Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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Having high blood pressure raises your risk of multiple health conditions. Although it often appears symptomless, if left untreated it could become dangerous due to the extra strain it puts on your organs including the heart and brain. One way to prevent high blood pressure is following a healthy diet that avoids some of the triggers of hypertension.
It is widely known that salt is one of the culprits when it comes to high blood pressure.
This is because sodium makes your body hold onto extra water.
The water then puts pressure on blood vessel walls.
If a food is processed it is also likely to have higher amounts of sodium, making it a risk factor for hypertension.
According to health coach and nutritionist Kendra Haire, from Noom, cheese and crackers are two foods that could be to blame for high blood pressure.
This is because they both contain sodium.
She explained: “Salty foods and foods that are more processed have higher amounts of sodium, which causes the body to retain fluid, putting greater pressure on blood vessels.
“This causes your blood pressure to rise. A lot of processed snacks, sauces and even some breads contain higher amounts of sodium, so label-reading is important if you are looking to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
“Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol (more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) can also raise your blood pressure.
“Although all foods can be included as part of a healthy diet, these specific foods tend to include higher sodium levels, and as a result can contribute to increased blood pressure.”
She warned against eating the following foods in excess:
- Highly processed crackers
- Highly processed crisps
- Sauces and condiments
- Fried foods that are seasoned with salt
- Canned soups (look for lower sodium varieties)
- Frozen meals
- Alcoholic beverages.
Foods and drinks that can lower blood pressure
She commented: “Foods that are less processed tend to be naturally lower in sodium, and therefore do not cause as much fluid retention in the body.
“Eating a variety of foods that are high in fibre and lower in saturated fat, as well as lean proteins also help to lower blood pressure.
“These foods support a healthy body weight, which is another important factor when it comes to blood pressure and overall heart health. It is also important to include foods that are higher in potassium, which plays a role in excreting excess sodium from the body.
“Staying well-hydrated with plenty of water, unsweetened beverages and water-containing fruits and vegetables can also lead to lower blood pressure.”
She recommended eating plenty of the following to lower blood pressure:
- Leafy greens
- Beans/pulses and legumes
- Grilled, broiled or baked chicken (without added breading or sauces)
- Broiled or grilled fish or shellfish
- Whole grains, including brown rice, oats, barely, quinoa.
She added: “It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
“High blood pressure often has no obvious symptoms, but if left untreated, over time, it can lead to more serious health concerns such as heart disease and stroke.”
High blood pressure is accepted to be from 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or 150/90mmHg if you’re over the age of 80.
Healthy blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg – or below 150/90mmHg for over 80s.
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