It is expected for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout our lives but we still need to monitor what we eat to make sure it remains low and healthy. For example, every meal we eat can contribute to hypertension in some way or another.
Even though exercising regularly can help us reduce this, we can also do our part by avoiding foods which are high in sugar or salt. Here are some of the foods that help and hinder your blood pressure as you get older.
Avoid – Pot Pies
Before we get going, we’re going to spill a very big secret: sodium is bad for our blood pressure. *Sarcasm fully intended* Pot pies contain 1,400 mg of sodium and 35 grams of fat (and not the good kind!).
These local snacks are incredibly unhealthy and should not be eaten unless for very rare or special occasions. If you want to lower the chance of high blood pressure, just avoid this meal. And that’s just the pastry – not even thinking about the rest of the ingredients inside the pie!
More – Leafy Greens
Potassium can help your kidneys get rid of excess sodium – something that highly contributes to high blood pressure. It mainly found in leafy greens, such as lettuce or arugula.
Next time, consider adding some fresh greens into your meals – and watch your blood pressure lower! You may have resented your parents when they forced you to eat your greens, but you’ll thank them now!
Avoid – Cheese
Everyone knows cheese is delicious. However, we must think of how much salt is in these little blocks of goodness. Cheddar cheese has 621 mg of sodium per 100 grams, which is considered a lot but not nearly as bad as others.
Gouda cheese has 819 mg of sodium per 100 grams, and American cheese has 1,671 mg of sodium per 100 grams. That’s a lot! Next time, make sure to cut down on the amount. It’s not bad if you cut it out completely, but this would be a sad day indeed.
More – Berries
Berries, particularly blueberries, are full of natural antioxidants and compounds called flavonoids. This has been proven to reduce hypertension and can lower your blood pressure. It’s fairly easy to add a few berries to your day-to-day diet.
Strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries can all be eaten as a snack or added to granola in your mornings. The sweet snacks can improve your mood and health – with very few drawbacks.
Avoid – Candy
An obvious one – we’ve known this since we were little kids! Your favourite sweets are full of sugar like high fructose corn syrup content, which could lead to weight gain, kidney disease, or accelerates diabetes. Ultimately, all of this can lead to high blood pressure in the end.
Not to mention, candy also rots your teeth and gives you acne and many many other problems, so just avoid the stuff! Next time you eat your favourite bag of skittles or chocolates, think of the long term damage.
More – Oatmeal
This is the perfect breakfast food: oatmeal is high-fibre, low-fat, low-sodium, and delicious way to reduce your blood pressure. It’s a great fuel to keep you going throughout the day and can be the base for berries – also a great superfood!
Oatmeal can help you make cereals, granolas, and dishes to keep you full-up for a long time, also reducing snacking. This can also help you lose weight. Try some oatmeal each morning!
Avoid – Soft Drinks
Similar to candy, drinking soft drinks is also a big problem. These sodas are highly addictive and leave you to wanting more and more. Soft drinks are full of sugar and can cause blood pressure spikes.
According to The American Heart Association, it is not recommended to consume more than 355ml per week. If you must, keep it to the ‘diet’ versions which don’t contain sugar. They might not taste as nice but they could save your life.
Avoid – Energy Drinks
The major difference between energy drinks and your occasional soda is that these contain caffeine. Caffeine is known to cause a brief but intense increase in blood pressure, spiking your energy levels. Now, consider how these energy drinks have sugar and caffeine together in one can.
Drinking caffeine-added drinks spike the caffeine effect for around three to six hours, making it hard to sleep in the evenings. It’s better to have a cup of coffee if you can – and withhold the sugar!
More – Omega-3s
Fish are a great source of lean protein and omega-3s. Fish with good fats, such as salmon or mackerel contain high amounts of acids which reduce blood pressure. They also have vitamin D – which few foods contain.
Preparing fish can be a quick and easy meal – simply bake or fry a fillet of salmon or mackerel for a few minutes in the oven. Or better yet, eat it in sushi, which is one of the most popular foods.
Avoid – Sauce
Hear us out on this one. Condiments like mayonnaise, gravy, ketchup, and salad dressing are high in sodium and raise your blood pressure. Consider the danger of hot sauce which has 2,643 mg of sodium per 100 grams – even a few drops are deadly.
Oyster sauce has 200 mg per gram, and even mustard has 300 mg of sodium per gram. If you can’t live without your spice, consider changing to chilli flakes at your next meal, or none at all.
More – Garlic
This one isn’t recommended for all our Vampire readers, we know we have one or two! Garlic can reduce hypertension by raising the amount of nitric oxide in the body. This increases the widening of arteries and thus reduces blood pressure.
