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Top 15 Foods That Increase Blood Pressure

Burger and Fries

It’s known that many foods lower blood pressure, but what can raise it? Perhaps surprisingly, various foods can increase blood pressure levels in your body, leading to possible health complications. Below, we have listed some of the most common items to cut down on: 

#1 Salt/Sodium

Too much sodium in your body leads to water retention to try and balance things out. In turn, water retention adds extra stress to your blood vessels, causing high blood pressure. So, stop adding salt to your meals!


#2 White Bread

Believe it or not, white bread can raise blood pressure readings because of all the excess salt it contains. Just a few slices of bread can contain nearly a quarter of your recommended salt intake - and you can easily eat this with breakfast and lunch!


#3 Red Meat

Because of how red meat is digested, it generates compounds that raise blood pressure levels. Avoid eating too much beef, lamb, pork, or other red meats. 


#4 Microwave Meals

Microwave meals are notoriously high in sodium, which is used to preserve the food inside the packaging. Despite the ingredients of a microwave meal looking healthy, the high sodium content will increase your blood pressure over time. 

#5 Soda

Most sodas contain something called high fructose corn syrup, which is a popular sweetener. Unfortunately, high fructose corn syrup is strongly linked to raised blood pressure readings - in fact, one study claims it is worse than salt in this respect!


#6 Caffeine

Anything with caffeine in can cause a bit of a spike in your blood pressure - especially if you drink more than four cups of coffee per day. Energy drinks are also bad, if not worse as they contain more caffeine. The reasoning behind the increase in blood pressure is not yet decided, but some research suggests caffeine prevents your arteries from widening and increases adrenaline production. 


#7 Ketchup & Other Condiments

Ketchup and most other condiments are labeled as a potential blood pressure-increasing food substance. Why? Because they usually contain high levels of both sugar and salt. If possible, restrict condiment consumption or check the labels for lower salt/sugar variations. 


#8 Alcohol

According to the American Heart Association, excessive alcohol consumption (over two drinks per day for men and one per day for women) will have a negative impact on your blood pressure. Alcohol can cause weight gain that puts extra demands on your heart, raising blood pressure. 


#9 Processed Foods

Anything that is processed should be avoided if you want to lower your blood pressure. The problem with processed foods is that they contain high levels of trans fats in your body. This leads to a build-up of fat in your body that raises cholesterol and will increase your blood pressure.  


#10 Desserts

Again, desserts - like chocolate cakes, donuts, candies, puddings, etc. - are all high in bad fats. Eating too much of this will clog your blood vessels and raise blood pressure to very dangerous levels. 


#11 Fast Food

Fast food should always be avoided if you want to live a healthy life. As tasty as they are, these foods are packed full of the big three things you really don’t want in your system: sugar, sodium, and trans/saturated fats. Consequently, regularly consuming fast food will cause your blood pressure to rise at an astronomical rate. 


#12 Fried Food

Similarly, fried food that you may make at home is not going to be good for your heart or blood vessels. Food gets fried in oils that contain a lot of saturated fat. While the jury is still out on if saturated fat is bad for blood pressure, frying foods in hot oil is never good for you. This is simply because you are drenching the food in too much oil, which will clog up your blood vessels and boost blood pressure readings. Switch to alternative cooking methods that are healthier - such as baking or even air-frying. 


#13 Canned Foods

You might be inclined to pick up some canned soup to have for lunch or dinner on most days. It’s got vegetables in it, so surely this is good for you? Unfortunately, canned foods are good at raising blood pressure because they have high sodium levels. Much like microwave meals, canned meals need sodium to preserve the food and give it flavor. 


#14 Sandwiches

Again, avoid buying sandwiches that have already been made and packaged for you. The chances are they are too high in both salt and saturated fats. If you want a sandwich, make it at home with whole grain bread and healthier ingredients. 


#15 Grapefruit 

Have you ever wondered which fruit increases blood pressure? Generally, none do. In fact, citrus fruits like grapefruit are good at lowering it. However, we have included grapefruit here because of how it interacts with some blood pressure medication. If you eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while on medication to lower your blood pressure, it could negate the effects of the drug and make your blood pressure levels rise. So, be aware of this if you are on medication. 

In conclusion, it is a smart idea to avoid or cut down on these foods to lower your blood pressure. Having them now and then won’t be a big issue, but when you consistently eat them they will raise blood pressure levels and cause all sorts of problems. 

Uday Khosla, MD Uday Khosla, MD Uday M. Khosla, MD, is board certified in nephrology and hypertension and has served as a Houston kidney consultant since 2004. He currently practices as a renal specialist at Kidney360 - a nephrology practice located in Houston, TX serving the greater Katy, Sugar Land, Channelview, Pearland, Montrose, Downtown Houston, and Spring areas. Dr. Khosla is available as a kidney consultant in various settings, including in-hospital, outpatient clinics, outpatient dialysis, and home care.

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