High blood pressure or hypertension is a common precursor to serious health problems, including heart attacks and strokes. A staggering 45% of the US population suffers from hypertension at any given time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, it is not genetics alone that can contribute to your hypertension risk over time. Your diet plays a significant role in your likelihood of developing high blood pressure – and in many cases, the condition with the appropriate changes can change or even reverse. Read on to find out which of your food choices can cause your blood pressure to creep into dangerous areas, according to experts. And if you want to improve your health the easy way, check out the 7 Healthiest Foods You Can Eat Right Now.
If you want to lower your risk of high blood pressure significantly, this is a good place to start limiting your consumption of fried foods.
“If you eat fried food like fried chicken [and] French fries . . . you increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, “says Nicole Weinberg, MD, a cardiologist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Not all medicine in the world can offset a terrible lifestyle, “she warns.
For more incentive to abandon these deep-fried dishes, check out these dangerous side effects of eating fried foods, according to Science.
Sodium can make a difference in your blood pressure – and you probably consume more of these things than you think. About 90% of the population in the United States uses an excessive amount of sodium, according to the CDC.
If you want to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, “reduce sodium intake with the optimal goal of no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day,” says David Cutler, MD, a family physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
Unfortunately, salt can hide in many seemingly harmless foods. “Premixed spices often have huge amounts of hidden sodium, some examples being lemon pepper, garlic salt, dry rubs and other spice blends,” says Megan Byrd, RD, of The Oregon Dietitian, who recommends creating your own salt-free spice blends instead.
RELATED: Sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!
It is not only your liver that alcohol can wreak havoc on – it can also make a number of your blood pressure. Among a study of 17,000 American adults, those who consumed between seven and 13 drinks a week had significantly higher rates of high blood pressure than tee totals, according to a 2019 study presented by the American College of Cardiology.
“Alcohol consumption can lead to a decrease in kidney function, which can result in high blood pressure,” adds Spencer Kroll, MD PhD, FNLA, of The Kroll Medical Group.
And if you are considering cutting back on drinking, check out these surprising side effects of not drinking alcohol, according to experts.
If you want to get your blood pressure in a healthier range, this is a good place to start limiting your sugar intake.
“Sugar is inflammatory and increases cardiovascular risk,” explains Alexandra Lajoie, MD, a non-invasive cardiologist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center.
In fact, the consumption of added sugar was significantly associated with high blood pressure in children, according to a 2014 review of research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Are you looking for more incentive to make Meatless Monday a part of your regular routine? Skipping these animal protein-based dishes may just be the key to lowering your blood pressure.
Delicatessen is a major contributor to blood pressure problems, according to Alicia Galvin, RD, the dietitian at Sovereign Laboratories. “Processed delicacies and lunch meats are high in sodium,” says Galvin. “This is because producers cure, season and preserve these meats with salt, and a serving can have almost half of your daily sodium needs.”
Regardless of sodium content, cooking meat at high temperatures contributes to high blood pressure risk, according to research presented at the 2018 American Heart Association Meeting.
Want to start making smarter choices with your favorite proteins? Check out the 30 best and worst packaged delicacies.
Strange, though it may seem, if you eat a significant amount of licorice, you can send your blood pressure to dangerous area.
“Glycyrrhizinet [in licorice] can get your heart rate up at an abnormal rate and increase your blood pressure, “says Alexandra Soare, RD, of Food on Mars.
However, Soare notes that this typically happens when someone eats more than 100 mg of glycyrrhizin a day – more than most people eat with moderate licorice consumption. And if you are eager to improve your health, you should experience these side effects by giving up sugar, according to science.