Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, is fairly common in the UK with around a third of all adults affected. However, many will not be aware of this fact as it often doesn’t present symptoms in its early stages. If left untreated it can lead to serious medical issues such as heart disease and strokes.
This is because having high blood pressure puts extra strain on the organs such as the blood vessels, heart and even brain.
Like many conditions, one cause of high blood pressure is diet.
Specifically, eating too much salt is a major culprit.
But in the same way that diet can cause hypertension, it can also help tackle it.
Registered nutritionist consultant for Nutrigums, Shona Wilkinson, explained: “There are various unhealthy lifestyle aspects that can have an impact on blood pressure such as; drinking too much alcohol or caffeine-based drinks, being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, eating too much salt and not enough fruits and vegetables.
“There are several ways to reduce high blood pressure without medication, for example eating foods that contain potassium, magnesium and B vitamins will contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.”
She recommended eating bananas as a way to lower your blood pressure reading.
“Bananas are not only nutritious, but they are rich in potassium and are packed with fibre – something that lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease,” she said.
“Potassium is a key blood-pressure-lowering mineral and helps to balance the amount of sodium in the body.
“Not only will a banana a day give you an energy boost, but it will help to maintain normal heart function.
“Potassium also helps your body to maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells and aids in muscle and heart contractions, which keeps blood pumping around the body to vital organs.”
What does the research say?
This was backed by a study published in the European Heart Journal this year.
As part of the research, the team analysed data on more than 24,000 people.
Participants completed a questionnaire on their lifestyle habits and then their blood pressure was measured, and a urine sample was collected.
Urinary sodium and potassium were used to estimate dietary intake.
It found that among the women there was a link between potassium consumption and blood pressure in women – as intake went up, blood pressure went down, however, among the men this link was not made.
The study said: “The data suggest that women with a high sodium intake in particular benefit most from a higher potassium intake with regard to systolic blood pressure.”
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers: the systolic pressure (the higher number) and diastolic pressure (lower).
Systolic pressure is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body and the diastolic pressure is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80).
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