Food That Causes High Blood Pressure

By Robert Vaux

  • Overview

    High blood pressure is a health risk that can cause considerable trouble if not addressed. Specifically, it can damage the blood vessels--subjecting them to increased strain--which in turn damages the liver, kidneys and heart. The risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or similar maladies goes up considerably along with your blood pressure. In order to keep it within reasonable levels, doctors suggest a number of healthy lifestyle choices, including avoiding certain foods which may contribute to the problem if consumed in large amounts.
  • Salty Foods

    Sodium is a leading cause of high blood pressure and many foods we eat today have huge amounts of salt in them. Doctors believe that the average adult requires 400 to 500 mg of sodium each day. In reality, most adults likely receive over ten times that amount through fast food, junk food and recipes high in salt. Pay attention to the amount of sodium listed on food packing and stay away from salt shakers at home or in restaurants. Generally speaking, if you can taste the salt, there's too much on the food.
  • Fatty Foods

    Going hand-in-hand with salty foods are foods with a high amount of saturated fat. (Fat can clog the blood vessels and increase the pressure exerted by the blood itself.) Most forms of fast food and fried foods contain high amounts of saturated fat; just remember that breading is usually dipped in boiling fat. Red meat is another high-fat food, as is deli food (including pickled foods) and dairy products with a lot of whole milk in them.

  • Alcohol

    In very low levels, alcohol can be beneficial to the heart, but consuming alcohol on a regular basis will weaken the walls of your blood vessels and increase the risks from high blood pressure. Ideally, you should cut it from your diet completely. Otherwise, try to limit it to a single glass a couple of times a week or less.
  • Butter, Oils and Dressings

    A number of garnishes contain high amounts of salt and fat, which spell trouble for your blood vessels. This includes butter and margarine, salad dressing, sauces such as soy sauce and barbecue sauce, meat tenderizer, ketchup, mustard and anything with MSG. Try to focus on natural herbs and seasonings to use as a garnish rather than fatty sauces.
  • Canned Foods

    A number of canned foods, particularly soup, contain a lot of sodium as a preservative. Check the labels carefully and stay away from those brands that have excessive sodium.
  • Cold Cereal

    It may seem hard to believe, but some types of cold cereal--especially those which are particularly sweet--can cause high blood pressure. Instant hot cereals such as instant oatmeal fall into this category too.
  • Smoking

    Though it is not strictly a food, nicotine is one of the primary causes of high blood pressure. It causes the blood vessels to constrict, increasing the stress on the vessel walls as the pressure builds. Cigarettes and other tobacco products kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, and quitting improves health in far more ways than simply lowering blood pressure.
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