12 Food Types People With High Blood Pressure Should Avoid

by Ella

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other serious health conditions. While medication and lifestyle changes play crucial roles in managing hypertension, dietary choices are equally important. Certain foods can significantly impact blood pressure levels and contribute to the progression of the condition. In this article, we will explore the foods that individuals with high blood pressure should avoid, along with the scientific evidence supporting these recommendations.

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a dietary plan specifically designed to help prevent and manage high blood pressure (hypertension). It was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).


The main goal of the DASH diet is to lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health by promoting the consumption of nutrient-rich foods and reducing sodium intake.


Foods to Avoid if You Have High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), it’s important to be mindful of your diet to help manage your condition. Here are some foods you should generally avoid or limit:


1. Restaurant Food

The shrimp fried rice at your favorite spot might be amazing, but it’s likely full of sodium. Research suggests most of the sodium in U.S. diets comes from restaurant and packaged foods. Look for low-sodium menu options or ask the chef to make your meal without salt. Try other flavors instead, like lemon juice on fish and veggies. Most adults should eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. That’s one teaspoon.


2. Frozen Meals

They’re fast and convenient. But they’re also loaded with sodium, so it’s best to avoid them. If you need something quick every once in a while, look for options with 600 milligrams of sodium or less.

3. Salty Snacks

Most chips, crackers, and popcorn are high in sodium. For instance, a 1-ounce serving of plain potato chips has about 50-200 milligrams. Try low- or no-sodium nuts, seeds, chips, or pretzels when cravings hit. Or try fresh carrots or celery sticks for a satisfying crunch.

4. Pickled Foods and Their Juices

Kimchi, sauerkraut, and other pickled or brined foods often pack plenty of sodium. Three ounces of pickle juice has about 900 milligrams, depending on the brand. Try to limit the amount of pickled foods you eat. And try marinades made from vinegar, pineapple juice, or citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. They add a tart flavor with less sodium.

5. Bread

It doesn’t taste salty, but it’s got plenty of it. One slice of white bread has between 80 and 230 milligrams. The next time you make a sandwich, reach for whole-grain bread, an English muffin, or a tortilla to cut back on sodium. You can also eat your sandwich “open-faced” with just one slice.

6. Soup

It’s delicious on a cold day, but it’s often high in sodium. One cup (8 ounces) of tomato soup can have anywhere from 700 to 1,260 milligrams. Buy low-sodium versions of your favorites instead. Or make your own and flavor with herbs and spices.

7. Tomato Juice and Sauces

Three-quarters of a cup of canned tomato juice packs 660 milligrams of sodium. Look for low-sodium versions.

8. Processed Meat

Lunch meat typically has about 750 milligrams or more of sodium per serving. That’s about six thin slices. Other processed meats also high in sodium include hot dogs, corned beef, bacon, and sausage. Add salt pork, ham hocks, and spareribs to the list, too. Stick with fish, chicken, and lean cuts of meat.

9. Pizza

Whether it’s frozen or from your favorite delivery spot, it’s likely high in sodium. A 4-ounce slice of frozen cheese pizza has 370 to 730 milligrams. And a 4-ounce slice from a restaurant has even more, at 510-760 milligrams. To cut back, order a smaller pizza and ditch the stuffed crust. Opt for thin crust and veggies for even more health benefits.

10. Beer, Wine, and Alcohol

Your chances of high blood pressure go up when you drink too much alcohol. Men should stick with no more than two drinks a day. Women should keep it at one. One drink looks like 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1½ ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits. Red wine has been linked to heart health, but you should still limit the amount you drink.

11. Cheese

Some types are more likely to raise your blood pressure than others. Keep it down with cheeses that are naturally low in sodium, like Swiss, which has 75 milligrams per 1-ounce serving. Goat, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella are good, too. Processed and hard cheeses such as American and cottage cheese have more sodium. A half-cup of regular cottage cheese has 455 milligrams.

12. Condiments

Ketchup, soy sauce, and salad dressings are all high in sodium. Shop for low-sodium substitutes. Or try lemon juice and vinegar for added flavor.

Foods That Are Good For People With High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, incorporating certain foods into your diet can help manage the condition and promote overall heart health. Here are some foods that are beneficial for people with hypertension:

1. Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens are rich in potassium, which can help balance sodium levels in the body and lower blood pressure.

2. Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are excellent sources of antioxidants and flavonoids, which have been linked to improved heart health.

3. Oats: Oats are high in fiber and can help lower both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and hypertension.

4. Bananas: These fruits are another good source of potassium, which plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure.

5. Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

6. Garlic: Garlic has been associated with lower blood pressure levels and may have beneficial effects on heart health.

7. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are good sources of healthy fats, fiber, and minerals that can support heart health.

8. Avocado: Avocados are packed with potassium and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which may help lower blood pressure.

9. Beans and Lentils: These legumes are rich in fiber, protein, and minerals like potassium and magnesium, all of which are beneficial for managing blood pressure.

10. Yogurt (Low-Fat or Greek): Low-fat yogurt and Greek yogurt are good sources of calcium and protein, which may support heart health.

11. Beets: Beets contain nitrates, which can help relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

12. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce blood pressure.

13. Dark Chocolate (in moderation): Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or more) contains flavonoids that could have a positive impact on blood pressure.

Read more:

13 Foods That Are Good for High Blood Pressure

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Sample Daily Meal Plan For People With High Blood Pressure

For example, a person can eat the following foods throughout the day:

Breakfast: whole grain toast with fruit and a glass of milk, or oatmeal with fruit.

Lunch: grilled chicken with a side salad, or a bowl of quinoa and a serving of fruit.

Snack: fruit, vegetables, cheese, whole grain pasta or bread, or a fruit and a vegetable smoothie.

Dinner: whole grain pasta, eggs, and a vegetable or fruit, or nuts with lean meat, such as chicken, and a few fruit sides.

Prevention of High blood pressure (hypertension)

High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking.

1. Healthy diet

Cut down on the amount of salt in your food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

The Eatwell Guide highlights the different types of food that make up our diet, and shows the proportions we should eat them in to have a well-balanced and healthy diet.

Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. Aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful.

2. Limit your alcohol intake

Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.

Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure:

men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week

spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week

3. Lose weight

Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure.

If you do need to lose some weight, it’s worth remembering that just losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health.

4. Get active

Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.

Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.

Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

5. Cut down on caffeine

Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure.

If you’re a big fan of coffee, tea or other caffeine-rich drinks, such as cola and some energy drinks, consider cutting down.

It’s fine to drink tea and coffee as part of a balanced diet, but it’s important that these drinks are not your main or only source of fluid.

6. Stop smoking

Smoking, like high blood pressure, will cause your arteries to narrow. This can increase your blood pressure. If your arteries get blocked it can cause a heart attack or stroke.

If you smoke and have high blood pressure, your arteries will narrow much more quickly, and your risk of heart or lung disease in the future is dramatically increased.


Maintaining a heart-healthy diet is essential for individuals with high blood pressure. Avoiding foods high in sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and excess caffeine can help manage blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of complications associated with hypertension. Instead, focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to nurture your heart and overall well-being. By making informed dietary choices and staying consistent with a heart-healthy lifestyle, individuals with high blood pressure can take positive steps towards better health and well-being. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary guidance and to create a diet plan tailored to your specific needs.



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