What Meats To Avoid With High Blood Pressure


What you eat everyday can have a significant impact on your blood pressure readings. Since most people are not vegetarians, the odds are you’re going to eat some kind of meat with almost every meal. Therefore, many people ask the following question, what meats to avoid with high blood pressure?

The following meats should be avoided with high blood pressure:

  1. Deli Meat
  2. Hot Dogs
  3. Sausage
  4. Pepperoni
  5. Salami
  6. Fatty Red meat
  7. Bacon
  8. Ham
  9. Beef Jerky
  10. Chicken With Skin
  11. Fried Chicken Wings
  12. Turkey With Skin

I’ll inform you why these meats should be avoided, after all, it’s beneficial to recognize why. In addition, there are two culprits which are common in almost all these meats. You’ll want to identify which ones because they should be avoided in all your food.

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what meats to avoid with high blood pressure

1. Deli Meat

Deli meats should be avoided because the manufacturers of these meats cure, season and preserve them with salt. Your body needs sodium to function properly, but the problem is most people consume too much of it. It can make your body retain excess fluid which can raise your blood pressure.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day and an ideal limit of 1,500 mg for most adults, especially ones with high blood pressure 1. Here’s a list of common deli meats and their sodium content:

Deli Meat 2 Slices – Sodium
Bologna 604 mg
Salami 362 mg
Turkey 400 mg
Ham 520 mg
Roast Beef 430 mg

The sodium milligrams in deli meat can add up pretty quickly 2. Let’s say you add two slices of bread (294 mg) one slice of cheese (174 mg) mustard (104 mg) and two pickle slices (170 mg). The total sodium is 1,346 mg for a lunch sandwich. 

Most people can easily add a second sandwich, a drink and in one simple lunch go over the daily recommended amount of sodium. In addition to the sodium, these meats contain unhealthy fat which can raise cholesterol and body fat over time.

While deli meats fit the criteria for a keto or low-carb diet, they’re not the best choice. If you’re interested in lowering BP with a keto diet plan, many people I know love this 28-day plan. Check it out by visiting their website here, Keto Diet Plan.

2. Hot Dogs

Hot dogs contains two nutrients which are the culprits for the criticism they receive. A standard 1.5 ounce hot dog contains 572 mg of sodium and 6 g of saturated fat 3.  

If you add a roll and some mustard the sodium total becomes 946 mg. If you eat two or three hot dogs, those alone puts you over the daily sodium recommendation. If you have some fries and baked beans (1,047 mg), the amount increases substantially.

Therefore, one hot dog, baked beans and french fries totals 2,263 mg of sodium.  

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans eat approximately 7 billion hot dogs. This is roughly 818 hot dogs per second!

A recent study evaluated over 40,000 people to evaluate the effects of processed red meat and blood pressure. The researchers found those who consumed processed red meat five or more times a week had a 17% higher rate of high blood pressure than those who consumed it less than once 4.

3. Sausage

There are many different kinds of sausages like Bratwurst, Polish, Italian and other traditional sausages. Many of them contain similar nutrients, other than breakfast sausages which are smaller in size.

One Italian sausage link contains 1,002 mg of sodium. If you’re eating it with pasta and tomato sauce it’s going to be extremely difficult to consume more potassium than sodium for the day. The potassium to sodium ratio recommendation is 4:1 5 which is crucial for helping the kidneys flush excess sodium from the body 6.

In addition to the sodium, one sausage link contains 22.7 grams of fat, 7.9 grams of them are saturated. This type of fat can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol.

The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat intake to less than 6% of your total daily calories. If you’re eating 2,000 calories, it’s approximately 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat.

One sausage link already puts you at 72% of the daily recommendation for saturated fat 7. It’s easy to see how fast the saturated fat grams can add up throughout the day.

While saturated fat doesn’t increase your blood pressure immediately, it does lead to an increase of body fat, weight and cholesterol. These conditions are associated with the risk of high blood pressure 8.

