Blood pressure refers to the force with which blood is pushed through arteries and veins as the heart pumps it around the body. Unfortunately, there are circumstances and health conditions that can cause blood pressure to increase or decrease to unhealthy ranges.
High Blood Pressure is common in the United States as a result of poor diet and refers to blood that is being forced against the artery walls too strongly. When this happens, you increase your risk of artery damage as well as numerous, more serious health complications.
The Silent Killer – High Blood Pressure
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure affects more than 3 million Americans each year. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and too much salt intake are all possible causes of high blood pressure.
A reading of 130/80 is identified as hypertension. You can easily treat high blood pressure, but it causes serious heart conditions, like heart disease, heart attack, and stroke if left untreated.
Typically, any age can be affected by high blood pressure, but it is more common among older adult.
Sadly, there are not any symptoms of high blood pressure most of the time, which is why it is dubbed the “silent killer.” There is also no cure for the condition, but with proper treatment and management you can live a long and healthy life as well as keep your blood pressure at lower numbers.
High blood pressure develops over time, and many people are not aware they even have it. It is recommended to get yours checked routinely as part of a regular health regimen.
Additionally, if you know the risk factors, you stand a better chance of preventing it or keeping it under control.
There are certain physical and lifestyle factors that increase your risk for high blood pressure. If any of these apply to you, then work with your doctor to keep a close eye on your blood pressure.
Risk factors can include:
- Family history
- Age and gender (hypertension is more common in older adults and men under the age of 64, but women over the age of 65)
- Race (African Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often than other racial backgrounds)
- Lack of physical activity
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking too much alcohol
- High cholesterol levels
- Smoking or using tobacco
- High and continued stress levels
- Sleep apnea
- Unhealthy diet
With regards to the last item, you can make certain changes to your diet to help keep your blood pressure within normal ranges.
In particular, there are foods you want to avoid like salt and sugar.
5 Salty Foods to Avoid
In general, the daily recommended intake of sodium (salt) is 2300 milligrams. You want to check nutrition labels on the foods you buy and make sure the Percentage of Daily Value(in short %DV) amount for sodium is between 5% and 15%.
Anything with a DV% over 20% is considered way too high and should be avoided by those with high blood pressure. Keep the salt shaker in the cupboard an avoid these top salty foods below to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range:
- Premade soups: In spite of being loaded with vegetables, soups are also loaded with sodium. Since you cannot really water soup down (as it will ruin the taste) try buying soups that are “low sodium” or “reduced salt” and always double check the nutrition labels.
- Canned Beans: Sodium is used in canned beans for preservation reasons. Luckily, you can rinse the beans before using them, helping to remove a lot of the salt.
- Canned or Bottled Tomato Products: Tomato sauces, paste, and ketchup are always filled with salt. Instead try to produce your own version with fresh, cleanse, canned tomatoes to help reduce salt consumption.
- Processed Meats: All pre-packaged and processed meats contain sodium, including breakfast sausages and fast-food. Even deli meats, like turkey and ham, use a lot of salt when packaged, despite also offering a lot of protein.
It is healthier to avoid the packaged meats and get your cuts directly from the slaughterman instead.
- Frozen Meals: Dinners and snacks found in the frozen aisle of the store, like pizza, chicken tenders, and TV dinners, may be delicious, but they are loaded with salt. In addition to high sodium content, these items also contain other unhealthy and unwanted ingredients.You should really avoid the so-called “healthy” ones too because they still contain high sodium amounts. In fact, the low-fat varieties are generally loaded with sugar.
5 Sugary Foods to Avoid
Sugar is something that is found in almost all of the variety of foods, either it can be added artificially or naturally. You want to reduce the amount of sugar your intake because it is essentially nothing but calories, which cause weight gain.
Too much weight or obesity increases your risk for high blood pressure, so start cutting out sugary snacks and foods right away. The recommended daily added sugar intake for men should be close to 38 grams and for women, it is 25 grams.
The most common sugary foods you can cut out include:
- Candy: Candy and sweets are basically empty calories and spiked sugar levels. Leave the sugary snacks at the store and pick up fresh fruit instead. That way you get lower sugar and some potassium and fiber, which is essential in preventing high blood pressure.
- Pastries: Doughnuts, cookies, and cakes are good to eat but loaded with sugar and fat. The occasional treat for a birthday is fine, but you should reduce your consumption of these sweet treats so they do not contribute to any unwanted weight gain. With serving sizes kept in check, you can still enjoy these items every now and then.
- Soft Drinks: Soda contains more sugar than most candy bars. One can alone have 9 teaspoons(39g) of sugar or more than that, which is pretty much your recommended daily amount. Pick up water instead to help regulate blood sugar levels and keep your weight in a healthy range.
- Alcohol: Another dangerous drink is alcohol because of the hidden sugar content in cocktails and many liquors. Too much will elevate sugar levels, cause weight gain, and dehydration, all of which contribute to high blood pressure.
- Sauces: Sauces and condiments are a double threat because of their sugar and sodium content, with ketchup being the worst. Season foods with herbs and spices instead, and if you do use sauces or dips, keep to small portions.
iHealth Concern Bottom Line
Selecting a diet that will result in maintaining or gaining a healthy blood pressure is not far removed from eating a healthy diet in general. You are what you eat, after all, so don’t let yourself get too salty or sugary.