High blood pressure: NHS doctor explains causes
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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke as well as kidney and eye damage. You’re more likely to have high blood pressure as you age because blood vessels don’t stretch as well the older you get. While we can’t stop the ageing process, there are lots of lifestyle changes we can make to keep our blood pressure in check. Your diet is the first place to start if you want to reduce your blood pressure. Express.co.uk reveals the four things to eat to treat hypertension.
If you have high blood pressure, it’s not too late to reduce it.
Even a small drop in your reading can help lower your risk of dangerous conditions such as heart disease, stroke or kidney disease.
Being overweight and eating a poor diet are massive risk factors for hypertension, so it’s important to make sure you are eating well enough to keep your reading at a healthy level.
First of all, there are a few things you need to cut back on if you want to reduce your blood pressure.
Salt is one of the biggest culprits for hypertension, as people who have a lot of salt in their diet are more likely to have high blood pressure.
The Association of the UK Dietitians (BDA) explained: “Most people eat far more salt than they need so we should all be aiming to reduce the amount of salt (or sodium chloride) we eat.
“Adults should have no more than six grams of salt a day – that’s about one teaspoon.
“It is the sodium in salt that contributes to high blood pressure and it is present in all types of salt including sea salt, flakes, crystals and flavoured salt.”
Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can also cause high blood pressure and damage to your heart muscle, so stick within the UK guidelines.
This means alcohol should be limited to no more than 14 units per week for men and women.
The BDA advises against ‘saving up your units’ because it’s best to spread alcohol evenly across the week if you’re going to drink it.
Sometimes it’s easier to think about adding things into your diet rather than cutting things out.
Studies have shown eating a balanced diet that includes foods high in potassium, magnesium calcium and fibre helps to lower blood pressure, so work out how you can fit more of these things into your meals.
It’s much better to get these vitamins and minerals through your diet rather than a supplement.
The BDA warns: “Supplements are not recommended for reducing blood pressure, as consuming more than you need can be harmful.
“Talk to your doctor if you are thinking about taking a supplement.”
Express.co.uk reveals the four things to incorporate into your diet to reduce hypertension, according to the BDA.
Fruit and veg
Fruit and vegetables are rich in potassium, magnesium and fibre.
The BDA advises everyone to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
Fresh, frozen, dried, juiced and canned all coun, but look for those lower in salt and sugar if you are using canned varieties.
Dairy foods are good sources of calcium, which is a key ingredient for a healthy diet.
However, some can be high in saturated fat, so opt for lower-fat versions such as semi-skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurts and low-fat cheese.
The BDA recommends including two to three servings of calcium per day.
Wholegrain foods such as wholegrain breakfast cereals and bread, brown pasta and rice and oats are high in fibre, potassium and magnesium.
You should aim for two to three servings of these per day.
Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have some effect on reducing blood pressure.
Examples include salmon, pilchards, sardines, mackerel, herring and trout.
Try to aim for at least one portion of these dark fleshed fish per week.
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