Including garlic and other herbs into your diet isn’t just healthy, it’s delicious! Try sprinkling other herbs over your fish, such as basil, cinnamon, thyme, and rosemary. But be sure to brush your teeth after!
Avoid – Pizza
We’re surprised we haven’t scared you away from this article yet! That’s right: everyone’s favourite meal is high in sodium and fat – hardly surprising when you consider its ingredients. Even a normal pizza is full of salty cheese, fatty bread, and sodium-ridden tomato puree.
Usually, everything that’s bad for you is on a pizza – which is what makes it so delicious. We all deserve a cheat meal once in a while, but remember the damage this can do if you eat too much!
More – Dark Chocolate
That’s right, dark chocolate is good for you! In small doses, of course. One study from 2015 found that consuming dark chocolate helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. This particular chocolate has more than 60% cocoa solids and less sugar than milk or white chocolate.
It can be eaten as a quick snack or enjoyed as a late-night treat to quench those pesky cravings. Maybe melt some and dip strawberries into it? Overall, A great snack which also reduces your blood pressure!
Avoid – Red Meat
Of course, red meat is good for you in small doses due to the proteins it provides. However, be mindful that red meat contains high levels of saturated fat that could clog your arteries. If you don’t want to stop eating red meat, that’s fine – but be sure to limit it to once a week.
Alternatives to red meat can include fish, chicken, or even tofu. We’re not saying you should or have to go full-blown vegan, but your arteries will thank you if you eat red meat sparingly.
More – Pistachios
This particular nut is a great way for you to reduce blood pressure. It reduces peripheral vascular resistance – otherwise known as blood vessel tightening – and can improve your heart rate.
It’s easy to have a small bowl of these power nuts as a snack, or simply add them into a salad or pesto sauces. Be mindful of the fact that they contain a bit more fat than other nuts, which can lead to weight gain if not countered with brisk exercise.
Avoid – Processed Meat
This involves all your favourite meat: sausages, hot dogs, smoked meats, salamis, or anything that’s been processed. You might ask why: it’s our good old friend, sodium, of course! These particular dishes also have lots of saturated fats and preservatives to keep the products long-lasting.
None of this is good for you, so consider changing your diet to accommodate your veins. Eating might not be fun from now on, but at least you’ll be healthy and that has to count for something?
More – Olive Oil
Olive oil is a great example of ‘healthy fats’ that can reduce blood pressure. It has compounds that fight inflammation – a leading cause of high blood pressure. According to the DASH diet, it can help you reach your goal of healthy fats each day with just one portion.
You can go hardcore and gulp down a tablespoon of olive oil every morning or keep it simple and use it as a salad dressing. Just make sure to through a few chilli flakes to add to the flavour! You can also use it as a replacement to canola oil or butter.
Avoid – Ramen Noodles
College kids everywhere will be disappointed to know that those instant noodles we all lived on contain deadly amounts of sodium. Ok, so maybe not deadly – but 1,580mg of sodium is enough to watch out for it.
This is already more than the amount you should have in an entire day – so one meal will set your health back badly. It may be tempting to save a buck and indulge in these treats, but the health consequences can be tragic.
More – Bananas
Since potassium is a great way to filter sodium out your body, bananas are a great addition to your diet. Eating these fruits is better than taking supplements and can easily be incorporated into your diet.
You can cut one up into your oatmeal or simply have one as an after lunch snack. They do a great job at counteracting some of the more dangerous foods in your diet that contain high levels of sodium through high amounts of potassium.
More – Pomegranates
Pomegranates can be enjoyed on their own or as a juice. Just one cup of pomegranate juice a day can lower your blood pressure in four weeks. It’s best enjoyed with breakfast (remember your berry oatmeal!).
Be mindful of some of the sugar contents – even though it’s natural sugar it might not work with your diet. Next time you’re choosing what juice to drink each morning, consider pomegranate for your breakfast!
Avoid – Alcohol
Are you so depressed by this list that you want to drink your troubles away? Well, not so fast! Alcohol intake can lead to incredibly high levels of blood pressure. This is due to vasoconstriction, meaning the vessels get tightened when alcohol is consumed.
This makes the blood pump with more pressure in the arteries, leading to terrible results. What’s more, there’s also high amounts of sugar that can lead to weight gain and high blood pressure in its own right.
More – Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice that can have wonderful effects on your blood pressure. Three different studies have shown that cinnamon reduced short-term systolic blood pressure – but admittedly more research is needed.
You can incorporate cinnamon into your diet by sprinkling it over your oatmeal in the morning. It’s generally considered a great alternative to sugar and can have great effects on your blood pressure.
