High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure is the result of arteries narrowing – a process that’s caused by poor lifestyle decisions. This causes the heart to have to work harder to pump blood around the body, thereby raising your blood pressure. While this may seem harmless, consistently high blood pressure hikes your risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, you can thwart this harmful process by making healthy lifestyle changes.
Certain dietary decisions have been shown to boast anti-hypertensive capabilities.
One of the most promising dietary items for counteracting high blood pressure is beetroot juice.
Multiple studies have linked the consumption of beetroot juice to reductions in high blood pressure and a subsequent reduced risk of cardiovascular events.
The consumption of beetroot juice on a low nitrate diet may lower blood pressure but it was previously unknown whether its inclusion as part of a normal diet has a similar effect on blood pressure.
Researchers in a study published in the Nutrition Journal sought to plug this gap in knowledge.
To that end, they conducted a randomised controlled trial to investigate if consuming beetroot juice in addition to a normal diet produces a measurable reduction in blood pressure.
Fifteen women and fifteen men participated in a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover study.
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Volunteers were randomised to receive 500 g of beetroot and apple juice or a placebo juice.
Volunteers had blood pressure measured at the beginning of the study and at least hourly for 24 hours following juice consumption using an ambulatory blood pressure monitor (ABPM).
Volunteers remained at the clinic for one hour before resuming normal non-strenuous daily activities.
The identical procedure was repeated two weeks later with the drinks not consumed on the first visit.
Overall, there was a trend to lower systolic blood pressure at “six hours” after drinking beetroot juice relative to placebo, the researchers wrote.
“Analysis in men only after adjustment for baseline differences demonstrated a significant reduction in SBP of 4–5 mmHg at six hours after drinking BJ.”
Systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body. It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
High blood pressure – general dietary tips
Cutting down on the amount of salt in your food and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables can lower high blood pressure.
“Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure,” warns the NHS.
According to the NHS, you should aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful.
“Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.”
According to the health body, you should aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
It adds: “If you do need to lose some weight, it’s worth remembering that just losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health.”
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