Blood flow helps to carry oxygen and nutrients to different areas of the body. Blood vessels help to carry the blood to all tissue in the body – the blood that is carried through this system is rich in both nutrients and oxygen.
Normal blood pressure levels mean arteries are generally healthy, and the patient may not be at serious risk of problems like heart disease.
Some foods raise blood pressure levels. Consistent high blood pressure can lead to a health condition known as hypertension. This condition makes a person much more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
The primary issue, however, is that many people do not realize they have high blood pressure before they start to suffer its consequences.
This post is all about helping patients realize what foods they should not eat to keep blood pressure low. We take a look at foods that raise blood pressure. We also consider foods that lower blood pressure.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Before taking a closer look at hypertension, in particular, let us first consider what blood pressure is. Blood pressure is a term that tells you how hard your heart needs to work to pump blood throughout your body.
Your heart needs to work effectively and pump blood to all areas of your body – as cells depend on nutrients and oxygen to produce energy. The strength at which blood pushes against the walls of blood vessels is what a blood pressure test tries to determine.
When the blood pushes more significantly against the walls of your blood vessels, it means your heart is working harder to pump blood through your body. This is usually the case with people who suffer from high blood pressure.
During a blood pressure test, a doctor will look at two different values. These include systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Each plays an essential role in allowing a doctor to determine if a particular patient has hypertension.
High blood pressure means the heart is working overtime. This causes strain on the heart. It also puts more strain on blood vessels and arteries.
Hypertension means a person is at a higher risk of developing certain complications.
Heart attacks are more common in people with high blood pressure. The same applies to the prevalence of strokes. Men are also at risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction. Healthy blood flow is crucial for normal erectile function.
One study2 considered the potential prevalence of hypertension. Participants in the study were aged between 20 and 79 years.
Among those who agreed to have their blood pressure taken, an average of 23.5% had measurements associated with hypertension. There was a higher prevalence of hypertension among male participants.
Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
A significant concern about hypertension is that most people will not experience early signs of the condition.
Even when no symptoms are present, blood vessels are still damaged in the process. The condition tends to cause gradual damage. As the damage dealt with the blood circulatory system increases, complications can develop.
There are a few potential symptoms that patients should be wary of, however. In some cases, symptoms of hypertension can be subtle.
They may be taken for something else. Some people may not consider these symptoms severe. Yet, they signal the presence of something much larger in the patient’s body.
People who experience these symptoms are generally advised to see a doctor. When the patient describes the symptoms to the doctor, hypertension may be suspected.
In this case, a blood pressure test will help to determine if the patient might be suffering from this condition.
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pounding chest
- Pounding in the ears or neck
- Vision-related problems
- Breathing difficulties
In the majority of cases, these symptoms will develop when the patient has abnormally high blood pressure. As blood pressure levels increase, the symptoms may also become worse.
Headaches can become severe when blood pressure is very high. There may also be confusion in the patient. Some patients complain about chest pain if their blood pressure rises to a significantly high level.
In cases of extremely high blood pressure, there is also a chance that blood can appear in the patient’s urine.
In male patients, another sign to look out for is a reduction in erectile function. This may be present even when the man tries natural remedies to improve erectile function.
What Is The Relationship Between Diet And High Blood Pressure?
Many people fail to realize the role of their diet in certain conditions. Overeat sugar, and the patient is at risk of type 2 diabetes.
With the right foods, reversing type 2 diabetes even becomes a possibility. The same factors apply to those individuals whose blood pressure levels are too high.
Foods contain nutrients, as well as chemicals that interact with the human body. In some cases, this interaction is positive.
The nutrients help cells function, for example. Many chemicals are known to possess specific medicinal properties.
In these cases, the consumption of certain foods may help to produce certain effects – such as to improve the regulation of blood pressure in the body.
On the other hand, eat foods with too much sodium content, and the patient finds themselves with an elevated blood pressure level. Sodium is not all that contribute to higher blood pressure; however – but it is one of the more important factors that are often noted by doctors.
7 Foods That You Should Avoid For High Blood Pressure
Food plays a major role in the regulation of blood pressure in a person’s body.
Just like how a diet for people with diabetes would include foods to eat and foods to avoid, so should a meal plan focused on a person with hypertension.
