Avoid Eating Peanut Butter With Crackers If You Have This Medical Condition (Or Make This Simple Swap)

A late-day snack beats a late-day coffee to help balance your energy levels until it's time for dinner. Kudos to you if you have some healthy snacks stashed in your desk, but sometimes your hunger pangs might come unexpectedly. A tougher morning workout might have you craving a little more food later in the day, or perhaps that healthy salad wasn't as filling as you had hoped.

Vending machines don't always offer the healthiest options. Although these quick snacks might be tempting when you're famished, many of them are high in sugar and other processed ingredients. Peanut butter and crackers can be a good snack, but people with high blood pressure should steer clear of the packaged brands. The American Heart Association recommends cutting back your daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams a day. Some packaged peanut butter and crackers are loaded with more than 400 milligrams of sodium, which will put you at 26% of your daily limit.

How sodium raises high blood pressure

When you take in sodium, your body pulls water into your bloodstream and increases the volume of blood in your system. This puts more pressure on your arteries. Sodium also causes your blood vessels to constrict, which puts added pressure on your blood vessels.

A package of Keebler Cheese and Peanut Butter sandwich crackers has 250 calories and 430 milligrams of sodium. Lance's Toasty sandwich crackers have 240 milligrams of sodium, and Ritz's peanut butter and crackers come in at 300 milligrams. If you eat any of these packaged peanut butter and crackers, your body will react to this high amount of sodium within 30 minutes.

The American Heart Association says you can see a reduction in your blood pressure in a few days if you make significant cuts in the sodium in your diet. Rather than reach for the packaged peanut butter and crackers, make a trip to the grocery store to find sodium-free peanut butter and low-sodium crackers. A tablespoon of Smucker's Natural peanut butter has zero sodium (it's just peanuts) and 5 Ritz Hint of Salt crackers has only 30 milligrams of sodium.

Low-sodium swaps for high blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you'll want to stay away from many of the ultra-processed snacks found in the vending machine. According to a 2022 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Hypertension, eating more ultra-processed foods increases your risk of high blood pressure by 23%. Pretzels, potato chips, and crackers are typically high in sodium, but swapping apples for crackers can reduce your sodium and provide fiber to help keep you full.

The University of Virginia Medical Center suggests keeping your daily sodium low by limiting the sodium in your snacks to 160 milligrams. Each meal should have 600 milligrams of sodium or less. That means bypassing the salt shaker since a single teaspoon of salt puts 2,300 milligrams of sodium in your blood vessels. Consider adding nutritional yeast to unsalted popcorn for flavor, and herbs and spices can flavor other snacks without the sodium. Making your own trail mix using unsalted nuts and seeds can also keep your sodium and high blood pressure down.