|Worst Foods For High Blood Pressure
When it comes to heart disease, the way to a person's heart is most definitely through the stomach. The foods you eat and feed to your loved ones have the power to either ease or exacerbate high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease. If you have or are at risk for hypertension, here are six foods to nix from your diet plus three to add to your shopping list.
Drink Less: Soda
Sugary beverages like soft drinks, iced tea and fruit punch are linked to increased rates of hypertension, according to a recent study. Think you're off the hook because you drink diet? Not so fast. A different study found that low-cal pops are associated with an increased risk as well, though not quite as much as the sugary ones.
Heart-healthy Choice: If bubbles are what you crave, try jazzing seltzer up with a squeeze of lemon or a dash of fruit juice for your own heart-healthy spritzer.
Eat Less: Processed Meats
If you're sprinkling less salt on your food, great. But most of the blood pressure-boosting sodium in our diets actually comes from packaged and processed foods, not the saltshaker. Which salty culprits should you steer clear of? Bacon, sausage, bologna, hot dogs and other processed meat products.
Heart-healthy Choice: Opt for low-salt or salt-free meat options, such as sliced turkey breast, chicken and even lean beef.
Eat Less: Canned Biscuits
While many food companies have gone trans-fat free, one category where it's hard to avoid the heart-unhealthy fats are refrigerated biscuit and crescent rolls. Trans fats are associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure in middle-aged and older women, according to a recent study. Even if the nutrition facts label says there's no trans fat, beware of any food that includes partially hydrogenated oil in its ingredient list; that means it still contains some trans fat even if it's not reported.
Heart-healthy Choice: Serve your meal with whole-grain bread or a dinner roll instead (but be sure to check labels for sodium content; bread is one of the highest contributors of salt to our diets).
Drink Less: Coffee
Java, like alcohol, is a controversial topic when it comes to hypertension. And though the jury may still be out on this caffeinated beverage, studies have shown a correlation between coffee drinking and an increase in blood pressure – so lightening up on the lattes might be worth a shot.
Heart-healthy Choice: Try a lower-octane beverage like green or herbal tea.
Eat More: Fruits and Veggies
Eating fruits and veggies not only helps fight fat to trim your waistline – they work wonders in the fight to lower your blood pressure, too. Packed with potassium, produce hinders the blood-pressure raising effects of sodium. What fruits and veggies should you eat? Stock up on sweet potatoes (mashed or baked), spinach, beans, bananas, oranges (and orange juice) and tomatoes.
Eat Less: Pizza
Both meat-topped and plain old cheese pizzas are major contributors of sodium to our diets, according to a report. Between the salt in the sauce, crust, cheese and add-ons like pepperoni and sausage, and the frequency with which people eat it, pizza is likely sending our collective blood pressures skyrocketing.
Heart-healthy Choice: Ease up on the meat and cheese and ask for extra veggies instead.
Eat More: Herbs and Spices
To boost the flavor of your favorite meals, you might add a few extra granules of table salt to your food. But, according to the National Institutes of Health, most of us use more salt and sodium than we actually need. So next time you feel yourself reaching for the saltshaker, add some herbs and spices to your dish to bring new and interesting flavors to your palate. Try adding basil to your salad, thyme to your chicken breast, sage to your soups or oregano to your meats.
Eat More: Low-fat Dairy
In a study conducted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, researchers found that after studying the diets of 5,000 people, those who ate 2 or more servings of low-fat dairy products had lower blood pressure than those who did not. So when you're looking for a snack, experiment with a healthier option like low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt or even a glass of skimmed milk. Still need to satisfy that sweet tooth? Add some apricots, peaches, cantaloupe or honeydew melon to your low-fat dairy snack and increase your intake of fruit for the day.