Top 5 Foods To Avoid If You Have High Blood Pressure

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

High blood pressure, often called the “silent killer,” affects 30% of people around the world. It is the top risk factor for heart disease, the number one cause of death in developed countries.

Top 5 Foods to AVOID if You Have High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is “silent”, because it can cause damage to your body for years without any noticeable symptoms, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and dementia.

Unfortunately, more than half of people with high blood pressure, struggle to control it effectively, often because they do not know which foods to avoid.


In today’s video, we’ll go over five types of common foods you should avoid, IF you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. This means, your blood pressure reading is consistently 140 over 90 millimeters of mercury, or higher.

These delicious foods are laden with added sugar, salt, vegetable oils, and other additives, that can harm your arteries, causing them to narrow, stiffen, and weaken, which can make your hypertension worse.

Salt is well known for increasing blood pressure – especially in people with already high levels. But sugar is also a major contributor to high blood pressure, and is a leading cause of it.

If you or someone you care about has high blood pressure, it’s important to pay attention to this list of foods, so keep watching till the end.

First, let’s talk about salt. Number Five is, “High Added-Sodium Foods.”

If you are living with hypertension, avoid getting too much sodium in your diet, AND choose the right type of salt.

Salt and sodium are not the same; salt is composed of 40% sodium, and 60% chloride in its chemical makeup.


Too much sodium leads to water retention, which raises your blood pressure, and potentially increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Certain groups, such as people with high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, older adults, and African Americans, are particularly sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium.

However, it’s important NOT to go too far in the other direction, and get too little sodium.

Your body needs a moderate amount of sodium to regulate fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contraction, so a healthy intake is important.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day for most people, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams per day for those with high blood pressure.

This recommendation is based on the fact that many Americans consume far too much sodium – around 3,500 milligrams daily, with nearly 70% coming from processed, or restaurant foods.


In contrast, people in countries like China, get up to 75% of their sodium from adding salt in the process of cooking.

This brings us to an important point: your choice of salt can affect your blood pressure.

Table salt is a common household item, but it is a highly refined product that has been chemically processed, and stripped of any beneficial minerals that are naturally present.

It often contains additives such as dextrose (sugar), anti-caking agents to prevent clumping, and artificially-added iodine. Worse still, table salt can be exposed to pollutants like microplastics during processing.

Refined salt is widely used in packaged and processed foods, to extend shelf life, and to enhance taste and flavor, along with sugar, fats, and other additives.

If you have high blood pressure, avoid table salt, as it can raise blood pressure more than natural salt.


Switch to natural salt, such as sea salt and Himalayan salt, which has less sodium per teaspoon compared to table salt.

Also, these unrefined salts retain beneficial minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, and are free from harmful additives, or pollutants.

Look for a trusted brand that sources their salt from toxin-free origins.

Now, let’s look at the list of processed foods with high sodium content, that people with high blood pressure should avoid.

These foods can easily exceed your recommended daily sodium intake, especially when they’re combined.

One. Canned foods, such as tomato sauce, corn, baked beans, fruits, and chicken noodle soup.


Just half a cup of marinara sauce contains over 400 milligrams of sodium, while canned beans can pack over 1,000 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Two. Processed and deli meats, like turkey, salami, ham, roast beef, hot dogs, and sausages, that are pre-cooked or cured, then sliced, and served cold or hot.

Just three slices of turkey can easily add up to 1000 milligrams of sodium, and a single serving of salami contains 910 milligrams of sodium.

When you build a sandwich with mustard, pickles, cheese, and whole wheat bread, each item can add an additional 200 to 400 milligrams of sodium.

Three. Pre-packaged foods, such as frozen pizza, frozen pies, and frozen vegetarian foods, like chicken nuggets.

A regular 12-inch frozen pepperoni pizza can easily exceed 1,500 milligrams of sodium, the recommended daily intake.


Four. High-sodium snacks, like potato chips, salted nuts, cheese slices, instant noodles, and pickles.

A medium-sized pickle alone can supply up to 800 milligrams of sodium.

While a pack of instant noodles contains up to 1,820 milligrams of sodium, along with MSG and TBHQ that can raise blood pressure.

Five. Condiments, such as mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing, hot sauce, ketchup, teriyaki sauce and soy sauce.

A tablespoon of ketchup has 160 milligrams of sodium, teriyaki sauce nearly 700 milligrams, and soy sauce is the highest with 1,500 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon.

You do not want to get your daily salt from ultra-processed foods, whether or not you have high blood pressure.


Eat potassium-rich, fresh fruits and vegetables daily, to balance out any excess sodium.

Next, let’s talk about sugar. Number Four is, “High Added-Sugar Foods.”

Research from 2014, published in Open Heart, argues that added sugar, especially fructose, is worse for blood pressure than salt.

Note that the researchers are NOT talking about naturally occurring sugars in the form of whole foods, like fresh fruit. Natural sugars in fruit tend not to affect blood pressure because of the fiber.

Rather, the researchers are talking about added sugar, such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), commonly found in ultra-processed foods- which also contain added sodium.

According to the study, participants who consumed high-sugar meals for a period of two weeks, showed a significant increase in both systolic, and diastolic blood pressure levels.

For people with high blood pressure, the researchers recommend focusing on reducing sugar intake, rather than solely restricting sodium, as getting too little sodium can also be detrimental to health.

To cut back on added sugar, limit, or avoid ultra-processed foods, like candy, milk chocolate, soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, and highly-refined carbs like donuts, and baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, muffins, pastries, and sliced white bread.

Doing this will significantly lower BOTH added sugar, and added sodium, which will help hypertensive people manage their blood pressure better.

