If you deal with high blood pressure or hypertension, then you know eating the right foods is the best way to manage your levels. Consuming whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, nuts, seeds, and legumes benefit the heart. Additionally, you need to avoid processed foods and other foods that are high in sugar and sodium. There are foods, which you may think are healthy, that actually raise your blood pressure levels.
Managing your blood pressure, or any chronic health issue, can be a constant challenge, even overwhelming at times. This is especially hard when you have to avoid one extremely tasty and common ingredient: salt. You cannot live without salt, but too much of it can elevate blood pressure levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Consuming too much salt makes it more difficult for the kidneys to properly eliminate fluid, which can build up in the body and contribute to hypertension over time.
Hypertension essentially stiffens and narrows blood vessels, which ultimately decreases the amount of oxygen and blood that flows to vital organs. That, in turn, forces the heart to pump more blood to make up for the shortage. So what can you do to avoid this problem? Staying away from overly salty food is a great first step, but you also have to keep an eye out for the following foods, some of which you may not know are high in sodium.
It’s very common to think that what you put inside the tortilla is more important than the tortilla itself. You may think that getting a wrap (often a tortilla) is a healthier choice than a sandwich. While deli meats and cheeses are undoubtedly high in sodium, you need to consider the tortilla. According to the available food data, a one-ounce serving of white flour tortillas has 194 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Compare that to the same serving size of corn tortillas, which only contains 13 mg of sodium. Adding chicken and cheese to a flour tortilla can raise sodium levels to 601 mg!
A lot of people enjoy shrimp because it contains high levels of protein, but this seafood option is quite high in sodium. In fact a 100-gram (g) serving of shrimp contains 111 mg of sodium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Shrimp inhabit saltwater habitats, but that’s not the only reason they are high in sodium. Freshly-caught shrimp tend to be soaked in a salty brine within minutes of harvesting them. This brine helps reduce their temperature more quickly to prevent ice crystals from forming during the freezing process.
How can something that sounds so healthy be rich in sodium and harmful to your heart? Let us be clear and say that juicing your own vegetables or buying cold-pressed vegetable juice from a juice bar is completely healthy. Most vegetables are naturally low in sodium and contain nutrients that can help reduce blood pressure levels. We are, of course, referring to store bought vegetable juice, which contains processed ingredients and preservatives. One cup of your average store bought vegetable juice contains 52 mg of sodium. If you want the nutrients from vegetables, eat them raw, blend them into a smoothie, steam them, or juice them yourself.
The sad reality is that eating a salad of vegetables is healthy, but dressing it with a store bought dressing can cancel a lot of the nutritional benefits. Many store bought dressings contain added flavors, processed ingredients, trans & saturated fats, dairy products, and more. A 2009 study of the sodium content in major brands of packaged foods in the U.S. found that salad dressing had the highest average concentrations of sodium per 100 g. In fact, the range of sodium per 100 g was 1,072 to 1,067 mg. Drenching your salads in bottled dressing is like dousing them in salt. Most bottled dressings contain 300 to 500 mg of sodium in a two-tablespoon serving!
Canned vegetables are not all bad, due to the fact that they contain thiamin, protein, folate, iron, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. Unfortunately, canned vegetables contain a lot of preservatives and sodium. Sure, there are low-sodium and “no salt added” varieties (which still contain sodium), but the average person doesn’t buy those varieties. A can of green peas, for example, has 310 mg of sodium per serving, and there are typically three to four servings per can. If you eat fresh peas, they only contain seven mg of sodium per cup.