Foods That Can Raise Your Blood Pressure

May 26, 2016

Foods That Can Raise Your Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure or hypertension, can be a multi-faceted condition, at times difficult to pinpoint, but still obvious in certain treatment options. One of the most manageable factors in reducing your blood pressure is diet.

You’ll mainly want to avoid foods with high levels of sodium, saturated fats, and processed sugars. For seniors with preexisting hypertension, cutting back on these foods can start to lower your blood pressure, and also give you more energy to enjoy life.

4 Tips for Healthier Eating

1. Limiting Your Sodium Intake

On average, most of the sodium consumed comes from pre-packaged foods. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people with hypertension and prehypertension should limit their daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg and below. Currently, the average American diet consists of over double this recommended dosage, so learning which foods to avoid can help you shop for your health.

Foods with excessive sodium include:

  • Deli meats
  • Frozen pizza
  • Canned soup, vegetables, or fruit
  • Processed tomato products
  • Pickled goods

2. Cutting Back on Saturated Fats

Eating foods with a lot of saturated fats raise your level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, eventually causing buildups and blockages in the arteries. When it becomes difficult for blood to pass through the vessels, blood pressure rises in order to compensate. Unfortunately, our body naturally craves foods high in LDL cholesterol, so it can be difficult to avoid them.

For people with hypertension it’s best to avoid foods like:

  • Fatty red meats
  • Poultry skin
  • Beef fat
  • Lard and cream
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Whole or 2% milk
  • Fried foods
  • Baked goods

3. Eat Less Processed Sugars

Recent studies have revealed that sugar may present greater risks than cholesterol for people with hypertension. Over the course of the 18-month study, adults who drank just one less serving of sugary soda per day showed significant declines in their blood pressure.

Sugars are often disguised as high fructose corn syrups and other concentrated forms. These corn-based sweeteners are found in thousands of processed foods and have been found to be key contributors to high blood pressure in people across the United States.

Foods with hidden or high levels of sugar include:

  • Candy (with the exception of dark chocolate)
  • Ketchup
  • Highly processed bread
  • Condiments and salad dressing
  • Canned baked beans
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Granola bars
  • Soda
  • Dried fruit

Try using natural sweeteners to enliven your foods. Using fruit juices to add a little bit of sugar to a food can be a great alternative, as well as spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves.

4. Abstain from Alcohol

Besides containing lots of hidden sugars, a reasonable glass of red wine can actually help increase your HDL, or high-density lipoprotein. But, too much alcohol can eventually begin harming your heart and blood flow. HDL is what’s considered the “good” cholesterol, helping to remove plaque buildup from the arteries, which in turn can lower blood pressure. However, alcohol is still best consumed in very moderate amounts, especially for seniors with high blood pressure.

Generally, one drink is equal to a 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, and only one ounce of harder liquor (100-proof). It’s recommended that seniors have no more than 3 drinks a day at very most, yet for people with heart conditions or hypertension, it is probably best to stay away from drinking entirely.

Drinking too much can lead to certain types of cancers, liver damage, and worsen some health conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Additionally, avoid alcohol completely if you are taking one or several forms of medication. Mixing booze and pills can cause dangerous chemical interactions, leading to injury or even death.

The Importance of Eating Healthy

Although high blood pressure may demand that you cut out some of your favorite dishes, know that there are plenty of other fantastic foods for heart health. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fatty fish are just a few of the better options to help manage your hypertension.

Perhaps you can take your high blood pressure as an excuse to become a better cook in the kitchen. Afterall, whipping up nutritious and mindful dishes can be rewarding in and of itself!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What blood pressure reading is considered normal for an elderly adult?

Typically, a blood pressure of 120/80 is considered normal. However, for elderly adults (60 or older) a reading of 140/90 is considered acceptable but could indicate pre-hypertension. Generally speaking, most seniors do have higher blood pressures, even if they don't experience hypertension. If you’re worried that your blood pressure may be too high, consult your doctor and always opt for a professional cardiovascular assessment. 

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I can't afford my high blood pressure medicine, so I've only been taking half. Is this okay?

No, generally speaking, it is not. It is important that you abide by the dosage your doctor prescribed. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a condition that can put excessive stress on your heart and several other vital organs. You may feel fine now, but taking less medication than is recommended is not worth the risk. For additional coverage, you may want to seek out more details regarding Medicare Part D for prescription medications. 

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