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6 Foods to Avoid to Prevent High Blood Pressure

Over 600,000 women & men die each year in the United States because of Heart Disease!

That’s 1 in every 4 deaths -- Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both sexes in the country.

Aside from hereditary factors*, ethnicity and age, the most common causes of heart disease are actually "completely avoidable".

* High cholesterol is genetic for about 1 in 200 people in the United States

Here are a couple of immediate ways to improve heart health:

  • Going for a 30-minute walk each day
  • Cutting back on salt — season foods with spices, herbs, lemon, and salt-free seasoning blends instead

Aside from regular physical activity & cutting back on salt, simply knowing which foods contribute to high blood pressure—and avoiding them, is crucial.

Here are the Six Worst Offenders:

1. Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to an unhealthy level. If you drink alcohol (yes, even including red wine), do so in moderation. Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increase. It can also contribute to high triglycerides, cancer, obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. If you drink, limit consumption to no more than two drinks per-day for men and one drink per-day for women. Generally, a drink would either mean a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

2. Soft Drinks

Until 1985, most soft drinks in the United States used cane sugar or corn syrup as sweetener. As of 2010, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is almost exclusively used as a sweetener because of its lower cost. The problem with HFCS is that it is linked to a significant increase in the dangerous fat around your belly and organs. Known as visceral fat, this excessive belly fat is tied to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A 2-decade study in 40,000 men found that the men who drank at least one soda a day had a 20% higher risk of having—or dying from—a heart attack, compared to those who rarely consumed soft drinks.

3. Fried Foods

In a joint study conducted by Harvard University and the National University of Singapore, researchers found that people who ate fried food at least once per week had a greater risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and that the risk increased as the frequency of fried food consumption increased. For instance, participants who ate fried foods 4-6 times per week had a 39% increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and those who did 7 or more times a week had a 55% increased risk, compared to those who ate fried foods less than once a week.

4. Processed Meats

Processed lunch meats are often cured, seasoned, and preserved with high levels of salt. In fact, just a 2-ounce serving of processed meat could easily contain 500mg of sodium. Add cheese, bread, pickles and condiments and your lunch sandwich has just become a salt bomb. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that around 75% of the salt Americans eat in a day comes from processed foods and salt added to foods at restaurants and other food service establishments. If you cannot avoid eating processed & deli meats, limit your intake to two very small (2-3oz) servings a week.

5. Refined Carbs and Processed Grains

The most common sources of refined carbohydrates are white bread, white rice, white flour, sodas, pasta, breakfast cereals and added sugars. Refined carbohydrates have been stripped of almost all fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are also digested quickly, and have a high glycemic index. This means that they lead to rapid spikes in insulin and blood sugar levels after meals. Switch to whole grains instead as they are very high in dietary fiber.

Whole grains consist of three main parts: the bran (hard outer layer, containing fiber, minerals and antioxidants), the germ (the nutrient-rich core, containing protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds), and the endosperm (the middle layer, containing carbohydrates and small amounts of protein).

6. Tran Fats and Saturated Fats

Consuming a lot of saturated fat increases risks for hypertension, obesity and high blood cholesterol—in particular “bad cholesterol” (LDL). Saturated fat can be found in chicken, red meat, dairy products and in some plant-based foods like coconut and palm oil. It can also be found in processed foods (i.e. pastries and biscuits) and food items that list ingredients like butter, palm oil (often simply called vegetable oil), meat and cheese. Be sure to check labels for saturated fats, trans fat, and hydrogenated oil. These foods should not go beyond 6% of your total calorie intake.

In Summary

Heart disease is the cause of 1 in every 4 deaths, according to Harvard University. While it causes no symptoms, it raises the risks of serial killers like heart attack and stroke, as well as cognitive decline, brain aneurysms and kidney failure. Regular physical activity & knowing which food items to avoid is crucial for a healthy heart and for your well-being.

Healthy Habits Tip: According to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming Ceylon (Sri Lanka) cinnamon every day may be good for heart health—especially in people with hypertension. It was found that just by consuming half a teaspoon a day is enough to reduce one’s blood pressure levels without the use of statin drugs.

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