Which Foods Contribute To Higher Blood Pressure?

By Bridget Reed
Medically Reviewed by:

Heidi Wright, BSN, RN, PCCN, and Certified Master Herbalist

Which Foods Contribute To Higher Blood Pressure?

May 27, 2024

If you've ever been curious about why some foods make your blood pressure spike while others keep it steady or even help lower blood pressure, you're in the right place. This guide will explore which foods are likely culprits in raising blood pressure and why it's crucial to be aware of them.

So, if you're ready to transform your eating habits with heart-healthy lifestyle changes, let's dive into the science of high blood pressure and the role of diet in managing it.

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is more than just a number your doctor tells you during check-ups; it's a vital sign of how well your heart and arteries are working. 

Essentially, blood pressure is the force exerted by your blood against the walls of your arteries as it circulates through your body. It's determined by both the amount of blood your heart pumps and the resistance to blood flow in your arteries.

When we talk about healthy blood pressure levels, we're referring to the optimal range that indicates your heart and arteries are functioning efficiently without undue stress:

  • Systolic Pressure:This is the higher number in a blood pressure reading, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic Pressure: The lower number, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

The ideal blood pressure readings for most adults are:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Elevated: 120-129/less than 80 mm Hg
  • Hypertension Stage 1: 130-139/80-89 mm Hg
  • Hypertension Stage 2: 140 or higher/90 or higher mm Hg
  • Hypertensive Crisis: Higher than 180/120 mm Hg, which requires immediate medical attention

Understanding these levels is important because high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, and can lead to heart attacks and strokes if left unmanaged. In other words, keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range is key for achieving good health.

What Influences High Blood Pressure?

Now that we have a handle on what blood pressure is, let’s talk about some of the most common influencing factors on blood pressure:

Age and Genetics

As you age, your risk of high blood pressure increases due to the natural stiffening of the arteries. Genetics can also play a significant role. If high blood pressure runs in your family, you might be more predisposed to developing it yourself.

Physical Activity

Regular exercise helps maintain heart health and manage weight, both of which are crucial in controlling blood pressure. Lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which is a strong risk factor for hypertension.


Chronic stress keeps your body in a constant fight-or-flight mode, which can cause a long-term increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Managing stress through relaxation techniques or therapy can help maintain a healthier blood pressure level.

Sleep Quality

Poor sleep, especially conditions like sleep apnea, can severely impact blood pressure. Ensuring a good night's sleep is essential for allowing your body to regulate stress hormones and maintain arterial health.

Substance Use

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can severely affect blood pressure. Tobacco narrows arteries and hardens their walls, and alcohol can disrupt the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the dilation and constriction of blood vessels.

How Does Diet Contribute to High Blood Pressure?

Believe it or not, diet plays a fundamental role in heart health

When we indulge in foods high in sodium, for instance, it can cause our body to retain excess fluid, which increases the pressure on our artery walls. 

Similarly, consuming a lot of foods rich in unhealthy fats and sugars doesn't just impact your waistline — it can also lead to higher blood pressure by stiffening and narrowing your arteries over time. So yes, healthy eating can have a significant impact on your blood pressure, turning a simple meal choice into a powerful tool for maintaining your heart's health. 

Which Foods Can Contribute to Higher Blood Pressure?

Navigating through the grocery store can sometimes feel like a minefield when you're trying to manage your blood pressure. Certain foods can sneak up on you with their high sodium content or hidden fats, pushing your blood pressure upwards. 

Let's break down some of these common culprits, each deserving a closer look to understand how they impact your heart's health.

Processed Deli Meats

Processed deli meats are often packed with sodium and preservatives, which can contribute to increased blood pressure. 

Regular consumption can also lead to weight gain, another risk factor for hypertension. Opting for low-sodium alternatives or lean protein sources like chicken or turkey can help manage your salt intake and keep your heart healthy.

Fried Foods

The allure of fried foods is hard to resist, but they're notorious for their high trans fats and sodium levels, both of which could lead to conditions that may raise your blood pressure. Instead, try baking or grilling your favorites to enjoy a heart-friendly version that supports lower high blood pressure.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

These drinks are a major source of added sugars in many diets, leading not only to weight gain but also to an increased risk of hypertension. Cutting down on sugary beverages can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and help maintain a healthier blood pressure.

