50 foods to avoid with high blood pressure (2023)

People with high blood pressure can benefit from a diet that is low in added salts and sugars and limits the intake of red meats, processed foods, saturated fats, and alcohol.

Instead, people can opt for plant-based foods, whole grains, and healthy fats. Along with other measures, these foods can help manage blood pressure.

About 45% of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This may increase their risk of heart disease, stroke, and numerous other health problems.

The right diet can help a person control their blood pressure levels.

In this article, we present 50 foods and drinks that could contribute to high blood pressure, and we list some foods a person can include in their diet. We also provide some recipe ideas.

Sodium can elevate blood pressure. Many people eat too much sodium without realizing it.

Processed and fast foods usually contain excessive amounts of sodium, often more than the 2,300 milligrams a person should consume per day.

It is advisable to check nutrition labels and be aware that even foods people tend to consider healthy, such as vegetable juice, may be high in sodium.

Examples of foods with high levels of sodium include:

  • rolls and bread
  • pizza
  • sandwiches
  • cold cuts and cured meats
  • canned soup
  • tacos and burritos

Sugary food offers few health benefits and raises a person’s risk of unintentional weight gain. It may also contribute to high blood pressure.

A 2014 study suggests sugary foods may increase blood pressure even more than salt. The study mentions foods containing high fructose corn syrup as a factor that can raise blood pressure.

The following are examples of foods that may contain high fructose corn syrup:

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  • processed desserts
  • prepackaged meals
  • crackers
  • granola bars or other nutrition bars
  • peanut butter

A person should check the packaging on these foods to ensure they are choosing products free from high fructose corn syrup.

Learn more about high fructose corn syrup here.

Red meat can raise a person’s blood pressure. The process of metabolizing red meat in the body may also release compounds that elevate blood pressure even more.

The following are all red meats:

  • beef
  • lamb
  • pork
  • veal
  • venison
  • goat

A person should try to limit red meats as much as possible or choose leaner cuts. The redder the meat in color, the more likely it is to increase blood pressure levels.

While having the occasional sugary beverage can be OK, drinking lots of sugar-sweetened drinks may raise blood pressure.

Moreover, many sugary drinks also have caffeine in them, which can elevate blood pressure even more.

Sugary drinks that may contain caffeine or high fructose corn syrup can include sodas and fruit juices.

Drinking too much alcohol can raise a person’s blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Excessive alcohol drinking may also be an independent risk factor for heart disease.

Alcohol also contains lots of empty calories. Consuming it may cause unintentional weight gain or replace healthier meal options.

The AHA advises that males limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day and that females have no more than one drink daily.

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A person looking to lower their blood pressure or reduce their risk of high blood pressure should limit their intake of saturated fats.

For most people, this means that no more than 5–6% of daily calories should come from saturated fats, which can be present in sweets and baked goods.

Examples of foods containing saturated fats include:

  • desserts, such as chocolate, toffee, cakes, puddings, biscuits, and pastries and pies
  • processed meat, including sausages, burgers, bacon, and kebabs
  • cooking fats, such as butter, lard, ghee, dripping, margarine, goose fat, or suet
  • oils, including coconut oil and cream and palm oils
  • full-fat dairy products, such as cream, milk, yogurt, crème fraiche, and cheese

Packaged foods that might seem healthy, such as vegetable- and meat-based meals, may get much of their flavor from high levels of sodium.

It is advisable to avoid these foods as much as possible or check nutrition labels and choose only those products that have a relatively low sodium content.

A person with high blood pressure does not need to avoid all condiments. However, it is important to check the label, as some products can contain high amounts of sugar or sodium.

It is also important not to rely on taste, as even condiments that do not taste salty may be high in sodium.

Examples of condiments that may contain high amounts of salt or sugar include:

  • ketchup
  • chili sauce
  • soy sauce
  • salad dressings

A person can check the packaging and replace condiments they often use with products that are low in salt, sugar, or both.

50. Caffeine

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Caffeine can temporarily elevate blood pressure, causing very high blood pressure readings.

People trying to limit their caffeine consumption may choose to drink less regular coffee or replace it with decaffeinated coffee.

People with a history of dangerously high blood pressure may need to contact a doctor to discuss decreasing or eliminating their caffeine intake.