Avoid – Bacon
We’re surprised you haven’t given upon us. We’ve already ruined candy, pizza, and alcohol – now here comes the big one: Bacon. Of course, bacon is delicious which means it must contain high levels of sodiums and fats.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, consuming only three slices of bacon is the same as 576 mg of sodium. You might want to curb this breakfast habit which might be the brightest part of your day.
More – Watermelon
Not only does watermelon keep you hydrated, but it also contains an amino acid called citrulline, which can manage high blood pressure. Citrulline helps the body produce nitric oxide, the same gas found in garlic that relaxes blood vessels – reducing blood pressure.
People that drink watermelon juice have roughly 50% less plaque in their arteries than those who don’t. It might be tricky to eat this consistently due to its seasonal nature, but never pass up the opportunity to have some!
Avoid – Pickles
Pickles are generally stored in jars with pickle juice. These juices are, naturally, made with salts meaning these yummy green sticks might do more damage than good. Since they’ve been sitting in the jar for weeks, maybe months, you can’t just rise these suckers dry – they’ve already absorbed enough salt to kill you.
Next time, it’s best to eat your pickles unpickled or like we call them, cucumbers! The chances are you either love these pickles or hate them – if you hate them then you’re in the clear!
More – Lentils
Lentils and other pulses are great ways to get protein and fibre into your diet. Pulses such as beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas can decrease your blood pressure by expanding the blood vessels in your body.
In fact, one study in 2014 showed a 30% decrease when studied in rats. Lentils are also pretty versatile – you can use them as a replacement to minced beef and add them to soups.
Avoid – Coffee
Similar to the threat from energy drinks, coffee contains high levels of caffeine which can have bad effects on people with high blood pressure. Thankfully, it won’t have too much of a negative effect on people with low blood pressure, although you might get the shakes if you have too much at once.
Even with that, It’s better to limit your coffee (and caffeine) intake to just one or two cups in the morning and avoid it after lunch, all together. Or, you can always go decaf. We know that sounds impossible but think of your poor heart!
More – Kiwis
If you have raised blood pressure, kiwis are a great way to reduce it. According to scientists, eating three kiwis a day for 8 weeks is better than eating an apple a day in terms of blood pressure.
This might be tricky to include into your diet at first, but consider putting it in your morning oatmeal! Kiwis are also rich in vitamin C and can improve blood pressure with the addition of vital nutrients.
Avoid – Butter and Margarine
You might love spreading these on your sandwiches, but they can have huge consequences on your blood pressure. Butter and margarine contain large amounts of fat that can clog your arteries, forcing your heart to pump faster
Naturally, when more pressure is applied to your heart, it raises the risk of heart attacks and subsequent heart diseases. Of course, it’s delicious, but you might want to reduce your intake.
More – Natural Yogurt
If oatmeal isn’t your thing, you can always rely on yoghurt to help reduce your blood pressure. According to The America Heart Association, middle-aged women who eat natural yoghurt show a 20% reduction in the risk of hypertension.
You can always add things like fruit, nuts, or cinnamon to your portion – but be wary not to add sugar! Unsweetened options, such as Greek yoghurts, will have a better effect than the sugary counterparts.
Avoid – Premade Soup
If you’re going to enjoy Campbell’s soup, you better make sure it’s in painting form only! These (and plenty of other brands) contain large amounts of, yeah you guessed it, sodium. Only one tin can have 800 mg of sodium – which is more than your recommended daily intake.
They might appeal to the lazy chef who doesn’t want to cook one night, but these can have terrible effects on your body. It’s best to avoid them and stick to healthier, fresher, options.
More – Sprinkles of Seeds
Unsalted seeds such as flax, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds can have wonderful effects on your blood pressure. You can easily add them to oatmeal or yoghurt each day and watch your blood pressure lower.
This is because seeds are an essential source of minerals for your body, such as magnesium. Magnesium helps relax your blood vessels, and in turn, your blood pressure and solves a myriad of health problems.
Avoid – Popcorn
You might hear in some places that popcorn can be a relatively healthy snack. If you’re surprised to see it on this list, then you might not be thinking about all the added salt, sugar, butter, and cream dropped on top of each portion.
If you want it to remain a healthy snack, avoid all the salt and any other delicious toppings you might enjoy. Even then, it still has a lot of carbs – so it might be better to stick with carrot sticks in the future.
More – Beetroots
Many studies have shown that drinking beetroot juice can help your blood pressure in only a few hours! You can make it a cocktail: two parts beetroot and one part apple juice to improve the taste.
When it comes to eating beets, men will see a greater benefit than women. Beets contain high levels of potassium, which can reduce blood pressure. Make sure to have a few glasses of this a week and watch your blood pressure return to normal!
