Ah, the incredible, edible egg — but what if you have hypertension (aka high blood pressure)? Diet has a direct impact on heart health and blood pressure, so you may be wondering how often the breakfast staple should be on your menu — if at all. Here's what to know about eggs and blood pressure.
Are Eggs Eggs-cellent for BP?
If you have high blood pressure, eating eggs may cause a moment of pause because, for years, they were thought to lead to high blood cholesterol. And, like blood pressure, cholesterol is indicative of heart health, says the Mayo Clinic.
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But experts now concur that including eggs in your diet doesn't necessarily lead to significant changes in your cholesterol count. "For most people, cholesterol consumed via eggs doesn't translate to higher levels of cholesterol in your blood," says Portland, Oregon-based dietitian Ansley Hill, RDN, LD. "Instead, the amount of fiber and the types of fats you consume are more likely to influence your cholesterol levels."
So how does that connect to the potential harmful effects of eggs on your BP? The news so far is favorable if you're an egg fan.
A February 2020 study in Current Hypertension Reports assessing 15 randomized controlled trials with 748 participants who consumed about one to three eggs per day concluded that egg consumption had no significant impact on systolic (upper number) or diastolic (lower number) blood pressure, although researchers point out that longer trials are needed to confirm the results.
Breakfast for High Blood Pressure
If you have hypertension, "eggs are a great option for breakfast," Hill says, "because, not only do they provide a source of high-quality protein, they're an excellent vehicle for getting a full serving of veggies in at breakfast."
In fact, a large November 2018 study in Heart of a half-million Chinese adults found that consuming an egg daily was associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as well as hypertension, compared to those who didn't consume an egg each day.
If you're looking for other hypertension-friendly options for breakfast, Hill offers some suggestions: "Oatmeal is a classic heart-healthy breakfast because it contains a lot of fiber and a unique type of antioxidant that may have a blood pressure-lowering effect."
Adds Hill, "Greek yogurt is a great source of potassium and calcium — two minerals that are known to have a favorable effect on blood pressure."
Bonus tip: Skip the salt. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), eating lower-sodium foods can actually help lower your BP — or even prevent hypertension from developing.
Foods to Avoid
While eggs can be part of a heart-healthy diet, there are other items you'd do well to avoid to help control high blood pressure.
If you like to supplement that morning egg with a cup of joe, take heed. "Drinking coffee can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure for up to a few hours — especially if you don't drink it often," Hill says.
But, "if you already have a coffee habit, she adds, "you most likely don't need to stop drinking it to manage your blood pressure. That said, if you don't already drink it routinely, it's not a habit you should pick up until your blood pressure is well controlled. Instead, caffeine-free beverages like herbal tea might be a better choice."
As for foods to keep off the menu, the Cleveland Clinic suggests avoiding fatty and/or high-sodium foods like:
- Regular salad dressings.
- Fatty meats.
- Salted snacks.
- Whole milk dairy.
- Fried foods.
- Fast foods.
- Deli meats.
And because high-sodium foods have been associated with increases in BP, the AHA recommends you should avoid adding salt when you're cooking, and steer clear of full-sodium versions of nuts, canned goods, broths, soups, sauces and restaurant-menu items.
It's important to note, too, that you may see your blood pressure rise as the day goes on, regardless of what you eat. According to the Mayo Clinic, BP begins to rise before you get up in the morning, then continues its ascent until midafternoon. If you have concerns about increasing blood pressure throughout the day, consult your physician.
- Mayo Clinic: “High Cholesterol”
- Ansley Hill, RDN, LD, dietitian, Portland, Oregon
- Current Hypertension Reports: “Effect of Egg Consumption on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials”
- Heart: “Associations of Egg Consumption With Cardiovascular Disease in a Cohort Study of 0.5 Million Chinese Adults”
- American Heart Association: “Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Hypertension and Nutrition”
- Mayo Clinic: “Blood Pressure: Does It Have a Daily Pattern?”
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.