Many foods can contribute to an increase in blood pressure. Some of these foods do have a more significant impact, however. We will consider seven of the most important foods to avoid with high blood pressure.
Salt intake is generally considered the biggest culprit when it comes to foods that increase blood pressure. Salt is high in sodium. This is the chemical that gives the salt its particular taste. It is also the chemical that raises a patient’s blood pressure levels.
In fact, salt is not only a problem in terms of high blood pressure. Salt has also been shown to be a serious factor in heart disease.
Patients should try to limit their consumption of sodium to less than 1.5 grams per day. Unfortunately, it does seem like most people eat far too much sugar. One report claims that the average person in the United States consumed over 3.4 grams of sodium each day.
2) Canned Soup
Canned soups make life significantly more convenient. Simply heat the soup up and serve it. Unfortunately, this is yet another culprit. Canned soups contain high amounts of sodium. As we mentioned in the previous point, sodium causes high blood pressure, therefore a low-sodium diet is preferable.
Patients do need to realize that it is not only canned soups that are of concern here. Canned beans, packaged stocks, and even soups and broths are also high in sodium. Half a cup of canned soup contains about 900mg sodium. One can loads a person up with about two grams of sodium.
Sugar is most often something that comes to mind when looking at diabetes management. What many do not realize is that sugar affects blood pressure regulation too.
The primary concern here is weight gain. Foods high in sugar, tend to be high in calories, which in turn, can result in weight gain. In turn, this leads to obesity. Several publications have confirmed a link between obesity and hypertension.
While not a food, alcohol is another important factor to avoid. When a small amount of alcohol is consumed, blood pressure may be reduced. Drink too much alcohol, however, and blood pressure starts to increase.
A spike in a person’s blood pressure levels is expected when they surpass three drinks. This accounts for a single sitting. When a person drinks too much on frequent occasions, it can lead to long-term hypertension.
5) Processed Food
Processed foods are also convenient but not good for the body. These foods contain several preservatives. They are generally also rich in sodium. These ingredients, particularly sodium, cause blood pressure levels to spike. It is a better idea to cook with fresh foods instead.
6) Canned Tomatoes
Just how canned soups and processed foods are overloaded with sodium, so are canned tomatoes. The culprit here is not only regular canned tomatoes.
Pasta sauce and tomato sauce generally also contain added salt. The salt causes an increase in the person’s intake of sodium. This leads to a spike in blood pressure levels.
Just a single cup of a canned tomato juice can contain over 600mg of sodium content. Marina sauce, which is particularly popular, contains about 800mg of sodium in a single serving.
7) Frozen Pizza
This one may cause a lot of disappointment, but frozen pizza should also be avoided. The problem here is that frozen pizzas are generally pre-cooked. They are simply popped into the oven for a few minutes to warm them up – and then the pizza is ready to serve.
To preserve the flavor of the pizza’s toppings, most food manufacturers will add salt. A lot of salt, actually. This means the pizza will cause high blood pressure.
Foods that Lower Blood Pressure Quickly
While many foods cause high blood pressure, some foods can do the opposite. A healthy diet with the right foods can help people with hypertension.
Knowing what food to eat, however, is important. By considering foods that lower blood pressure, it is possible to reduce the damage hypertension deals to blood vessels.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) in particular has been scientifically proven to help reduce blood pressure.
A recent study demonstrated that higher adherence to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet was related to reducing the risk of having a stroke compared to lower adherence.
It is particularly important to focus on potassium-rich foods. Potassium is an electrolyte that may assist with blood pressure regulation in the body. In fact, potassium may also reduce the effects that sodium has on blood pressure. This means all meals with sodium should also contain some foods that are high in potassium too.
A high-fiber diet is also often recommended. Fiber helps to improve digestive function. It may also help to reduce blood pressure.
Other foods to include that may help with the regulation of blood pressure include:
- Pomegranate juice
- Dark chocolate
- Fatty fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids
- Rolled oats
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy greens such as spinach
High blood pressure slowly causes damage to blood vessels and the circulatory system. While there are often no immediate symptoms, complications can become life-threatening and increase the risk of heart disease.
Patients need to realize how their diet affects blood pressure levels. Lowering blood pressure is possible by adopting a well-balanced diet that focuses on healthy foods that do not adversely affect their blood pressure levels.