Eating a varied diet full of nutrient-dense foods can help reduce high blood pressure. Some foods worth including in the diet are:

Replacement ideas

Consider replacing processed foods with heart-healthy alternatives. For example, instead of a sugary snack, choose some fruit.

It is also better to opt for carbonated or flavored water rather than soda. People can also try substituting condiments with cracked pepper and a jalapeno.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that people working toward a healthier diet make gradual changes.

A person might start by eliminating one unhealthy food each week or gradually eating smaller portions.

This table shows how many servings of different foods a person should include per day according to the number of calories (kcal) they consume:

1,600 kcal2,000 kcal2,600 kcal
Fat-free or low fat
milk products
Lean meats, poultry,
Nuts, seeds,
(per week)
Fats, oils22–33
Sweets, added sugars0<5
(per week)

For example, a person can eat the following foods throughout the day:

  • Breakfast: whole grain toast with fruit and a glass of milk, or oatmeal with fruit
  • Lunch: grilled chicken with a side salad, or a bowl of quinoa and a serving of fruit
  • Snack: fruit, vegetables, cheese, whole grain pasta or bread, or a fruit and a vegetable smoothie
  • Dinner: whole grain pasta, eggs, and a vegetable or fruit, or nuts with lean meat, such as chicken, and a few fruit sides

Daily habits

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A number of lifestyle changes can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health, including:

A person should also get enough exercise where possible. Some people may need to start small and then gradually work up to more activity.

People may also wish to ask a doctor about taking blood pressure medication.

High blood pressure increases a person’s risk of developing a number of health problems, including:

High blood pressure is a medical emergency if the systolic blood pressure, or the top number, is above 180 or if the diastolic blood pressure, which is the bottom number, is above 120.

Learn about blood pressure levels here.

A person should consult a doctor if:

  • they believe they have high blood pressure
  • their blood pressure remains high in spite of having made lifestyle and dietary changes
  • their blood pressure continues to rise
  • they experience side effects from blood pressure medication

Learn about regular blood pressure screenings here.

High blood pressure is a serious health risk factor. It is also treatable.

Eating a varied diet full of nutrient-dense foods can help a person reduce high blood pressure and thus minimize their risk of serious heart health issues.

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Read this article in Spanish.


What is the number one food that causes high blood pressure? ›

Salt or sodium

Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood.

What food must I eat when I have high blood? ›

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy. These foods are high in key nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein.

What meat is good for high blood pressure? ›

Lean beef, pork, chicken and fatty fish are good proteins to help promote healthy blood pressure. Fatty fish like salmon are loaded with omega-3 fats, and high levels of this healthy fat are associated with lower SBP and DBP.

What is the number 1 vegetable to avoid? ›

Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables that belong to the cabbage family such as cauliflower, Brussels, broccoli, and sprouts should never be consumed raw. These vegetables contain sugar that is difficult to digest. Eating these vegetables raw may lead to a number of gastronomical problems.

What brings blood pressure down? ›

Eating less sodium, sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods. Regularly engaging in low-impact exercise (about 30 minutes every day) Taking medication to lower blood pressure.

What drinks spike blood pressure? ›

Coffee, tea, and energy drinks often contain caffeine, which can cause your blood pressure to rise by 10 mmHg or more (especially in those who also smoke).

Does eating a hamburger raise blood pressure? ›

Red and processed meats are high in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium, which can lead to hypertension and other forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Is spaghetti good for high blood pressure? ›

Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.

Is pizza good for high blood pressure? ›

Pizza. Just one slice of cheese and pepperoni pizza can contain more than half of your daily recommended dietary sodium. Heck, even if you go for the veggie version, you're still knocking your blood pressure.

Can I eat chicken if I have high blood pressure? ›

A widespread mistake many people make is that they think chicken is very high in calories. However, this is not the case. On the contrary, chicken is one of the best food items you can eat if you have blood pressure.

Is shrimp good for high blood pressure? ›

The healthy fats in shrimp, like omega-3 fatty acids, can lower your blood pressure and odds of getting heart disease and stroke.

Are scrambled eggs good for high blood pressure? ›

Egg consumption has no significant effects on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults.

