6 Worst Snacks for High Blood Pressure
If you're trying to lower your blood pressure, you've likely had to make some changes to your diet—especially when it comes to watching your sodium intake.
"Consuming too much sodium has been shown to raise blood pressure in some individuals, so it's important to understand what foods contain a large amount of sodium and how it could impact your blood pressure," explains Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, LMNT, CEC, registered dietitian, chef, and owner of the food blog Stirlist.
According to the American Heart Association, sodium (aka, salt) is one of the worst things you can eat if you have high blood pressure because it causes blood vessels to narrow while simultaneously causing your heart to pump more blood into them, raising blood pressure and forcing your heart to work harder.
"If you have high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 mg per day," says Pankonin. "This might mean some major life changes when it comes to grocery shopping and eating out."
And if you don't have high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300mg per day. For reference, here's what that looks like in table measurements:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
- 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
This can make snacking hard, especially since the processed foods many of us commonly reach for at snack time tend to have high sodium content. Here are six of the worst snacks for high blood pressure, according to dietitians.
"This snack might be good for road trips and baseball games but it's terrible for blood pressure," says Pankonin. "Depending on the brand, sunflower seeds can be as high as 1000 mg of sodium or more per serving."
Processed meats and cheese & crackers
"Talk about a triple whammy of sodium," says registered dietitian Jonathan Valdez, RDN, owner of Genki Nutrition and a spokesperson for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Processed meats use sodium for preservation, salt is used for flavoring cheese and preventing bacteria growth, and crackers are loaded with salt. Look for uncured meats, cheeses low in sodium like parmesan cheese or swiss cheese, and low sodium crackers."
Chips and queso (processed cheese)
"Processed cheese products like Velveeta contain 390 mg of sodium per serving," says Pankonin. "When it comes to queso or any dips, it's hard to estimate portion size which makes it very easy to overconsume."
"Even though pickles are low in calories and very filling, they are very high in sodium," explains Pankonin. "Most range anywhere from 250 mg to 300 mg of sodium per 1 oz. serving."
Canned soups and broths
"Want to eat that canned broth as a snack on a cold day? Think again. If you're doing a cube to make a broth, 1 cube can be as high as almost 1,000 mg of sodium," says Valdez. "There are low-sodium options so make sure you read the food label."
Bagels or bagel bites (frozen)
"Bagels or products like bagel bites can contain quite a bit of sodium. Bagels might not taste salty, especially when served with sweetened cream cheese," says Pankonin. "So for those with high blood pressure, it's important to understand that baked convenience items can contain quite a bit of sodium."