Red Meat

While tasty, red meat can be high in cholesterol and fatty acids, which might contribute to a higher risk of high blood pressure over time. Consider replacing some red meat meals with heart-healthy options like legumes or fish, which are part of the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH diet).

Processed Condiments and Salad Dressings

Condiments like ketchup and certain salad dressings can be loaded with sodium and sugars. Making your own dressings with olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice can be a delicious and healthier alternative.

High-Sodium Snacks

Chips, pretzels, and other salty snacks can significantly up your sodium intake without you even realizing it. For a healthier snack option, reach for veggies with a low-sodium dip or a handful of unsalted nuts.

Dairy Products

While dairy can be a good source of calcium, many full-fat dairy products contain saturated fats that might affect your blood pressure. Switching to low-fat dairy can help manage your cholesterol levels without sacrificing calcium intake.

What Are Some Tips for Managing Your Blood Pressure?

Managing blood pressure effectively means making informed choices about your diet and lifestyle. Here are ten practical tips that can help support a healthy lifestyle, ensuring you maintain a healthy heart and a vibrant lifestyle.

Swap Energy Drinks for Green Tea

Start your day with a calming cup of green tea rather than reaching for another cup of coffee or an energy drink. 

Rich in antioxidants, green tea can help support overall wellness and cardiovascular health. For an enhanced experience, try our Heart Functional Tea — it's caffeine-free and packed with 10 natural ingredients designed for holistic benefits and flavor.

Check Your Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can help control blood pressure — even small amounts of weight loss can make a significant difference. To support a healthy body composition, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, alongside strength training sessions.

Sweeten Smartly

Avoid high-calorie sweeteners and opt for healthier alternatives. Our Organic Stevia Leaf Sweetener is a fantastic choice, adding flavor to your beverages without extra calories.

Eat Balanced Meals

Aim for a vibrant mix — citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, whole grains like oats, and lean proteins such as fish and chicken help ensure a balanced, heart-healthy diet.

“Don't forget dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, which are loaded with essential minerals like potassium and magnesium, known to contribute to healthy blood pressure regulation. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are another heart-healthy addition,” says Heidi Wright, Registered Nurse. 

Wright notes that for a balanced and filling base, it’s best to incorporate whole grains like oats into your diet. They provide sustained energy and fiber, which can help with overall health and potentially aid in weight management, another factor that can influence blood pressure. Lean proteins like fish and chicken offer essential nutrients without the saturated fat often found in red meat, making them a heart-smart choice. 

“By incorporating this variety of delicious and nutritious foods into your diet, you can create a foundation for healthy blood pressure and overall well-being,” notes Wright. 

Incorporate Turmeric

Known for its supportive properties to the body’s cardiovascular system, turmeric can be a great addition to your diet. Our Turmeric Complete Plus CoQ10 Capsules blend turmeric with other heart-healthy ingredients like CoQ10, berries, and roots, offering holistic support for your heart.

When to Seek Medical Advice

While adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can significantly help manage blood pressure, there are times when it's crucial to seek medical advice. 

If you're consistently recording high readings, experiencing symptoms like severe headaches, vision problems, or shortness of breath, or if you have a family history of heart disease, it’s important to consult a dietitian or healthcare professional. They can assess you for health conditions, suggest necessary lifestyle adjustments, or prescribe blood pressure medication to help manage your levels effectively.

The Bottom Line

At Herbaly, we understand that managing blood pressure is not just about avoiding certain foods; it's about creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle. From incorporating beneficial herbs and teas to choosing the right sweeteners, every small choice contributes to your heart health. 

Embark on your journey to a healthier heart with Herbaly. Explore our range of Functional Teas today and discover the perfect addition to your daily routine for supporting a balanced, vibrant lifestyle. 


What Is Blood Pressure? | Cleveland Clinic

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings | American Heart Association

High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes | cdc.gov

High blood pressure (hypertension) - Symptoms & causes | Mayo Clinic

Obesity - Causes | NHS

Fats, oils and heart health | Heart Foundation

The effect of nutrition on blood pressure | PMC

Salt and Water Retention | Action on Salt

FOLLOW US @Herbaly