Are Cheerios good for high blood pressure? ›

Including a bowl of cereal for breakfast is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to tap into the health-boosting power of whole grains. Eating whole grain cereal may be especially valuable for reducing the risk of high blood pressure.

Are potatoes good for high blood pressure? ›

According to the book, 'Healing Foods' by DK Publishing House, "potatoes are high in chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins, chemicals that help to lower blood pressure. The polyphenol in purple potatoes may also help." Additionally, potatoes are also a good source of potassium.

Is turkey OK for high blood pressure? ›

"Generally, all processed meat products, including turkey, contribute a significant amount of sodium," she said. Higher sodium contributes to high blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular events.

Is grilled chicken good for high blood pressure? ›

Routinely eating grilled or well-done beef, chicken or fish may raise the risk of developing high blood pressure, according to preliminary research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Is pork OK for high blood pressure? ›

Another study showed that red meat is connected to the development of hypertension, and is in the group of foods that raise blood pressure quickly. That means omitting chicken, beef, veal, pork, venison, and lamb is necessary for a healthy diet.

What vegetable should I eat everyday? ›

Healthy eating means consuming more dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and other dark leafy greens. Include more red or orange vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and legumes, in your diet (dry beans and peas).

Which bell pepper is healthiest? ›

Red bell peppers are the most nutrient-dense, which makes them the healthiest pepper. This is because they've been on the vine for longer when compared to orange, yellow and green peppers, and in that order too.

What helps blood pressure go down fast? ›

17 Effective Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
  • Increase activity.
  • Lose weight.
  • Cut back on sugar.
  • Eat more potassium.
  • Eat less processed food.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Try meditation or yoga.

Does lemon water bring your blood pressure down? ›

Citrus, such as lemon and limes, has been shown to reduce blood pressure and has the added benefit of adding a little flavor to a boring glass of water.

Does cinnamon lower blood pressure? ›


A review of 9 studies including 641 participants showed that taking cinnamon reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 6.2 mm Hg and 3.9 mm Hg, respectively.

What time of day is blood pressure lowest? ›

Blood pressure typically drops in the late afternoon and evening. Blood pressure is usually lower at night while sleeping. The blood pressure measurement at night is called nocturnal blood pressure.

What is the best tea for lowering blood pressure? ›

Some of the best teas for high blood pressure include chamomile, lavender, rose, and hibiscus. These teas are known for their ability to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. You can enjoy any of these teas by steeping them in hot water for a few minutes. Then, simply drink and relax.

When is the best time to take your blood pressure? ›

Take it first in the morning before eating or taking any medications. Take it again in the evening. Each time you measure, take two or three readings to make sure your results are the same. Your health care provider might recommend taking your blood pressure at the same times each day.

Is salad good for blood pressure? ›

Leafy greens

Potassium helps your kidneys get rid of more sodium through your urine. This in turn lowers your blood pressure. Leafy greens, which are high in potassium, include: romaine lettuce.

Is French fries good for high blood pressure? ›

Eating More (Baked) French Fries Could Be the Secret to Controlling Your Blood Pressure. The natural potassium found in potatoes was dubbed more helpful than potassium found in supplements, Purdue University researchers discovered during a recent study. The only catch? The potatoes or fries should be baked or broiled.

Can cheese raise blood pressure? ›

Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium but is often high in saturated fat and salt. This means eating too much could lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Is popcorn OK for high blood pressure? ›

Lower Risk of Hypertension

In addition to lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease, eating popcorn without a lot of added salt or butter may help you lower your blood pressure or lower the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Are tomatoes OK for high blood pressure? ›

Tomatoes are a good source of potassium, which also plays a role in lowering blood pressure.

Is Tuna pasta good for high blood pressure? ›

Tuna is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which can help lower cholesterol in your heart. Omega 3 fatty acids are also shown to have a link to lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks. Better yet, they've even been shown to help lower your blood pressure, which is a very good thing for your heart.

What is the best bread for high blood pressure? ›

If you're worried maintaining lowered blood pressure might mean giving up bread, you will be thrilled to know that whole grain breads made out of whole wheat, whole rye or whole multigrain have shown to have a blood pressure lowering effect if eaten regularly.

