Even though there are factors that increases the risk for atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke, controlling the blood pressure is an initial step in minimizing the risk.
A diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains and fish is recommended to maintain the blood pressure in the healthy range. The DASH diet which includes these foods is the easiest way to stay in the right track.
Foods to be avoided
Knowing what to eat is one factor but there are certain foods that can raise the blood pressure and must be avoided.
A diet that is high in sodium is not beneficial for the heart. It is recommended to consume not more than 1500 mg of sodium per day to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Most of the sodium are acquired from processed foods, restaurant foods and pre-packaged foods. High-salt content foods include canned soups, deli meat, breads, rolls, pizza and pasta dishes.
Consumption of natural foods (unprocessed) is the easiest way to reduce sodium from the diet. Fresh herbs, salt substitutes and spices, citrus, garlic and vinegar can spark up the flavor of dishes.
Remember that added sugars do not contain any nutritional benefits, but the extra calories can lead to rapid weight gain. Being overweight or obese can cause the heart to strain, thus increasing the risk for high blood pressure.
Common food culprits include the following:
- Soft drinks
- Sugary cereals
- Fruit drinks
Take note that soda is the worst since it causes a brief spike in the blood pressure if consumed.
There are various added sugars in processed foods. It is vital to check the nutritional labels and look for names such as sucrose, maltose, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, raw sugar and cane sugar. Remember that these are all the added sugars that must be avoided.
Even though drinking in moderation can reduce stress and the blood pressure levels, overdoing can result to the opposite effect. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the risk for high blood pressure, stroke, alcoholism and even obesity.