High blood pressure diet: The swap you can make this New Year to reduce hypertension risk

Phillip Schofield gets blood pressure checked in Istanbul in 1991

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When the New Year comes many people commit to making healthy diet changes. For people with high blood pressure, even the smallest of changes can make a huge difference to health.

According to the NHS, one of the leading causes of high blood pressure, or hypertension, is dietary choices.

The NHS states: “Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it.”

The health authority adds: “Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.”

Among the foods that can raise blood pressure is red meat or meats which have a high salt content.

Processed deli meats and lunch meats are among those which are considered to be high in sodium.

Often, this is because manufacturers may choose to cure and season meats using lots of salt.

That is why switching to a vegetarian diet could be beneficial for those with hypertension.

According to Harvard Health: “People who follow a vegetarian diet tend to have a lower blood pressure than their meat-eating counterparts, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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“Vegetarians avoid meat and eat mainly plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes (beans and peas).”

A study by Newstart Lifestyle found that people who opted for a vegan diet could reduce high blood pressure to “healthy levels” in just “two weeks”.

The study observed 117 patients who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

They underwent two weeks of lifestyle intervention, including a diet rich in whole-food, plant-based items.

The study’s participants also ensured to sleep adequately, drink sufficient water, and exercise regularly.

In 14 days, half of the people involved in the trial reduced their blood pressure to the regular level without medication.

What are risk factors for high blood pressure?

Among the causes of hypertension listed by the NHS are:

  • Being overweight
  • Eating too much salt

  • Not eating enough fruit and vegetables
  • Not exercising enough
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Drinking too much caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Being over the age of 65
  • Having hereditary high blood pressure
  • Being of black African or black Caribbean descent
  • Living in a deprived area

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