A study which included 104 people evaluated the association between processed meat intake and high blood pressure. The participants consumed protein foods divided into four groups: red meat, white meat, soybeans and processed meat which was sausage and ham.

They found an associate between consuming sausage and ham with a greater risk of high blood pressure. In addition, substituting one serving of processed meat with unprocessed meat resulted in a reduced risk of high blood pressure 9.

processed meats to avoid with high blood pressure

4. Pepperoni

Pepperoni is made from pork or a mixture of pork and beef. The meat is cured and seasoned with paprika and chilli pepper. One little slice contains 33.1 mg of sodium. It’s easy to add at least 10 slices onto a slice of pizza or a deli hero. That’s a total of 330 mg just from the pepperoni.

One slice of pepperoni has 9.9 calories, 7.9 of them coming from fat 10. Saturated fat makes up 33% of the total fat. Ten slices contains 3 grams of saturated fat. The combination of sodium and saturated fat makes pepperoni a food to avoid with high blood pressure.

5. Salami

Salami is similar to pepperoni. It is cured sausage consisting of fermented and air-dried meat, typically pork. A three slice serving contains 543 mg of sodium and 2.9 grams of saturated fat 11.

6. Fatty Red Meat

The fatty red meats to avoid are ones higher in saturated fats. Many studies have shown an association between saturated fat, high cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease. This relationship is a little complex because other studies have not substantiated this connection 12.

Most medical experts, cardiologists and the American Heart Association recommends lowering saturated fats. This is true especially if you’re trying to lower cholesterol levels, manage weight or high blood pressure.

In addition, the size of your serving should be a consideration. As a general guideline, one serving equals 3 ounces. I’m unsure about you, but I’ve never walked into a steakhouse and saw a 3-ounce steak as an option. Typically, they can range anywhere from 6 to 12 ounces.

Not all red meats have to be avoided. There are so many different varieties, and it can get confusing about which ones. Always check the nutrition label. The USDA has identified lean or extra lean cuts of beef 13.

Lean Cuts of Beef

The USDA defines a lean cut of beef as a 3.5 ounce serving containing less than the following:

  • 10 grams of total fat
  • 4.5 grams of saturated fat
  • 95 milligrams of cholesterol

Extra-lean Cuts of Beef

The USDA defines an extra-lean cut of beef as a 3.5 ounce serving containing less than the following:

  • 5 grams of total fat
  • 2 grams of saturated fat
  • 95 milligrams of cholesterol

Regardless of your choice of meat, follow these tips to reduce your fat intake:

  • Trim off any excess fat before and after cooking.
  • Always choose lean ground beef.
  • After cooking ground beef, always drain the meat.
  • If you’re unsure, always ask the butcher even in a supermarket.
  • Typically, meats labeled “Prime” have more fat than those labeled “Choice” or “Select.”
  • Pick meats that have less marbeling (visible fat).
  • Avoid fast food meat or burgers.

avoid these meats with high blood pressure

7. Bacon

Bacon is made from various cuts of pork and is cured with salt 14. Typically the pork comes from the pork belly or the less fatty back. If bacon didn’t have the following two ingredients, I would probably eat it everyday because I love how it tastes.

One slice of cooked bacon contains 137 mg of sodium. Typically, a breakfast place like a diner will give you four slices of bacon along side your eggs. That brings the total sodium to 548 mg. More than likely you’re having buttered toast and home fries on the side which increases the sodium total over the daily recommended amount.

In addition, the four slices of bacon contains 4.4 grams of saturated fat. If you love bacon as much as I do and you have high blood pressure, you’re better off skipping it and the buttered toast.

8. Ham

Ham is a processed pork meat that comes from the pig’s legs. Typically the ham is preserved with salt or smoke. There are various types of hame including the following:

  • Deli 
  • Honey Glazed
  • Country
  • City
  • Chopped
  • York
  • Prosciutto
  • Black Forest

No matter which one you buy they are all high in sodium content. One typical three ounce serving of ham contains 1,050 mg. 15.

Ham is not as high in saturated fats as some of the other meats in this article. One 3 ounce serving contains 1.4 grams of saturated fat. It’s the sodium making ham a food to avoid with high BP.

