High blood pressure is one of the most prevalent health conditions impacting Americans today. Nearly half of the adult population has been diagnosed with or is taking medication for high blood pressure.
If you’re one of the individuals, then you know how important it is to closely monitor all facets of your health, especially your diet. But exactly how does your diet influence your blood pressure?
Our team of experts at Optimal Performance Medicine led by Dr. Michael Skardasis is here to show you all the ways your diet choices affect your blood pressure and offer a few practical ways to keep it in check.
Diet and blood pressure: The bad
There four main types of foods that negatively impact your blood pressure: salt, sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. We like to call them the four Ss of bad food choices.
Salt and sodium
We often think of salt and sodium as the same thing, but they have important differences. Salt, like the type you find on the table, contains the substance sodium. In fact, table salt is 40% sodium, and it’s the sodium inside your table salt that increases your blood pressure.
When you eat too much salt, your body retains extra water in an effort to flush out the excess. This causes a spike in blood pressure levels. Foods that are high in salt and sodium are everywhere, and most of the salt you eat comes more from packaged, processed foods and less from adding a dash of salt to your meal.
You can also find high levels of salt and sodium in foods like:
- Bread and rolls
- Deli meat, including hot dogs
- Frozen pizza
- Canned tomato products
Avoiding these foods or limiting your consumption can have a significant positive effect on your blood pressure.
Sugar, though it might not directly impact your blood pressure, does contribute to weight gain, and obese and overweight people are at the highest risk for developing high blood pressure. Do your best to curb your consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and treats.
Saturated fats increase the amount of bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol, resulting in an increased risk for high blood pressure. You can find saturated fats in animal products, including full-fat milk and cream, butter, red meat, and chicken skin. Saturated fats also hide in your favorite processed snacks.
Other things to avoid
You might love to relax at the end of the day with a glass or two of wine or a few beers, but alcohol is another common culprit of high blood pressure.
Diet and blood pressure: The good
If you’ve just found out that a large majority of your diet is negatively influencing your blood pressure, we understand if you’re feeling discouraged. The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to make your diet more blood pressure friendly.
For example, you can swap out your canned soups for a low sodium option, use salt-free seasonings, or buy fresh instead of canned produce.
Eat foods that are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and protein, and low in sodium, fat, and sugar. These nutrients can help control your blood pressure, and filling up on healthier foods will help you cut back on the foods that negatively impact your blood pressure.
Some of the best foods to eat if you’re looking to control your blood pressure:
- Fresh fruits, such as apples and bananas
- Fresh vegetables, such as kale and broccoli
- Naturally sweet snacks, such as dates and raisins
- Fat-free yogurt
- Whole grains
Talk to Dr. Skardasis about other diet choices you can make that will help regulate your blood pressure.
Addressing your high blood pressure
We strive to help you take charge of your health without relying on medication, and we do so by equipping you with the tools and education you need. Typically your blood pressure treatment plan includes dietary changes, nutrition counseling, medically supervised weight-loss programs, and health coaching.
Don’t hesitate to make an appointment to start your journey toward a healthier life. Request an appointment online or over the phone at our Woodstock, Georgia, office today.