General Health Wednesday September 18, 2013

Eat Right to Beat High Blood Pressure

Almost every week there is a news headline telling us what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating to control our blood pressure. For example, recently there was a news story announcing that beetroot bread can lower blood pressure. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure (‘hypertension’) or just want to keep yours under control, here are some food dos and don’ts for you to keep in mind.

Foods to Avoid

Salt causes your body to retain water, which in turn raises your blood pressure. This is because salt affects your kidneys, reducing their ability to filter excess fluid out of your blood. The extra fluid builds up in your bloodstream and puts a strain on your kidneys, arteries and heart.

Salt

Many foods we eat already contain salt; therefore to reduce your salt intake you not only need to avoid adding it to food but also reduce your consumption of high-salt foods such as bread, cereal and smoked meat. Ready meals and takeaways are also often high in salt. If you eat out in a restaurant, ask if your meal can be made with reduced salt.

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time, as well as potentially causing you to gain weight, which in itself is another cause of hypertension. Aim to keep to the recommended limits for alcohol consumption; 21 units a week for men and 14 for women, with daily guidelines of 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women.

Saturated Fat

Eating foods that are high in saturated fat can also contribute to hypertension. This includes butter, cheese, cakes and some meat such as meatballs and burgers. If you eat a lot of these foods you may also become overweight, which has a negative effect on your blood pressure. Try to limit the amount of saturated fat in your diet, and instead opt for food containing ‘good’ unsaturated fat such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and olive oils.

Caffeine

You should avoid consuming too much caffeine if you have high blood pressure as studies have shown that drinking more than four cups of coffee a day or an excessive amount of caffeinated soft drinks may contribute to hypertension. However, as long as you limit your caffeine intake and make sure to drink plenty of additional fluids throughout the day then you shouldn’t experience any problems.

Foods to Enjoy

Bananas

Bananas and some other fruits and vegetables contain potassium, which can help to lower your blood pressure by counteracting the negatives effects of salt. The process by which your kidneys filter the blood uses a balance of salt and potassium. Consuming too much sodium upsets this balance, and potassium can restore it. However this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to eat as much salt as you want and then follow up with a bunch of bananas.

Yoghurt

Eating low fat yoghurt or dairy products may also be helpful for controlling hypertension. This is because calcium can keep blood vessels supple, enabling them to expand slightly and bring high blood pressure down.

Wholegrains

Some studies have suggested that eating wholegrains such as brown bread and cereals can help with high blood pressure. Like fruit and vegetables, wholegrain foods contain potassium. Wholegrains also keep you feeling fuller for longer, which helps with weight management.

Chocolate

Finally some good news, dark chocolate has also been advocated as a blood-pressure-lowering food. Although the connection between dark chocolate and blood pressure has not yet been fully investigated, it is thought that the antioxidants in the chocolate help to improve overall heart health and therefore lower blood pressure. However, it is important not to overdo your chocolate consumption as too much can lead to weight gain and additional health issues.

If you are concerned that you might have high blood pressure and would like further advice on this condition, you can visit the high blood pressure information page at HealthExpress for a free online consultation with a qualified doctor.


Written by Nicola Beckett.
Latest Stories

Get your daily dose of inspiration from our Best of healthexpress blog , where we showcase some of the most stunning stories and information.

General Health

Cow's Milk vs. Soy Milk, Which i...

Soy milk is often presented to us as a healthy milk alternative, especially for those who have trouble digesting animal milk, but is it better for...

Weight Loss

Relatively Painless Ways To Lose...

There's no arguing that trying to lose weight is boring, tedious and takes literally forever. If only there were some easy and painless ways to...

General Health

How to deal with allergies

Allergy UK says that 30-35% of the worldwide population will suffer from an allergy at some point, and there is an upwards trend of allergy...

Sexual Health

Sex Vs No Sex: Which Is Best For...

If you ask anyone this question, they will probably say that sex is best for health and more of it please. But there are always two sides to a...

General Health

Can you run for your bus? Appare...

The health of British men and women is not glowing. 'Could Try Harder' should be scribbled our health reports because a new survey conducted by the...

Weight Loss

Occasional Consumption; Is It To...

We are in the midst of an obesity crisis of which we are uncertain of the outcome. Who knows how this epidemic will pan out in the future? Are we...

Load More Stories
comments powered by Disqus