Watch out for these high sodium foods

For those with high blood pressure, controlling your sodium intake is important. Why? Too much sodium is known to elevate blood pressure. It encourages your body to retain fluid, which increases the volume of fluid in your blood, leading to more strain on your blood vessels, which causes raised blood pressure. 

Sirisha Vadali, MD, a cardiologist and an independent member of the HonorHealth Medical Staff, explains what foods you to watch out for – and some of them may surprise you!

Where sodium is hiding in your diet

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that high levels of sodium are found in pretty much any type of fast food, such as burgers, pizzas, fries, taco and so on. Maybe you’ve even already cut these types of foods from your diet in an effort to control your blood pressure. But what about other places you might not expect?

Here are five food sources that contain high sodium:

  1. Cold cuts and cured meats. These meats are one of the top contributors of sodium in the U.S. diet. “Even if you have a sandwich on bread that is high in whole grains, the cold cut itself will raise your blood pressure because of how much sodium is packed into each meat particle,” says Dr. Vadali.
  2. Canned soups, peanut butter and any processed foods. Sodium is added to these types of food to make it shelf-stable. This means any type of processed food is going to have more sodium, even if they are considered “low-sodium” on the label.
  3. Granola and nutrition bars. Many people assume that bars are healthy as a breakfast option or something to snack on. But that isn’t the case. “Many of the granola and nutrition bars on the market are high in sugar,” explains Dr. Vadali. “When you’re eating a lot of sugary, processed foods, the fructose actually increases your salt absorption.”
  4. Soy sauce. Did you know, on average, regular soy sauce contains around 1,000 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon? With a recommended limit of 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, a relatively small amount of soy sauce can put you over the limit quickly.
  5. Red meats. All red meats, including bacon, pork, beef, lamb, veal and venison, have sodium packed in each bite.

Heart-healthy replacements

So, now you know what you should watch out for when it comes to avoiding sodium to lower your blood pressure. But what are some better alternatives?

Try eating more fresh, non-processed foods like vegetables and fruits. Focus on high-fiber options such as avocados, apples, broccoli and leafy greens. Fiber has the added benefit of helping you stay full longer. Nuts can also be a healthy snack.

Love soy sauce on various foods? Try coconut aminos instead – it tastes like soy sauce but contains less sodium.

For red meat, you could substitute lentils, fish, tofu or leaner proteins like chicken or lean turkey. “You also don’t have to cut out red meat completely,” adds Dr Vadali. “But I would recommend limiting your portion to about a fistful of meat per serving and also limit your intake to once or twice a week. This strategy can help lower your blood pressure.”

Foods with sodium

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