Did you know there is a silent killer among us? It may not have a physical form but it has the capacity to overwhelm our health adversely. Called Hypertension or in simpler terms, high blood pressure. There are many factors that justify the term.
The ailment is not a virus or bacteria that assaults the human body with clear signs and symptoms. It tiptoes in your life without any pre-warning and causes havoc to your overall health. Despite its silent beginning, the situation is not that depraved. Two factors identify its advent. A sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits.
Controlling these two can effectively keep a check on your blood pressure. It is imperative to know foods to avoid with high blood pressure in order to have better control of the situation. The subject article is an attempt to define high blood pressure. Describing the causative factors and dietary control will follow.
What is Blood Pressure?
Our heart acts as a pump organ. It works to propel blood from its chambers to all parts of our body. To ensure blood reaches each body site, the heart generates pressure. The blood vessels receive the blood with this pressure. The same pressure gets exerted on the vessel walls too. This pressure remains the same throughout the circulatory system ensuring proper tissue perfusion. So the definition of blood pressure
The force with which the blood pushes against the blood vessel wall
Numerals Defining Normal and High Blood Pressure
The unit of measuring blood pressure is millimeters of mercury (mmHg). There are two readings, a numerator, and a denominator, that represent blood pressure. This reading is written as 120/80 mmHg. Now, what do the figures mean?
The numerator 120 represents the systolic pressure. It is the peak pressure attained at the time when the heart contracts to push the blood into the circulatory system.
The denominator 80 represents the diastolic pressure. It describes the pressure in the blood vessel when the heart relaxes before the next beat so obviously, it is lower than the systolic figure.
High blood pressure includes figures above 120/80 mmHg. However, a single reading measures randomly does not define high blood pressure. For reading to be labeled as exceeding the normal limit, it is important to measure the blood pressure
- When the individual is in a relaxed state
- The person has not undergone exercise or strenuous activity like a brisk walk or climbing a stair
- When there is no recent history of any caffeinated drink
Any kind of physical or emotional activity and intake of caffeinated drinks naturally increase our blood pressure. Furthermore, in order to label a person as hypertensive, the blood pressure reading should be measured over a period of a week, once in the morning and once in the evening. Consistently high figures recorded, after following the entire protocol, define a state of hypertension or high blood pressure.
Factors Leading to High Blood Pressure
Unfortunately, you cannot pinpoint a single causative factor for high blood pressure. It is a condition which arises from a plethora of elements. However, some of the principle culprits include
- Inactive sedentary lifestyle
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Consumption of unhealthy food items
- Obesity and overweight
- Chronic stress
- Family history
- Specific Ethnic background
One can see that unhealthy lifestyle tops the list. On the other hand, many cases are observed in clinical practice when the individual diagnosed with high blood pressure was physically fit. but family history or certain ethnic origin (more prevalent in African-Caribbean and South Asians) predisposed them to the situation.
Sometimes cases of Malignant blood pressure surface when the blood pressure exceeds the normal range rapidly, causing organ damage. Though very rare, a case of malignant is usually treated as a medical emergency.
High blood pressure requires appropriate management via
- suitable physical activity
- as well as taking care of the list of food to avoid with high blood pressure
The latter includes a list of foods that lower the blood pressure in routine. It also includes the foods that lower blood pressure quickly in crisis situations.
Why is it Important to Maintain Optimal Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure puts undue strain on our circulatory system. Our vessels become weak and damaged, thereby unable to deliver their function. The working of different organs starts declining. It results in signs and symptoms involving all parts of our body.
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. It also adversely affects kidney function. Lately, high blood pressure is linked to dementia and a decline in cerebral functions. It also causes retinal damage and peripheral vascular disease.
According to WHO, hypertension causes 7.5 million deaths worldwide. It amounts to 12.8% of the total death counts globally.
American Heart Association reports
“Every one out of three individual suffers from high blood pressure in the US”.
The projected statistics may rise to an alarming 7.2% from their 2013 benchmarks. The risk of cardiovascular disease increases two folds with every 20/10 mmHg rise in blood pressure.
The major concern is not high blood pressure alone. Varying disabilities tagged with the condition decrease the quality of life.
The good news is, managing blood pressure is possible. It is possible to keep a check on the blood pressure figures even without medication. It only requires some lifestyle changes that lead to a vigorous and healthy life.
Physical activity and exercise play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. The part played by healthy dietary habits and smart food choices are undeniable. Read on to know the dos and don’ts of dietary protocols.
6 Foods to Avoid with High Blood Pressure
Let us begin with the don’ts. You will observe they are few in number yet easy to follow. Observe them religiously to improve your heart health and maintain blood pressure.
- Packaged, processed, and canned food
- Foods high in saturated and trans-fats
- Caffeinated drinks
Salt works to retain more water in your body. Consuming high amounts of salts puts excessive strain on the functioning of kidneys. It thereby hampering the removal of excess of water. A vicious cycle initiates. It results in putting the vascular system and heart under stress.
American Heart Association recommends observing a limit of 1500 mg to 2300 mg of sodium intake per day. It amounts to about half a teaspoon of salt in the 24-hour period.