The American Heart Association, recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than 6% of daily calories.

This translates to about 6 teaspoons for women, and 9 teaspoons for men.

However, the average American adult consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which is around 15% or more, of total daily calories.

This excessive added sugar consumption poses a bigger threat to blood pressure and heart disease, than salt alone.

In a 2011 study, scientists at Imperial College, London, looked at nearly 2,700 people who drank soda. They found that those who had more than one sugary drink per day had higher blood pressure. And the more soda they drank, the higher their blood pressure.

The researchers identified the main culprits as glucose, fructose, and salt that are commonly used as sweeteners and preservatives in soda.

A regular 12-ounce can of soda contains a whopping 39 grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar, which easily exceeds the AHA recommended daily limit.

So, how does added sugar, including from table sugar (sucrose), lead to high blood pressure?

The short answer is: through the effects of insulin.

When you consume a diet high in added sugars, especially from sugary drinks and refined carbs, it leads to constantly elevated blood sugar levels. This prompts your pancreas to overproduce insulin in an effort to lower your blood sugar.

Over time, the excess insulin causes your cells to become resistant to insulin’s effects, a condition known as insulin resistance. As a result, your pancreas has to work even harder, leading to even higher insulin levels in your bloodstream (hyperinsulinemia).

This excessive insulin has FOUR consequences that can raise your blood pressure:

One. High insulin levels cause your kidneys to reabsorb more sodium; this increases your blood volume and puts greater pressure on your blood vessels.

Two. Too much insulin blocks the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps keep your blood vessels flexible, and able to expand. When there’s not enough nitric oxide, blood vessels lose flexibility, and this leads to high blood pressure, inflammation in the vessels, and atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the vessel walls), a key risk factor for heart disease.

Three. Insulin ramps up your sympathetic nervous system, which manages things like heart rate and blood vessel constriction. This causes your blood vessels to narrow, and your blood pressure to rise.

Four. Insulin messes with the careful balance of ions, like sodium and potassium, moving in and out of cells, which can contribute to high blood pressure.

Furthermore, a 2017 study focused on older women, found that consuming a lot of added sugars can actually increase your sensitivity to salt. This means the blood-pressure-raising effects of sodium get amplified, when you’re ALSO eating a diet high in added sugars.

Also, insulin resistance can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, all of which are closely linked with an increased risk of hypertension.

Now, a lot of people turn to artificial sweeteners, thinking they’re a healthier alternative to sugar, but research shows that this may not be the case.

A 2017 study from the Canadian Medical Association found that artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose, can actually increase your blood pressure. They’re also linked to other health problems like heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes.

Stevia is often perceived as more “natural”, but it still requires processing and extraction to be used as a sweetener.

Food companies add artificial sweeteners to many processed foods and drinks, like diet soda, baked goods, ice cream, and yogurt, so remember to check the food labels.

The next food to avoid, is Number Three, “Fried Foods.”

Fried foods are never healthy, but they’re more dangerous for people with high blood pressure.

They include donuts, French fries, corn dogs, fried cheese curds, fried chicken, and fried fish.

A 2019 study showed that the more fried foods you consume, the higher your blood pressure can rise, with those eating fried food daily having a 14% increased risk of heart disease.

Another 2018 study, suggested that a Southern American diet rich in fried foods elevates blood pressure by as much as 17%.

The high temperatures in deep frying can lead to the formation of harmful substances called Advanced Glycation End Products, or AGEs, when protein or fat combine with sugar.

When eaten, the high amount of AGEs in fried foods increase inflammation and oxidative stress in your blood vessels. This is why consuming a lot of fried items can make it hard to manage your blood pressure.

Also, the vegetable oils often used in fast food restaurants for frying, are oxidized and become rancid during refining.

Prolonged consumption of these refined oils, can trigger inflammation, and the accumulation of plaque in your arteries, which can worsen your high blood pressure.

The vegetable oils to avoid include soybean, cottonseed, corn, safflower, grapeseed, and canola oil.

Instead cook with unrefined oils, like macadamia oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and sesame oil.

The next drink to avoid is, Number Two. “Alcohol.”

When it comes to alcohol and blood pressure, it’s clear that alcohol consumption increases blood pressure.

A 2023 review of 15 controlled studies, shows that reducing alcohol intake can lead to a decrease in blood pressure; and the more you cut back on alcohol, the better your blood pressure results. Conversely, if you drink more, your blood pressure is likely to go up.

If you have high blood pressure, and choose not to stop drinking entirely, limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day, whether it’s wine, beer, whiskey, or mixed drinks.

And at Number One, avoid “Highly-Caffeinated Drinks.”

When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine enters your bloodstream and stimulates your nervous system. This can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure, even in people without hypertension.

Energy drinks are particularly concerning, as they often contain 2 to 6 times more caffeine than coffee, and should be avoided.

A 2019 study by the American Heart Association found that drinking 32 ounces of an energy drink can increase blood pressure and heart rate within 30 minutes.

The researchers warn that those with high blood pressure should avoid energy drinks, as they increase the risk of a dangerous heart condition, called ventricular arrhythmia.

However, when it comes to coffee, the long-term effects of caffeine on blood pressure are less clear.

Some studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers, may become less sensitive to the impact of caffeine on blood pressure.

Also, Harvard researchers found no link between heart disease and coffee, even in heavy coffee drinkers.

So, if you have hypertension, but feel fine after drinking coffee, you can likely continue to enjoy it in moderation.

But if you notice your blood pressure increases after consuming coffee, it’s wise to cut back.