Hypertension: Worst Foods for High Blood Pressure

Restaurant food tends to have a lot of sodium, so be careful when you eat out if you are watching your sodium intake.

Restaurant Food

The shrimp fried rice at your favorite spot might be amazing, but it's likely full of sodium. Research suggests most of the sodium in U.S. diets comes from restaurant and packaged foods. Look for low-sodium menu options or ask the chef to make your meal without salt. Try other flavors instead, like lemon juice on fish and veggies. Most adults should eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. That's one teaspoon.

Frozen meals tend to be high in sodium, so read labels carefully.

Frozen Meals

They're fast and convenient. But they're also loaded with sodium, so it's best to avoid them. If you need something quick every once in a while, look for options with 600 milligrams of sodium or less.

Choose low-sodium or no-sodium nuts, seeds, chips, and pretzels instead of versions that are high in sodium.

Salty Snacks

Most chips, crackers, and popcorn are high in sodium. For instance, a 1-ounce serving of plain potato chips has about 50-200 milligrams. Try low- or no-sodium nuts, seeds, chips, or pretzels when cravings hit. Or try fresh carrots or celery sticks for a satisfying crunch.

Pickled vegetables are high in sodium, so try marinades made from vinegar, pineapple juice, and citrus fruits instead.

Pickled Foods and Their Juices

Kimchi, sauerkraut, and other pickled or brined foods often pack plenty of sodium. Three ounces of pickle juice has about 900 milligrams, depending on the brand. Try to limit the amount of pickled foods you eat. And try marinades made from vinegar, pineapple juice, or citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. They add a tart flavor with less sodium.

Bread may not taste salty, but it contains plenty of salt.

Bread

It doesn't taste salty, but it's got plenty of it. One slice of white bread has between 80 and 230 milligrams. The next time you make a sandwich, reach for whole-grain bread, an English muffin, or a tortilla to cut back on sodium. You can also eat your sandwich "open-faced" with just one slice.

Choose low-sodium varieties of soup or make your own so you can control the sodium content.

Soup

It's delicious on a cold day, but it's often high in sodium. One cup (8 ounces) of tomato soup can have anywhere from 700 to 1,260 milligrams. Buy low-sodium versions of your favorites instead. Or make your own and flavor with herbs and spices.

if you drink tomato juice, choose the low-sodium variety.

Tomato Juice and Sauces

Three-quarters of a cup of canned tomato juice packs 660 milligrams of sodium. Look for low-sodium versions.

Skip high-sodium processed meats in favor of fish, chicken, and lean cuts of meat.

Processed Meat

Lunch meat typically has about 750 milligrams or more of sodium per serving. That's about six thin slices. Other processed meats also high in sodium include hot dogs, corned beef, bacon, and sausage. Add salt pork, ham hocks, and spareribs to the list, too. Stick with fish, chicken, and lean cuts of meat.

Order a smaller pizza and skip the stuffed crust if you are watching your sodium intake.

Pizza

Whether it's frozen or from your favorite delivery spot, it's likely high in sodium. A 4-ounce slice of frozen cheese pizza has 370 to 730 milligrams. And a 4-ounce slice from a restaurant has even more, at 510-760 milligrams. To cut back, order a smaller pizza and ditch the stuffed crust. Opt for thin crust and veggies for even more health benefits.

The chance of high blood pressure increases if you drink too much alcohol.

Beer, Wine, and Alcohol

Your chances of high blood pressure go up when you drink too much alcohol. Men should stick with no more than two drinks a day. Women should keep it at one. One drink looks like 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1½ ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits. Red wine has been linked to heart health, but you should still limit the amount you drink.

Some cheeses are lower in sodium than others, so read labels.

Cheese

Some types are more likely to raise your blood pressure than others. Keep it down with cheeses that are naturally low in sodium, like Swiss, which has 75 milligrams per 1-ounce serving. Goat, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella are good, too. Processed and hard cheeses such as American and cottage cheese have more sodium. A half-cup of regular cottage cheese has 455 milligrams.

Condiments are often high in sodium, so read labels and choose low-sodium substitutes.

Condiments

Ketchup, soy sauce, and salad dressings are all high in sodium. Shop for low-sodium substitutes. Or try lemon juice and vinegar for added flavor.

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REFERENCES:

  • Cleveland Clinic: "Hypertension and Nutrition," "Sodium-Controlled Diet."
  • American Heart Association: "Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure."
  • Annual Review of Nutrition: "Policy Progress in Reducing Sodium in the American Diet, 2010-2019."
  • CDC: "Get the Facts: Sources of Sodium in Your Diet."
  • FDA: "Sodium in Your Diet."
  • Consumer Reports: "6 Ways to Order a Healthy Pizza."
  • Nutrition Research and Practice: "Workers intake too much salt from dishes of eating out and food service cafeterias; direct chemical analysis of sodium content."
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