Having genetically high blood pressure or unavoidable stress is things out of your control. Eating foods that cause high blood pressure is something you can change. Sometimes it seems harder than what it really is. Making simple adjustments and eliminating those foods off your shopping list are things you can accomplish. So what are those foods?
What are foods that cause high blood pressure? The top foods that cause high blood pressure are:
- Refined Carbohydrates
- Low Nutrient Rich Foods
- Added Sugars
- Excess Sodium
- Saturated Fats
- Trans Fat
Why these foods? These foods have been proven in research over years to raise blood pressure. In addition to high blood pressure, they have other negative effects on your health (r). I’ll explain to you how these foods raise your blood pressure and what specific kind of foods fit into each one of these categories.
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Foods That Cause High Blood Pressure
Most nutrition experts agree refined carbs should be eliminated from your daily nutrition as much as possible. Unfortunately, refined carbs are the main source of dietary carbs! Refined carbs have been stripped of most of its vitamins, minerals and fiber.
These carbs lead to spikes in blood sugar and insulin right after eating them. Eating a lot of refined carbs and low fiber have been linked to type 2 diabetes, overeating and obesity (r). Increases in blood sugar activate the sympathetic nervous system which raises your heart rate and blood pressure (r). In addition, weight gain and obesity put you at risk for high blood pressure (r).
The following are some refined carbohydrate foods:
- All kinds of flour
- Most breads
- Most pastas
- White rice
Low Nutrient Rich Foods
Low nutrient foods are low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. In addition, they have many calories and other things bad for you. These foods lack nutrients beneficial for high blood pressure. Magnesium, potassium, calcium and fiber are just a few proven by research to help lower blood pressure (r). Foods low in nutrient density include:
- Refined carbs
- Hot dogs
- Processed foods
- Sugary cereals
- Ice cream
- Most salad dressings
- Most sauces and gravies
- Potato chips
( Looking For Foods To EAT THAT REDUCE BP? Check out my blog post right here – 24 Foods To Reduce Blood Pressure)
Foods with many added sugars can cause high blood pressure in many ways.
- High sugar can spike insulin levels which activate your sympathetic nervous system. This raises your heart rate and constricts your arteries raising BP (r).
- Sugar has been shown to lessen the sensitivity of the receptors that regulate BP (r).
- Sugar depletes your cells energy stores which leads to constricted blood vessels (r).
- In addition, added sugars can translate into weight gain which raises your risk of high blood pressure (r).
Foods high in added sugars:
- Most breakfast cereals
- Ice cream
Sodium is not bad for you but it gets a lot of negative attention. We need sodium in our diet. The bad thing with sodium is most foods are too high in it. Excess sodium throws off the delicate potassium/sodium ratio beneficial for high blood pressure. Too much sodium will lead to excess fluid build-up which will raise your blood pressure (r).
The American Heart Association recommends about 1,500 mg a day (r). People who sweat a lot during the day will require more sodium than that. Many foods have much more than that in just one serving. One popular fast food meal contains 1,785 mg of sodium alone. Another high sodium food tops the following list:
- Take out Chinese food
- Canned beans
- Canned tomatoes and sauce
- Frozen pizza
- Deli & processed meats
- Canned soup
- Fast foods
Saturated fats are fat molecules saturated with hydrogen molecules. They occur naturally in food and are solid at room temperature. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats. Years of research have proven they can raise your bad cholesterol and put you at high risk for heart disease (r). Dietary fat is also a risk factor for high blood pressure. Studies have shown reducing total fat intake can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (r).
Some argue saturated fats are not bad and are somewhere in the middle of bad and good. Because many saturated fats are high in things good for BP like calcium, magnesium and potassium. I would rather stay on the safe side and avoid them as much as possible and get the proper nutrients from other foods.
The following foods are high in saturated fats:
- Fatty meats – Beef, lamb and pork
- Chicken with skin
- Dairy products made with whole milk
Trans fat is the worst kind of fat for you. They have no known health benefits, and no level of trans fat is safe.They increase bad cholesterol and lower the good. In addition they create inflammation and insulin resistance (r). This can increase your blood pressure.
They are so bad, the United States have banned them. In 2015, the FDA gave food makers 3 years to eliminate artificial trans fat from their products. Even though, it’s still possible to buy products with artificial trans fat produced before the ban (r). In addition, the FDA allows companies to put 0 trans fat if the product still contains trans fat but less than 0.5 grams per serving. To avoid this, check the label for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
These foods can contain artificial trans fat:
- Vegetable shortening
- Certain vegetable oils
- Fried fast foods
- Bakery products made with vegetable shortening
- Certain microwavable popcorn
- Certain non-dairy coffee creamers
- Some frozen pizzas
- Certain crackers
- Some potato chips
The other trans fat is natural. Natural trans fat is formed by bacteria in the stomach of some animals. They make up about 3-10% of the fat in beef and lamb, 0-2% in chicken and pork and 3-7% of the total fat in dairy products like cheese and milk (r). These foods may contain some natural trans fat:
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