Healthy

Avoid This Lunchtime Favorite if You’re Trying to Lower Your Blood Pressure

But there are some heart-healthy options!

If you have high blood pressure, you’re probably aware that your diet and lifestyle can affect your numbers. There are so many foods that we’re told to avoid, as well as ones that we’re told to favor when it comes to keeping our hearts healthy. And while fatty fish like tuna is often touted as a heart-healthy option, canned varieties might pose a potential risk.

Canned Tuna and Blood Pressure

Buying canned tuna is one of the cheapest ways to eat healthy, as far as many experts are concerned. That’s because it’s a great source of protein as well as healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which have shown time and time again to facilitate good heart health and protect us from disease.

There are a few risk factors when it comes to canned tuna and blood pressure, though — and one of them is sodium. Most varieties of canned tuna contain added salt for preserving. In fact, just a single serving of canned tuna can contain between 200 and 300 milligrams of sodium. This may not seem like a lot, but the American Heart Association suggests that those with high blood pressure may benefit greatly by limiting their sodium intake to around 1,000 mg per day. Considering that many of us eat our canned tuna with other ingredients (i.e. mayo in tuna salad), the sodium can really add up!

Another reason for avoiding canned tuna if you have high blood pressure is BPA, or Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that is used to make different types of food containers, including the cans that our fish is packed in. BPA contamination in foods has shown to cause a slew of health problems, including elevating blood pressure. BPA can also cause hormone issues (particularly for women), infertility, birth defects, and it’s even been found to raise your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

If all of this seems like a real bummer, don’t worry — there’s good news. Food manufacturers are becoming more aware of the effects of preserving foods with excess salt, and you can probably find a no-salt-added version of canned tuna in your local grocery store.

Just as well, the FDA has cracked down on the use of BPA in food container production, and many health-conscious brands will offer their canned products in BPA-free packaging. For example, Trader Joes and Wild Planet both make canned tuna with no added salt that comes in BPA-free cans.

So there you have it. Many canned tuna options at the grocery store should probably be skipped over if you have high blood pressure, but you can still enjoy your favorite fish by opting for versions with no added salt packed in BPA-free cans. Here’s to making conscious, heart-healthy choices!

This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.

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