Avoid – Canned Beans
These snacks are full of sodium and preservatives – known to increase blood pressure. If you eat these at meals, be sure to wash them under water to remove some of the salts attached. Generally, it is better to avoid these dishes in their entirety.
They can be bad for you in the long term and contribute to heart attacks in the future. That, and they can cause embarrassing gas, too! Next time, make sure to buy them fresh and enjoy the taste even more.
More – Apples
It’s true what they say – an apple a day does actually keep the doctor away! Apples contain a flavonol called quercetin. This is also found in other foods, like onions, citrus, broccoli, and beets.
One study shows that participants that a positive reaction to incorporating quercetin into their diet compared to those taking a placebo. If you have high blood pressure, consider eating an apple at lunch!
Avoid – Fried Food
The Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University states that fried foods can contribute to raised blood pressure. Predictably, it’s caused by the increase in sodium and saturated fats absorbed by the yummy food.
So you might want to think twice about eating fried foods, such as fried meats to fried doughnuts. You might not like the sound of this now, but your future self will thank you when you don’t contract diabetes at 50.
More – Hibiscus Tea
If you’re lucky enough to have a Hibiscus tree in your garden, you’ll want to pick a few flowers and brew yourself a nice pot of tea! It turns out that Hibiscus is a good source of organic acids.
These acids are good for the cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure and making sure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t have a Hibiscus plant, you can always buy in the store.
Avoid – Whole Milk
Whole milk is usually reserved for cooking doughs and creams. Unfortunately, it carries a lot of saturated fats that aren’t good for us. It’s better to replace whole milk with skimmed or semi-skimmed, especially if you frequently consume the dairy product.
You can also consider omitting it entirely, like drinking your tea or coffee black. If you’re like this writer who consumes dozens of cups of tea a day, then bypassing milk can be a great way to restrict the intake. But you might want to start with changing to skim!
More – Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be considered a ‘superfood’ due to all the benefits they bring when consumed as part of a healthy diet. One of the biggest reasons that they are good for blood pressure is the amount of potassium they contain.
Even a slight increase in potassium in your diet can have life-changing effects on your health. It’s easy to bake some potatoes and have them as a side dish for your next meal. They are also great for salads!
Avoid – French Fries
You can blame a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for ruining your love of fries. They found that frequent consumption led to high blood pressure due to the way they are cooked.
It turns out, if you deep fry something multiple times, it won’t have a good effect on your health. Who would have thought it? *Sarcasm* If you still don’t understand that fried food isn’t good for you, then all hope is lost!
More – Mango
It’s possible to treat yourself to a sweet dessert every so often – and what better to eat than a mango? As well as the sweet and juicy tastes you experience with each bite, this fruit is actually great for blood pressure, too.
They’re a great source of fibre and beta-carotene, both of which have been proven to lower blood pressure. If you don’t like eating them raw, try putting them in a freezer overnight and turn it into a sorbe
Avoid – Sauerkraut
Yes, this type of vegetable might be one of your favourites, but that’s because of the relatively high amounts of sodium found in it. An average portion has 460 mg of sodium which is already a third of your recommended allowance.
Sauerkraut is a popular addition to salads or hot dogs, but you might want to curb it next time you eat out. Try replacing it with cabbage or lettuce, two items far more healthy. It might not taste as nice, but your veins will thank you later on!
More – Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers are a great addition to a salad or sandwich if you want to watch your blood pressure. Not only are they a great source of vitamin C, but they also help with hypertension in the veins.
Different coloured peppers have slightly different tastes, so make sure to find which ones you like most. This writer has a soft spot for yellow and orange peppers – and avoids green ones at all costs!
Avoid – Pretzels
These popular bar snacks may look harmless but are unhealthy in a myriad of ways. First, they are made with white flour which turns from carb to sugars when cooked. What’s more, pretzels are later deep-fried, which absorb all the fats found in the oil.
Then, they’re usually sprinkled with salt! This means that each portion contains an absurd amount of fats, carbs, salts, and sodium. Just 10 pretzels are more than your recommended daily intake.
More – Apricots
Apricots can help you slash your blood pressure and lower your chances of chronic disease in the future. You can use apricots in salads, desserts, or even as a healthy snack. We personally, love them raw!
They contain high levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene which are both great for overall health and blood pressure. Apricots also have a large amount of fibre in them – making them a superfood all around! If you don’t already, try adding some of these to your diet.
Avoid – Baked Goods
It’s a sad day when you must acknowledge that all your favourite baked goods are bad for you. It’s no surprise: they contain high amounts of carbs, sugars, fats, and white flours – all recipes for high blood pressure.
Next time you have a breakfast croissant or eat your mother’s banana bread, consider the effect it will have on your health in the long run. We recommend sticking to a sandwich if you need bread in your diet – which this writer definitely does!