It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day. However, if it stays elevated for too long, it can damage the heart and cause other health problems. For example, having severe high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States. If you want to avoid these risks, it’s important to keep your blood pressure in a safe range.
Besides medication, there are other ways to lower blood pressure, including increasing exercise and changing your diet, both by watching what you drink and what you eat. If you don’t know where to start making changes, let’s start with the meat section. We spoke with Lisa R. Young, PhD, RDNauthor of Finally full, finally slim i The Plan of the Cashier of Portionsregarding the worst meats to avoid to lower blood pressure.
Easy to pick up at your local deli or the deli counter of your grocery store, meats are a regular household staple. You can use them to make quick, easy and tasty sandwiches. However, convenience is not always better.
“Meats are highly processed and full of sodium and often contain a sodium nitrate preservative,” says Dr. Young. “Nitrates have been linked to heart disease. Excess sodium (salt) is linked to hypertension.”
In a research published by the Proceedings of the Mayo Clinic, those who consumed more nitrates than others had a greater risk of major cardiovascular problems than those who consumed less. In addition, in another article published in the Journal of Nutrientsseveral studies showed that consuming a lot of sodium is associated with a greater risk of hypertension (also known as high blood pressure).
A very popular breakfast meat, a strip of bacon can raise blood pressure.
“Bacon is loaded with sodium and nitrates that can raise blood pressure,” says Dr. Young.
A strip of bacon calculates about 115 milligrams of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends that those with high blood pressure consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Although this is slightly more than 7% of the recommended amount, this can easily add up. And instead of one strip of bacon, it becomes two, three or four. Think about that the next time you eat a bacon, lettuce and tomato (BLT) sandwich. Watch how many slices you eat.
Fast food chains usually have a negative reputation for all the unhealthy food they sell. While they’ve gotten better at selling healthier food options, you still need to keep an eye on some menu items. Especially when you watch your blood pressure.
Specifically, Dr. Young recommends staying away from cheeseburgers and fried chicken sandwiches.
“These are full of sodium along with fat and calories, all of which can contribute to high blood pressure,” says Dr. Young.
Looks like these barbecue classics need to be taken off the grill.
“Hot dogs are highly processed meat and high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure,” says Dr. Young.
One hot dog contains 424 milligrams of sodium, which is about 28% of the recommended daily intake if you have high blood pressure, which is a lot for a small piece of meat. Instead, if you feel the urge to barbecue, stick to a hamburger, where a cooked ground beef patty has only about 78 milligrams of sodium.
However, if you have or are at risk of high blood pressure, it is best to keep these meats away from your diet. Because even if they seem small in size, they have a bigger impact than you might think!
Kayla Garritano is a writer for Eat This, Not That! He graduated from Hofstra University, where he majored in Journalism and minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more