9. Beef Jerky

Who hasn’t grabbed any beef jerky while waiting in line at the grocery store or supermarket? It looks too good to leave alone, especially if you’re hungry for a snack. If you have high blood pressure, you want to think twice.

Jerky is lean meat cut into strips and dried. The drying process includes salt to prevent bacteria while the meat is dehydrating. In addition, it’s marinated with sauces, spices and other additives 16.

A one ounce serving of beef jerky contains approximately 506 mg of sodium 17. Just like ham, the jerky doesn’t haven’t too much saturated fat. One serving contains 2.2 grams.

10. Chicken With Skin

Chicken without the skin is perfectly fine and healthy, especially the white meat. A one ounce serving of chicken skin contains the following fat:

Total Fat: 11.5 grams

  • Saturated Fat: 3.2 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.4 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 4.8 g

Some recent research claims eating the skin is not bad for you. Others suggest eating the skin part of the time. I’m perfectly fine with leaving the skin off except for a special occasion where I’m cooking a whole chicken for a small family gathering.

If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, it’s best to cook your chicken without the skin and added fat content. In addition, avoid breaded or fried chicken, especially ones from fast food restaurants.

11. Fried Chicken Wings

I could have included this one in the last meat, chicken with skin. Instead, I decided to give it its section. Chicken wings have skin, but they’re also fried in unhealthy oil. Many people think wings are dark meat but they’re not.

Even though wings are white meat, they have more fat than the breast but less fat than thighs.

Chicken Part % of Fat
Breast (White) 0.7% Fat
Wing (White) 1.1% Fat
Thigh (Dark) 2.5% Fat

The average cooked fried chicken wing contains 6.3 grams of total fat of which 1.65 g are saturated. In addition each wing contains 120 mg of sodium. Eating ten wings alone will fulfill the daily recommendation for sodium and saturated fat.

12. Turkey With Skin

Turkey skin is similar to chicken skin but has a tad less fat. A one ounce serving contains the following:

Total Fat: 10.46 grams

  • Saturated Fat: 2.73 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.39 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 4.45 g

If you’re eating turkey once a year at Thanksgiving you should be more than okay eating the skin. If it’s something you eat all the time and have high cholesterol or blood pressure, you may want to peel off the skin.

Can You Eat Meat With High Blood Pressure?

You can eat meat with high blood pressure. The meat should be lean, low in sodium and unprocessed. In addition, the meat you eat should be low in saturated fats.

What Meats Are Good For High Blood Pressure?

After reading this blog post, you may be wondering, this is a lot of meat I should avoid. How about, what meats are good for high blood pressure?

The following meats are good for high blood pressure:

  • Chicken without the skin
  • Turkey without the skin
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Lean ground beef

The list above didn’t include pork. This may lead you to wonder, is pork meat good for high blood pressure? Fresh cuts of lean pork are naturally lower in sodium and good for high blood pressure. The pork should be unprocessed and not include bacon and ham. The lean pork should be grilled, roasted or baked and not fried in oil.

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Article Resources: Blood Pressure Explained follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. American Heart Association: Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure[]
  2. Nutritiondata: Bologna[]
  3. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council: A Guide to Hot Dog and Sausage Nutrition[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Processed and unprocessed red meat consumption and hypertension in women[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  6. The American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  7. The American Heart Association: The Skinny on Fats[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Obesity and Hypertension[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Association of Processed Meat Intake with Hypertension Risk in Hemodialysis Patients: A Cross-Sectional Study[]
  10. Nutritiondata: Pepperoni[]
  11. Nutritiondata: Salami[]
  12. ScienceDirect: The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease[]
  13. USDA: Beef from Farm to Table[]
  14. USDA: Bacon[]
  15. USDA: Ham[]
  16. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Physicochemical Characteristics of Beef Jerky Cured with Salted-fermented Anchovy and Shrimp[]
  17. USDA: Snacks, beef jerky, chopped and formed[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on blood pressure topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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