Food to avoid with high blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a fairly common condition, affecting around a third of UK adults. High blood pressure in itself is pretty much unnoticeable, however on the inside, your organs are working particularly hard; with the extra strain on your blood vessels, such pressure can cause serious damage and stir up more health issues, such as the increased risk of heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, and vascular dementia.

Unfortunately for some, high blood pressure can be genetic. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of it becoming something more serious.

First things first, you can have your blood pressure measured for free at your local pharmacy by booking an appointment via Hey Pharmacist.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Below, we’ve listed some foods that you should either avoid or reduce if you have high blood pressure, or are at risk of high blood pressure.

Top 15 foods to avoid with high blood pressure


1. Saturated fats

We all know saturated fats are bad for us, on food packets, they sit right next to salt and sugar for what to check before making a purchase. Saturated fat itself is fat that’s usually solid at room temperature, meaning it increases the risk of high cholesterol and blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks. Saturated fats are everywhere unfortunately, however, they are particularly present in foods such as beef, lamb, and butter.

Only 5-6% of the average person’s calorie intake should consist of saturated fats. Being able to maintain this will have a positive effect on your blood pressure and overall health.

2. Processed meat

Processed meat is meat that has been preserved to last longer, including bacon, sausages, and canned meat such as corned beef. These foods often have high levels of salt to preserve their flavour. Consuming too much salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure, as salt interferes with your body’s fluid balance. It’s a good idea to try to cut back on processed meat as much as possible.

3. Red meat

Although red meat may seem like a healthy alternative to processed meats such as bacon or sausages, some studies have shown that it has a direct link to high blood pressure. Like processed meats, red meat is also often high in salt and saturated fats. Limiting red meat and choosing lean cuts is a good idea if you have high blood pressure.

4. Frozen meals

Ready meals are incredibly useful when day-to-day life can get hectic, and the last thing on your mind is what to cook for dinner. However, like processed meat, even the seemingly healthiest of ready meals often contain high amounts of sodium to preserve flavour, which affects your blood pressure.

Red meat

5. Crisps and salty snacks

There’s a definite theme here with salty foods and high blood pressure. Salty snacks such as crisps and crackers are not the best idea if you’re looking to lower your blood pressure. Not only do snacks such as these contain high amounts of sodium and fat, but they’re also very moreish, meaning it’s difficult to stop eating them once you start.

6. Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks are incredibly popular, however, they are also incredibly high in sugar. Your body only needs small amounts of sugar, namely glucose, to survive, which it can get from carbohydrates. So anything, in addition, is excess and unnatural sugars. The occasional sugary drink should be fine as a treat, however, regularly consuming such high amounts of sugar will raise your blood pressure.

7. Bread

Bread, especially white, is very high in salt, which we know very well by now is not the kindest to our blood pressure. Like ready meals, bread is a very convenient food, but unfortunately, that comes with a price. Making simple changes like going from white to whole grain, brown, or even 50/50, can make a big difference.

8. Canned tomato products

As delicious as they are, most pasta sauces are high in sodium. Luckily, there are lots of alternatives out there that a much lower in salt. Choosing tinned chopped tomatoes or simply reduced salt versions is a great way to keep your blood pressure low whilst keeping your meals delicious.


9. Soup

Soup, so warm, so cosy, so full of flavour, where does that flavour come from? Salt. We don’t need to explain again how salt affects your blood pressure. Luckily, some soups offer a low-salt version. Or, if you’re feeling creative, make your own soup, that way you are in control of how much salt is added to your meal.

10. Cheese

Cheese and general dairy products such as cream and milk, particularly the full-fat kind, are full of saturated fats. However, cheese is also a high source of protein and calcium, so eating cheese in healthy amounts has great benefits on your bones and muscles, without negatively affecting your blood and heart.

11. Pizza

No explanation is needed as to why pizza is bad for your blood pressure. Pretty much everything that goes into making a classic pizza is included in this list as food that increases the risk of hypertension, so combining them all as pizza isn’t the greatest idea. Of course, a pizza now and then is fine, but make sure it stays as a tasty treat, not a weekly regular!


12. Caffeine

Caffeine has become somewhat of a necessity for many people in the morning, who crave their wake-up coffee, or midday energy drink to keep them going through the afternoon. However, if you get too reliant on caffeine, it can affect your blood pressure. According to the NHS, drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure.

There is one drink in particular that gives you enough energy if you drink enough of it. What is that drink? Water.

13. Alcohol

Drinking excessive alcohol has no end of risks to our health, including an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Many alcoholic drinks are also high in sugar and empty calories which adds to the risks, including obesity. The occasional pint is fairly harmless to the average person, but make sure you watch your average daily intake. Speak to your pharmacist if your finding cutting back on alcohol a challenge.


14. Pickles

Another salty one, pickles and pickled food, in general, can have an impact on your blood pressure. Looking for low-sodium options is a sensible idea if you have high blood pressure. Pickled foods are good for digestion and your general gut health. So like cheese, it isn’t something you should consider cutting out completely, just eat in moderation.

15. Condiments

Condiments such as ketchup, soy sauce, and salad dressing are used to add extra flavour to our meals, where do a lot of these condiments get their flavour from? You guessed it, salt. Some condiments, such as ketchup, can also contain a lot of sugar, so make sure you check the labels. Like soups, there are often low-salt alternatives, so keep an eye out for them!


Although not part of your diet, another way to lower your risk of high blood pressure is to quit smoking. Learn how to stop smoking, or visit your pharmacist to learn more about stop-smoking services.

If you are worried about your blood pressure, book a free appointment with your local pharmacy via Hey Pharmacist today!