4. Pretzels

Pretzels

One look at those salt-encrusted pretzels and you know you’re not doing your heart any favors. A 1-ounce serving of pretzel twists contains around 300 mg of sodium, while a medium soft pretzel can contain as much as 1000 mg of sodium. If you love the crunch of pretzel sticks or can’t resist the warm chewiness of a soft pretzel, look for salt-free versions. Dress them up by dipping them in flavorful dips such as hummus or nut butter.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol in excess of one to two drinks per day can lead to high blood pressure as well. Your blood pressure can be raised temporarily when your blood vessels dilate in reaction to the alcohol. This effect dissipates as the alcohol is metabolized by your body. However, in the long term, drinking can raise your blood pressure by elevating the amount of fat in your bloodstream. As your arteries become clogged with fat, they harden, leading to increased blood pressure and heart disease. The calories and sugars in alcoholic drinks also can contribute to obesity, another risk factor for hypertension.

2. Chinese Food

Chinese Food

Chinese food, or rather, Chinese food the way it is prepared in the United States, is another food that is high in sodium. Six ounces of kung pao chicken can contain nearly 1000 mg of sodium. Add soy sauce to the dish and the sodium content is even higher. Avoid ordering takeout and prepare simple yet nutritious foods at home. The American Heart Association offers a delicious recipe for Broccoli Beef Stir Fry that is low in sodium but high in flavor.

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