Beat High Blood Pressure

Beat High Blood Pressure

By Dietitian, Lyndel Costain BSc RD

Did you know that 1 in 3 women and 2 in 5 men in the UK have high blood pressure (known as ‘hypertension’)? And that being overweight is a key risk factor? The sort of diet you eat can also influence your blood pressure – and if you combine the right combination of foods in your weight loss plan you could double up on blood pressure benefits.

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that weight loss diets richer in fruit, vegetables and low fat dairy products seemed to lower blood pressure more effectively than simple low fat weight loss diets.

The fruit and veg dieters were advised to eat at least 8 portions of fruit and vegetables and 3 servings of low fat dairy foods daily, and include fish, beans and some nuts each week. The low fat dieters were advised to cut right back on fat, limit high calorie foods and drinks, eat plenty of fruit and veg and choose lean meats and low fat dairy foods.

After 12 weeks both groups lost about 11 pounds in weight. And both diets were lower in salt compared to usual intakes. But the fruit and veg group had a bigger drop in their blood pressure – and they really did end up eating significantly more fruit, veg and low fat dairy foods each day. The researchers believe that these additional benefits came from the fruit and veg diet being higher in potassium, magnesium and calcium – all nutrients that have been linked to blood pressure benefits.

WLR says

High blood pressure is bad news for your health. If left unchecked, it can lead to stroke, heart attack, and damage to the kidneys and eyes. The big problem is that most people with high blood pressure don’t have any symptoms so don’t realise they have it.

Ideally, all adults should their blood pressure checked and this should be more regular if high blood pressure runs in your family, or for example, if you are very overweight or have diabetes.

The best way to prevent or manage high blood pressure is to not smoke, be a healthier weight, take regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, moderate alcohol intake and learn to manage stress.

If you have any concerns about your blood pressure then do visit your doctor for a blood pressure check. Many local pharmacists offer this service now too.

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