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Eating with high blood pressure: Foods and drinks to avoid
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Team Gabit
2 months ago | 5 mins

Eating with high blood pressure: Foods and drinks to avoid


Understand the intricate relationship between high blood pressure and diet, while learning how to manage the same through alternatives and smart planning.

As a child, we often went to the doctor with complaints of cough, cold, or fever. It was usually a short trip, aided by a stethoscope, and a basic prescription of a syrup which took our parents an hour to convince us to consume.

However, what you must’ve noticed at your doctor’s clinic was this cool-looking machine, complete with a scale, and some sort of pump. Upon enquiry, the doctor would always say, “this is for measuring your BP, you don’t need to worry about this until later in life.”

Well, that ‘later in life’ is nowhere. High blood pressure is a serious concern that affects more than 1 crore Indians every year. Read further to know how it is connected to your diet, what foods and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure, substitutes for the same, and more.

Understanding blood pressure and diet

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, refers to a condition where the force of the blood pressing against the walls of the blood vessels is higher than ideal. As per a study, close to 30% of all Indians suffer from high blood pressure. Lately, the figures have been even more alarming, as a majority of this patient group is made up of young adults. What does this have to do with diet?

Well, evidence suggests that a high sodium intake is one of the major factors contributing to high blood pressure. Sodium, by virtue of its properties, causes water retention in the body. This fluid buildup increases blood volume, thereby raising blood pressure.

High blood pressure is also caused by foods that are sugary in nature or those that contain a large amount of saturated fats. These are some of the food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure, but there are more to the list.

know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

What diet should I follow for high blood pressure?

There is a specific diet attributed to helping work against high blood pressure, known as the DASH diet. DASH is an acronym that stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a rather flexible model that can be followed by people who have dietary restrictions owing to high blood pressure. 

The best thing about the diet is that it does not require special foods or hard to find ingredients. Rather, it focuses on meeting daily nutritional goals by laying out a certain plan to include vegetables, fruits, and more.

For breakfast, consider oatmeal with fresh berries and chia seeds, complemented by low-fat yoghurt and a handful of pistachio. Mid-morning snacks can consist of apple slices paired with natural peanut butter. Lunch may include a grilled chicken salad with quinoa or brown rice on the side and a piece of fresh fruit. 

For an afternoon snack, opt for Greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts. Dinner can feature baked or grilled salmon with a lemon and herb marinade, accompanied by steamed vegetables and mashed sweet potatoes.

know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

Foods to avoid in high blood pressure

If you’re wondering what foods and drinks cause high blood pressure, here’s a list you should look out for:

  1. Processed foods: High in sodium and unhealthy additives, processed foods can contribute to elevated blood pressure. Opt for fresh, whole foods to reduce sodium intake and support overall heart health.
  2. Saturated fats: Foods high in saturated fats, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products, can raise cholesterol levels, impacting blood pressure. Choose lean protein sources and low-fat dairy alternatives for a heart-friendly diet.
  3. Sugary treats: Excessive sugar intake may lead to weight gain and insulin resistance, potentially impacting blood pressure. Limit sugary snacks and opt for natural sweeteners or whole fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  4. High-sodium foods: Canned soups, processed meats, and salty snacks contribute to increased sodium intake, a key factor in hypertension. Read labels and choose low-sodium alternatives to manage blood pressure effectively.
  5. Trans fats: Found in many processed and commercially baked goods, trans fats can raise bad cholesterol levels. Avoid or minimise consumption to promote cardiovascular health.
know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

Drinks to avoid in high blood pressure

While we are wary of our eating habits, the drinking part often goes unnoticed. Here’s a list of drinks to avoid for high blood pressure:

Caffeinated beverages

  •  Coffee
    • Coffee is a drink best avoided during hypertension, due to its high caffeine content, as caffeine increases heart rate, leading to an increased blood flow.
  • Energy drinks
    • One of the worst high blood pressure drinks to avoid, energy drinks contain a large amount of sugar along with the energising caffeine in it. This makes them a nightmare for anyone suffering from any medical condition, let alone hypertension. Energy drinks are best avoided on a regular basis.
  • Cola
    • Cola drinks, similar to energy drinks, contain a considerable amount of sugar and caffeine, although not as much. However, these nutritional properties lie underutilised and do not contribute to any positive function.
know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

Alcoholic beverages

Alcohol is best avoided when suffering from hypertension. It leads to a sudden spike in blood pressure right after consumption. Not only this, it can also disrupt sleeping patterns, which affect quality of sleep, another important aspect of maintaining blood pressure.

Another thing to consider is that hypertension is often treated with daily medication. Alcohol should never be consumed while on medication, as it not only diminishes the effect of the medicine, but also causes heart palpitations.

know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

Sugary beverages

Sugary beverages are best avoided during high blood pressure. This includes soda-based beverages as well as packaged fruit juices. Such juices contain very little traces of fruit, while being high in sugar and preservatives.

know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

Healthy alternatives and substitutes

  • Whole grains: Replace refined grains with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat to enhance fibre intake and support heart health.
  • Lean proteins: Opt for lean protein sources such as fish, beans, and legumes instead of fatty meats. These alternatives provide essential nutrients without the saturated fats.
  • Healthy fats: Choose sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil instead of saturated and trans fats found in some processed foods. These fats support cardiovascular health.
  • Low-sodium options: Select low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of canned soups, sauces, and snacks. Cooking at home allows for better control over salt content.
  • Natural sweeteners: Replace sugary treats with naturally sweet alternatives like fresh fruits, dried fruits, or snacks with minimal added sugars. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup in moderation.
  • Herbs and spices: Use herbs and spices to flavour meals instead of relying on excessive salt. This not only enhances taste but also contributes to a lower sodium intake.
  • Hydration choices: Choose water, herbal teas, or infused water over sugary beverages and excessive caffeinated drinks. Staying hydrated is vital for overall health and can positively impact blood pressure.
  • Healthy snacks: Swap processed snacks with options like raw vegetables, fruit slices, or a handful of nuts for a satisfying and heart-friendly snack.
know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

Conclusion

Understanding the link between diet and high blood pressure is crucial for managing this serious health condition. While it's essential to avoid or limit certain foods and drinks that contribute to hypertension, adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't mean sacrificing taste and variety. The DASH diet, emphasising whole foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats, offers a flexible and achievable approach. 

Making informed choices, such as opting for low-sodium options, incorporating natural sweeteners, and choosing hydration alternatives, can positively impact blood pressure.

know and learn about food and drinks to avoid with high blood pressure

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods should I avoid if I have high blood pressure?

Avoid high-sodium processed foods, saturated fats, sugary treats, and trans fats to manage high blood pressure effectively.

How does alcohol affect high blood pressure?

Alcohol consumption can lead to a sudden spike in blood pressure, disrupt sleep patterns, and should be avoided, especially when on hypertension medication.

How does stress relate to high blood pressure, and can diet help manage stress?

Stress is linked to high blood pressure, and adopting a healthy diet, such as the DASH diet, can contribute to stress management and overall well-being.

Why is it important to monitor my diet if I have high blood pressure?

Monitoring your diet is crucial for managing high blood pressure as certain foods and drinks, such as those high in sodium and saturated fats, can contribute to elevated blood pressure levels.

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