Start by using less or no salt in your recipes. Different herbs, garlic, ginger, lemon make good alternatives. Benefits of turmeric are patent in this regard. Say a big NO to using
- stock cubes,
- gravy browning,
- soya sauce,
- chicken powder and curry powders
Remove the salt shaker from your dining area. Go for low sodium salt alternatives that contain potassium. They might help you counteract your high blood pressure. However, these low sodium salt alternatives should be avoided
- if you suffer from renal function impairment or
- are already taking medication for blood pressure
Consult your physician before use.
Sugar may not have a direct influence on your blood pressure profile. Yet it remains the main culprit behind overweight and obesity. High blood pressure remains a prevalent complaint in overweight and obese individuals. So cutting back on your sugar intake helps keep a check on your scale figures. It, in turn, caters to healthy blood pressure levels.
The category of sugar also includes refined carbohydrates. They include baked goods as cakes, muffins, cookies, bagels, donuts, corn syrups and so on. Keep a look out for added sugar in breakfast cereals and over-the-counter snacks. Other sources of refined carbs include white flour, pasta, and white rice. Their excess is stored as fat in the body, that adds to your weight at an alarming rate.
According to Healthline, “a 2012 analysis of low-carb diets and heart disease risk found that these diets lowered blood pressure by an average of 3.10 mm Hg diastolic and 4.81 mm Hg systolic”
You may have come across health news items relating red wine with reduced risk of heart disease. Pay no heed. Firstly, because the researches are still in infancy. Secondly, the bulletins talk about only small or moderate amounts of alcohol.
Consuming alcohol raises your blood pressure. That is for sure. Regular consumption leads to blood pressure complaints in the long run. Alcohol also contributes to unwanted weight gain and obesity. It also disrupts the effects of certain blood pressure medication. According to a publication, each 10 gm of alcohol raises your blood pressure by 1mmHg.
So if you want to maintain a healthy profile, alcohol is one of the foods to avoid with high blood pressure.
4. Packaged, Processed and Canned Food Products
If you really want to enjoy optimal blood pressure, stay away from these food products. These ready-made food products are loaded with sugar and salt. It adds flavor and increases its shelf life. The convenient meat snacks have become a necessary staple of our fast-paced lifestyles. At the same time, they contribute to weight gain.
Because of their high sodium content, they directly impact our blood pressure. Consider such comfort Food to Avoid with High Blood Pressure an obligation to maintain health.
FDA defines a 5% sodium label on packaged food as low. 20% or more of sodium label should raise alarms so always check labels while purchasing packaged food items.
Some of the examples include
- A single serving of frozen pizza may have 700 mg of sodium, depending upon the crust thickness and the type of toppings
- Deli meat may contain as much as 500 mg of sodium
- A single serving of canned soup may deliver a hefty 900 mg of sodium
Some other high sodium products
- Canned tomatoes and sauces
- Canned Broth
- Pot pies
5. Foods High in Saturated and Trans-Fats
Individuals suffering from high blood pressure must refrain from saturated fat. This is predominantly found in
- Full-fat dairy milk products
- Red meat
- Chicken with skin-on
Restrict the intake of trans-fats by limiting the consumption of packaged and processed food. Both the saturated and trans-fat increase the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) in our body. A high LDL level is directly linked to impaired heart function that ultimately results in blood pressure exceeding the normal range. Adopt a bland diet if your blood pressure consistently remains high.
6. Caffeinated Drinks
Caffeinated drinks directly raise your blood pressure. Though temporary, the effects may be more pronounced in individuals already suffering from high blood pressure.
Till the time some research authenticates the plus and minuses of caffeine consumption, needless consumption of caffeinated drinks should be avoided.
Foods that Lower Blood Pressure
For those who have trouble keeping a check on their high blood pressure, here is a list of foods that lower blood pressure naturally.
- Leafy green vegetables and bananas (their high potassium content helps remove excess sodium out of the body)
- Beetroot (high in nitric oxide that eases the blood flow and lowers blood pressure)
- Berries (high in flavonoids)
- Yogurt and skim milk (high calcium and low fat, two essentials to lower blood pressure)
- Oatmeal (high fiber, low-fat and low sodium)
- Salmon, Mackerel (rich in Omega-3) and trout (rich in vitamin D)
- Unsalted seeds
- Herbs and spices as garlic (raises nitric oxide), ginger, basil, thyme, cinnamon, rosemary, flax seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Nuts as pistachios
- Fresh pomegranate juice
Foods that Lower Blood Pressure Quickly
Trouble may call upon any time. Despite regular medication for hypertension, minor stress may raise your blood pressure. You should be prepared for an instant lowering of blood pressure in case you or your loved one experience such a case scenario. A home-based remedy utilizes some of the foods that lower blood pressure naturally and quickly.
Crus three cloves of garlic and set aside. Bring a cup and ½ water to boil. Add the minced garlic to boiled water. Squeeze juice from one lemon. Add a small amount of honey. Mix and let the mixture infuse for a few minutes before consuming.
Ginger tea made from fresh ginger root also works effectively to lower blood pressure instantly.
Take Home Message
Food to Avoid with High Blood Pressure requires a strict following in patients of hypertension. Most of them have a repute to affect your health negatively. So whether you are taking medication for hypertension or want to avoid risks for chronic disease, it is imperative to take a cautious approach to dietary regimes.