Having high blood pressure is an increasingly common problem in the United States. This is often caused by genetics, other illnesses, poor diet, or a more sedentary lifestyle. But while high blood pressure can lead to more severe issues if it's untreated, there are many ways to manage and lower your blood pressure levels.
One of the ways people can manage their high blood pressure is through their diet. The CDC recommends eating a "healthy" diet with low sodium and low alcohol consumption, but what about everything in between? To learn more about what a healthy blood pressure diet consists of, we talked with some dietitians about the worst breakfast habits you'll want to avoid. Read on, and for more, don't miss 4 Best Eating Habits for High Blood Pressure, Says Dietitian.
Consuming salty foods
Certain popular breakfast items can come loaded with sodium without us even realizing it. Unfortunately, many dietitians warn that an increase in sodium can contribute to higher blood pressure. In fact, a report published in Nutrients states that reducing your sodium intake can not only reduce your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) but can also reduce your risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.
"Many breakfast sausages and some frozen breakfast sandwiches are high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure when consumed in large amounts over time. If you are grabbing one of these foods, it's important to pair it with something low in sodium like fruit or a whole grain like oats," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our expert medical board.
Skipping on fruits and veggies
One habit that many of us may not realize is harmful is not getting enough fruits and vegetables in the morning. According to The Cleveland Clinic, it is recommended that adults trying to lower their blood pressure get between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day. If you're not getting a serving or two at breakfast, this goal can be difficult to attain.
"Fruits and vegetables are naturally sodium-free (regular intakes of high sodium foods can contribute to high blood pressure over time) and many of them contain potassium, which can help lower high blood pressure in some people. Veggies may seem weird at breakfast, but you can scramble them into eggs or blend spinach or kale into a smoothie to amp up your morning intake of nutrients," says Goodson.
Following a restrictive diet
Many people may assume that sticking to a strict diet in order to lose weight can help them with their blood pressure as well, but some dietitians say that we should be careful in how restrictive we are being.
"Following restrictive eating behaviors in the pursuit of quick weight loss can be harmful to your blood pressure. Emerging research indicates that a HAES (Health At Every Size) approach (in comparison to a weight-centric intervention) is 'associated with statistically and clinically relevant improvements in physiological measures (e.g. blood pressure),"" says Rachel Fine, RDN, a registered dietitian and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition.
Restrictive diets have been known to deprive people of many of the nutrients they need, which can be detrimental to those who need to lower their blood pressure. If you want to lose weight, try talking with your doctor or dietitian about a blood-pressure-friendly pattern of eating that you can try.
Eating too much sugar
"Sugar and processed foods are highly inflammatory and increase blood sugars and the insulin response as well as the inflammatory response in your body. Inflammation can increase blood pressure as well," says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD a registered dietitian and author of Recipe for Survival. To understand what other foods to skip out on during your morning meal, don't miss The Worst Breakfast Foods for Inflammation, Says Dietitian.