High-Sodium Foods and Drinks You Need to Avoid if You Have High Blood Pressure

If you’re like most Americans, there’s a good chance there’s way more sodium in your diet than you realize. And this is particularly bad news if you’re one of the millions with high blood pressure. The American Heart Association notes¬†ideally, you should only be eating 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day with an upward limit of 2,300 milligrams. And if you’re really looking to lower your blood pressure, you may even want to limit yourself to just 1,000 milligrams.

Wondering what foods you should cut out of your diet to make this possible? Here are the high-sodium foods and drinks that may be lurking in your cabinets.

Deli meats

Cajun Muffaletta Sandwich with Meat and Cheese

A sandwich with deli meat | bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

The first step in lowering your sodium is stepping away from the deli counter. You may be surprised to know that just three slices of deli turkey breast can equal up to 1,050 milligrams of sodium, Men’s Journal says. You’re well advised to cook your own chicken or turkey breast and slice it yourself so you can control exactly how much salt you’re eating. Alternatively, look for low-sodium deli meats that contain less than 500 milligrams per serving.

Canned soup

Sodium in canned soup is important for preserving the ingredients, and it also brings out the delicious and herbaceous flavors. Check your favorite soup’s label, though, as some cans of soup can contain anywhere from 800 to 1,000 milligrams of sodium, says Health. Campbell’s varieties of soups seem to be particularly offensive.


You may use buttermilk fairly often for baking purposes, but you probably never suspected this ingredient to be a salt bomb. One cup of buttermilk contains around 250 milligrams of sodium. Make sure you’re choosing a low-sodium variety, or skip the buttermilk altogether and go for skim milk instead to cut that sodium in half.

Cheese and cheese sauces

mac and cheese

Mac and cheese | IgorDutina/iStock/Getty Images

Not only is the saturated fat in cheese bad for your heart, but the sodium isn’t doing your blood pressure any favors, either, making this a particularly bad pick. Women’s Health notes the saltiest cheeses are imported blue, feta, halloumi, string or processed cheeses, and Edam — but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear if you prefer plain cheddar (one slice has over 170 milligrams). If you really need a cheese fix, Swiss, Monterey Jack, ricotta, and Parmesan are better options.

Canned veggies and veggie juice

You know you should be adding more veggies in your diet, but if you’re choosing canned varieties, get ready for a sodium shocker. One can of green beans contains nearly 500 milligrams of sodium, and one can of peas contains even more at over 600 milligrams.

When it comes to veggie juice, that’s not any better. Men’s Journal notes one 8-ounce glass can contain over 400 milligrams of sodium. You’re way better off just eating fresh veggies or juicing them yourself.

Olives and pickled foods

They may be delicious and part of a healthful Mediterranean diet, but that doesn’t mean everyone should eat olives. SFGate notes just a 1/2-cup serving of black olives is over 700 milligrams of sodium.

And while pickled foods are having their moment in the spotlight for health food fanatics, they’re another one to watch. Healthline says just 1 cup of chopped pickles typically has over 1,200 milligrams of sodium. While fermented foods are proven to be good for your gut, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of eating them.

Breakfast cereal

Bowl of cereal coffee mug

Woman eating breakfast cereal | iStock.com/warrengoldswain

Breakfast cereals are particularly insidious because you’d never expect them to contain as much sodium as they do. Men’s Journal shows just 1 cup of Raisin Bran contains 250 milligrams of sodium — and that’s not the only one you need to watch out for. If you eat a lot of warm breakfast cereals like Quaker Instant Grits, you’ll want to stay away from those, too.

Certain breads

Like cereal, bread may be another huge source of sodium in your diet. Everyday Health finds just one 6-inch flour tortilla can contain over 200 milligrams of sodium — and that’s without any other salty meats or cheeses you’re planning on adding to it. Additionally, any breads or bagels with salty toppings are bad news, too.

And if you truly do love tortillas, go for corn. They contain just 11 milligrams of sodium per 6-inch round.

Sports drinks

Unless you’re going through some truly grueling workouts, skip the sports drinks. These beverages contain electrolytes (mostly sodium) to fuel you through even the toughest exercises, so unless you’re playing an intense sport, there’s really no need. Otherwise, you’ll be ingesting nearly 100 milligrams of sodium per cup that you could do without.

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