Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels) which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is above the normal range. In most cases, no one knows what causes high blood pressure. What you eat can affect your blood pressure.
Unsalted seeds (pumpkin, squash, sunflower) and unsalted nuts are mineral-rich foods that lower blood pressure.
Salt is mostly sodium, a mineral that occurs naturally in foods. Sodium is the substance that may cause your blood pressure to increase. Other forms of sodium are also present in food. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is another example of a sodium added to food (common in Chinese food).
When you eat too much salt, which contains sodium, your body holds extra water to “wash” the salt from your body. In some people, this may cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake no more than 1,500 milligrams. (A teaspoon of salt has about 2,400 milligrams of sodium.) Most people greatly exceed these sodium guidelines.
Food: Milligrams (mg.) sodium
Fresh meat, 85 g (3 oz.) cooked: Less than 90 mg
Shellfish, 85 g (3 oz.): 100 to 325 mg
Tuna, canned, 85 g (3 oz.): 300 mg
Lean ham, 85 g (3 oz.).: 1,025 mg
Food: Milligrams sodium
*Whole milk, 240 ml (1 cup): 120 mg
Skim or 1% milk, 240 ml (1 cup): 125 mg
*Buttermilk (salt added), 240 ml (1 cup): 260 mg
*Swiss cheese, 28 g (1 oz): 75 mg
*Cheddar cheese, 28 g (1 oz): 175 mg
Low-fat cheese, 28 g (1 oz): 150 mg
*Cottage cheese (regular), 120 ml (1/2 cup): 455 mg
Fresh or frozen vegetables, and no-salt-added canned (cooked without salt), 120 ml (1/2 cup): Less than 70 mg
Vegetables canned or frozen (without sauce), 120 ml (1/2 cup): 55-470 mg
Tomato juice, canned, 360 ml (3/4 cup): 660 mg
Bread, 1 slice: 110-175 mg
English muffin (half): 130 mg
Ready-to-eat, shredded wheat, 360 ml (3/4 cup): Less than 5 mg
Cooked cereal (unsalted), 120 ml (1/2 cup): Less than 5 mg
Instant cooked cereal, 1 packet: 180 mg
Canned soups, 240 ml (1 cup): 600-1,300 mg
Canned and frozen main dishes, 227 g (8 oz): 500-1,570 mg
*These can also be high in saturated fat, unless low-fat or reduced-fat options are purchased.
*High in saturated fat
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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