It’s usually a good idea to watch your blood pressure, especially since nearly half of all adults and around 63 percent of adults 60 and older in the United States have hypertension. Usually, the focus is on what you should be doing, like eating a healthy diet or snacks that can lower your blood pressure. But, it’s also important to discuss what foods to avoid to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.

The common advice, like avoiding too much salt or fried foods, still rings true, even if salt may not be as bad as we typically think. While we could talk about the obvious foods to avoid, we’ll focus more on the sneaky ones that don’t get talked about enough. If you’re not careful, they can also raise your blood pressure as much as overly salty or fried foods!

Frozen Meals

Frozen meals can be incredibly convenient, especially if you’re not much of a cook. Though, this convenience can come with a price. While you may not suspect it, many frozen meals are loaded with sodium. You may not taste it, but it’s definitely there. One of the more traditional frozen dinner options, Salisbury steak, can contain 1,630 milligrams of sodium or 68 percent of your suggested daily value (DV). Even a healthier brand of frozen meal has Salisbury steak at 760 milligrams of sodium or 33 percent of your suggested DV.

While it lacks the convenience factor, there’s a definite benefit of cooking for yourself, as it gives you more control over the nutritional components of your meal.

Pickled Foods

Pickled foods can be tasty and add a unique flavor to sandwiches, proteins, and more. They can also be healthy for you, especially probiotic pickles. However, if you have high blood pressure, you may want to avoid pickles.

Salt is a key component in the pickling process, and much of that sodium sticks around. Even the relatively healthy dill pickle can contain upwards of 283 milligrams of sodium or 12 percent suggested DV. Then, you have sweet pickles, which have less sodium but more sugar. Keep in mind, sugar can also lead to high blood pressure. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an alterative to pickles that’s healthy for hypertension. If you love pickles, cut back and enjoy them as a special treat.

Canned Foods

Canning food is a great way to preserve it. It lasts for an extremely long time and can be stored in your pantry for a quick meal option. You can store next to anything in a can, from tuna and chicken to soups and vegetables. For anyone with high blood pressure, though, these are all quite high in sodium. Even reduced-sodium canned goods can still be high in sodium. Salt can act as a preserving agent, though the canning process does most of the work in this case. Studies are now also finding that bisphenol (BPA), a chemical found in the lining of cans, can also raise your blood pressure.

So, what can you do? One way to lower the sodium concern is to drain your cans before using them (if possible), which can lower the sodium content by 36 percent. You can also buy low-sodium or no-sodium-added canned goods. You can get frozen produce or other foods if you need to preserve them for any length of time. Finally, you can try to avoid BPA by purchasing canned goods in glass jars or BPA-free cans when they’re available.


While wine has been linked with lower blood pressure in the past, having higher amounts of alcohol (as little as three drinks in a sitting) can spike your blood pressure. Consistently over-drinking can increase your blood pressure in the long run. It can do this by fueling dehydration and limiting bodily functions that can regulate blood pressure. It can also be dangerous to mix alcohol and blood pressure medication. If you’re currently taking a medication for your blood pressure, don’t drink alcohol. If you’re not on medication, but want to watch your blood pressure, consider cutting back to moderately drinking or not drinking at all. You can always mimic the flavor of your favorite cocktail with an alcohol-free mocktail.

Grapefruit and Grapefruit Juice

While this one may not directly influence your blood pressure, grapefruit and grapefruit products don’t mix well with a lot of medications. They can actually interfere or have bad interactions with many prescription medications including drugs for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, and others. Grapefruit can increase how much of the drug your blood absorbs. With less of the prescription in your blood, it can increase your risk of side effects, change the way the medicine interacts with your body, or make other negative interactions more likely. If you’re on prescription medications and want to eat grapefruit, talk to your doctor to see if there are any known interactions. Don’t stop taking any medications over grapefruit.

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With hypertension being so common around the world, it’s a good idea for anyone to know what they should and shouldn’t be eating or drinking. Of course, knowing what foods you should be eating can give you a leg up, but we can’t always be perfect. Sticking to a diet is incredibly difficult, so giving yourself the backup option and knowing what foods to avoid can at least help you improve your blood pressure.