Types of Food to Avoid if You're Hypertensive

If you're hypertensive, it might seem like you can't eat any of your favorite foods anymore, but it's all a matter of making smarter, healthier types of food choices.
Types of Food to Avoid if You're Hypertensive

Last update: 30 May, 2022

What is hypertension, and what are the types of food you should avoid if you’re hypertensive? Would you like to learn how to take better care of yourself? If so, the first thing you need to do is know what high blood pressure is and the importance of taking steps every day to properly control it.

Arterial hypertension is one of the most common cardiovascular disorders. It develops when your heart has trouble pumping blood to the rest of your body.

It comes from the narrowing or obstruction of your arteries. This causes problems in blood flow, making your heart work much harder.

For decades it has been categorized as a “silent killer,” since it tends to be asymptomatic until it turns into a serious problem.

The most worrisome part is that it interferes with how other bodily systems function. Over time, these changes affect your quality of life. Because of this, it’s essential to get regular medical exams, especially when you have a family history or other risk factors for hypertension.

In addition, once diagnosed, the consumption of certain foods should be limited. Eating certain foods can cause more complications to this serious cardiovascular disorder. Do you know what they are? Let’s find out!

Eight types of food to avoid if you’re hypertensive

Food plays a very important role in the control of hypertension. Thus, while some foods contribute to reducing high blood pressure, others can make it worse. Here, we’ll focus on those that can be harmful.

In general, entities such as the American Heart Association recommend limiting foods and beverages that are high in calories and low in nutrients. In addition, sources of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium should also be limited.

To do so, we recommend reading the nutrition facts labels carefully. Therefore, it’s possible to determine if the food products have good nutritional value or if they aren’t healthy.

1. Bread

bread–foods to avoid if you have hypertension

Bread and other baked goods contain high levels of sodium and saturated fat, which once absorbed, increase arterial blood pressure. Just one serving of bread has up to 230 mg of sodium, or in other words, 15% of the daily recommended amount for your body.

The problem is made worse by the refined flours in bread; if over-consumed, it leads to weight gain, diabetes, and uncontrollably high blood pressure. In a study published in the journal Nutrients, bread consumption was associated with increased blood pressure in adults in Mexico City.

This and other related products are one of the main foods to avoid if you have hypertension.

2. Caffeinated beverages

Excessive consumption of drinks like coffee and soda contributes to elevated blood pressure, particularly when there is a diagnosis of hypertension. All caffeinated drinks and foods are stimulants that inevitably raise your blood pressure.

According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, caffeine can produce a brief but dramatic increase in blood pressure, even in those without high blood pressure. One hypothesis suggests caffeine may block a hormone that helps keep arteries widened, but there are no conclusive studies on this.

3. Salad dressings and sauces

Commercial salad dressings tend to have high levels of sodium which, as mentioned, can lead to a breakdown in arterial health.

Mayonnaise, ketchup, and other similar sauces include many added chemicals that, despite making food taste good, cause metabolic issues in the long-term. Therefore, they’re foods you should avoid if you have hypertension.

4. Margarine

Margarine is not necessarily bad if consumed in moderation. However, when choosing it, it’s important to choose the trans-fat-free versions. As some studies show, trans fats not only affect hypertension but are associated with other heart and metabolic diseases.

5. Cheese

Traditional cheeses include lots of salt and saturated fat, which can cause an increase in blood pressure. Sodium leads to fluid retention in your tissues, and at the same time increases blood pressure and inflammation.

Saturated fats affect your arteries, harden them, and interfere with blood circulation. Therefore, people with hypertension should avoid cheese or replace it with a vegan option.

6. Cold cuts are the type of food you must avoid if you’re hypertensive

Lunchmeat may seem like a good food choice because they always look fresh and are very tasty. However, for some years now their consumption has been discouraged due to very high levels of saturated fat and other chemical compounds that negatively affect your health, as detailed in a recent study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

Its levels of salt, put together with the calories and added preservatives, increases inflammation in tissues and restricts blood circulation through your arteries. In the long run, lunch meat and other processed-meat products can even be a cause of metabolic issues, including obesity and diabetes.

Lunch meats and their counterparts are some of the main foods you should avoid if you have hypertension.

7. Sweets

Avoid junk food if you're hypertensive.

Sweets and refined sugar are highly addictive, and unfortunately quite bad for your health. Therefore, if you have hypertension, you should definitely avoid sweets, as they have been shown to lead to excessive weight gain.

They can also lead to complications such as diabetes. However, you can opt for a small amount of dark chocolate which, due to the cocoa, is less harmful.

8. Pickles

Pickles you find in the store contain exorbitant amounts of salt, which increases the risk of arterial hypertension. In a recent study published in Clinical Nutrition Research, they were even linked to an increased risk of obesity.

You can always consult a nutritionist in regard to the food you can eat when you’re hypertensive

There are several regular types of food to avoid when you’re hypertensive. If you identify them in your diet and suffer from this health problem, try to substitute them with healthy alternatives.

However, if you have doubts about how your diet should be, consult a nutritionist. This professional will be able to tell you what’s best for you and why, as well as make suggestions for a balanced diet.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • OMS, O. M. de la S. (2013). Información general sobre la hipertensión en el mundo. Oms. https://doi.org/WHO/DCO/WHD/2013.2
  • Ponce-Martínez X, Colin-Ramirez E, Sánchez-Puerto P, et al. Bread Consumption Is Associated with Elevated Blood Pressure among Adults Living in Mexico City⁻A Sub-Analysis of the Tlalpan 2020 Study. Nutrients. 2018;10(12):1969. Published 2018 Dec 13. doi:10.3390/nu10121969
  • Ndanuko RN, Tapsell LC, Charlton KE, Neale EP, Batterham MJ. Dietary Patterns and Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(1):76–89. Published 2016 Jan 15. doi:10.3945/an.115.009753
  • Martínez-Vila, E., Murie Fernández, M., Pagola, I., & Irimia, P. (2010). Enfermedades cardiovasculares. Anales de Patología Vascular. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892000000100012
  • ENSANUT. (2012). Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición 2012. 2012. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004
  • Micha R, Mozaffarian D. Trans fatty acids: effects on cardiometabolic health and implications for policy. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2008;79(3-5):147–152. doi:10.1016/j.plefa.2008.09.008
  • Sathyanarayana Rao TS, Yeragani VK. Hypertensive crisis and cheese. Indian J Psychiatry. 2009;51(1):65–66. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.44910
  • van den Brandt, P. A. (2019). Red meat, processed meat, and other dietary protein sources and risk of overall and cause-specific mortality in The Netherlands Cohort Study. European Journal of Epidemiology, 34(4), 351–369. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-019-00483-9
  • Rouhani MH, Agh F, Azadbakht L. Pickle Consumption is Associated with Body Mass Index and Blood Pressure among Iranian Female College Students: a Cross-Sectional Study. Clin Nutr Res. 2018;7(4):256–265. doi:10.7762/cnr.2018.7.4.256

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.