High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is important to try and keep it in check. Avoiding sodium is one of the best dietary tips for lower blood pressure, but this requires more than simply avoiding table salt. Some of the foods responsible for high blood pressure may surprise you.
Frozen fish and seafood
It can be tempting to think that frozen fish is just a more convenient alternative to fresh fish, but for the most part this is not the case. Any crumbed frozen seafood is usually very high in sodium content and fat, and even the uncoated products are sometimes treated with a sodium solution to retain moisture when they thaw out. If you have the option, fresh is almost always best.
It is often the simplest and easiest lunch option, but the humble sandwich is a sodium land mine field waiting to be wandered onto. We have been brainwashed into thinking sandwiches are a healthy alternative, but if you include processed chicken, you may find that the extra salt in this filling is even higher than some cured meats. Sure, we have been trained to avoid high-fat fillings such as ham and salami, but it’s time to ditch high-salt alternatives, like processed chook. And then there is the bread itself, whether it be a roll or sliced, which can also be extremely high in sodium, not to mention the addition of salty condiments such as mustard, pickles or olive dip. Check the labelling to see how much sodium these products contain.
A dairy intake coupled with Vitamin D to help bones stay healthy and stave off osteoporosis is helpful for some, but dairy products contain a good dose of sodium, too. One cup of low-fat milk contains around 100mg of sodium and cheeses can have even higher levels. Aim for a cheese that has 140mg or less per serving. A British cheese study found that Swiss cheeses often have the lowest sodium content.
While not containing sodium, your alcohol intake can play a role in high blood pressure. Alcohol has an especially marked effect on the blood pressure of women who smoke. Regular heavy or binge drinking can also cause substantial rises in blood pressure, sometimes extreme enough to lead to a stroke. As with most things, moderation is always the key.