Is Chinese food good for high blood pressure? ›

Eating a modified version of traditional Chinese food containing half the amount of sodium may significantly lower blood pressure for Chinese adults in just a few weeks, new research shows.

Can hot dogs raise blood pressure? ›

However delicious hot dogs might be, it's important to remember they're processed meats, which aren't healthy if eaten regularly. “They can lead to elevated blood pressure values, blood cholesterol values, specifically bad levels of cholesterol,” said Julia Zumpano, registered dietician of Cleveland Clinic.

Is chicken noodle soup good for blood pressure? ›

Chicken Noodle Soup

One can or one bowl of this soup can be over 1,800 milligrams of sodium! And so if you have high blood pressure, then canned or processed chicken noodle soup is another food you want to avoid.

Does rotisserie chicken raise blood pressure? ›

A new research conducted by Harvard has shown that tucking in well-cooked meats including chicken and fish, may up your risk of developing high blood pressure. The three ways of cooking that were highlighted as culprits by the study included grilling, broiling and roasting.

Can I eat rotisserie chicken with high blood pressure? ›

Even though we love the taste and ease of rotisserie chicken, it doesn't come without its possible side effects. One major side effect of eating rotisserie chicken is that you might consume more sodium than usual, which could lead to spikes in your blood pressure or water retention.

Is boiled rice good for high blood pressure? ›

Consuming rice can be beneficial in keeping your blood pressure levels in check. However, the type of rice you choose also matters. The fibre content in whole grains such as brown rice is favourable in controlling your blood pressure.

Is fresh milk good for high blood pressure? ›

Drinking heart-healthy low-fat milk will provide you with calcium and vitamin D — the two nutrients work as a team to help reduce blood pressure by 3 to 10 percent. Although this doesn't sound like much, it could add up to about a 15 percent reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease.

Does crab meat raise blood pressure? ›

Crab is a good source of heart healthy omega 3s, which help lower triglycerides and blood pressure along with reducing the risk of heart disease. Omega 3s are also thought to reduce inflammation, enhance immune function, and lower the risk of certain types of cancer.

How can I lower my blood pressure quickly? ›

How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately?
  1. Take a warm bath or shower. Stay in your shower or bath for at least 15 minutes and enjoy the warm water. ...
  2. Do a breathing exercise. Take a deep breath from your core, hold your breath for about two seconds, then slowly exhale. ...
  3. Relax!

Can food immediately raise blood pressure? ›

A person's blood pressure typically drops slightly following a meal. However, foods high in sodium can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, while foods high in saturated fat can cause longer-term issues.

What drinks lower blood pressure? ›

Some drinks can help lower your blood pressure, including:
  • Skimmed milk. Low-fat dairy products like yogurt and skimmed milk can help lower high blood pressure. ...
  • Tomato juice. ...
  • Beet juice. ...
  • Hibiscus tea. ...
  • Pomegranate juice.

What can I take naturally to lower my blood pressure? ›

13 foods that help lower blood pressure
  1. Leafy greens. Potassium helps your kidneys get rid of more sodium through your urine. ...
  2. Berries. Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids. ...
  3. Red beets. ...
  4. Skim milk and yogurt. ...
  5. Oatmeal. ...
  6. Bananas. ...
  7. Salmon, mackerel, and fish with omega-3s. ...
  8. Seeds.

What time of the day is blood pressure highest? ›

Blood pressure has a daily pattern. Usually, blood pressure starts to rise a few hours before a person wakes up. It continues to rise during the day, peaking in midday. Blood pressure typically drops in the late afternoon and evening.

How long should you wait after eating to take your blood pressure? ›

If you are taking your blood pressure at home, your doctor will usually recommend that you take your blood pressure test in the morning before eating or wait thirty minutes after a meal. Not eating enough or fasting can also cause an inaccurate reading.

What do you drink before bed to lower your blood pressure? ›

The top drinks for lowering blood pressure include water, fruit juices (pomegranate, prune, cranberry, cherry), vegetable juice (tomato, raw beet), tea (black, green), and skim milk.

How do you feel when you have high blood pressure? ›

Moderate or severe headaches, anxiety, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, palpitations, or feeling of pulsations in the neck are some signs of high blood pressure. Often, these are late signs that high blood pressure has existed for some time, therefore annual checks are recommended for all adults.


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