High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure means your blood pressure is consistently too high and means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. This mechanism can raise your risk of serious circulatory diseases over time so it is vital that you reduce a high blood pressure reading. Key to this effort is to cut back on certain foods.
According to health body Cleveland Clinic, you should eat less of the following:
- Butter and margarine
- Regular salad dressings
- Fatty meats
- Whole milk dairy products
- Fried foods
- Salted snacks
- Canned soups
- Fast foods
- Deli meats.
Many of the above items have a high salt content – this causes blood pressure levels to rise.
How does salt raise blood pressure?
A high salt diet disrupts the natural sodium balance in the body.
As Action on Salt, a research body based at Queen Mary University of London, explains, this causes fluid retention which increases the pressure exerted by the blood against blood vessel walls.
“Reducing salt is one of the quickest ways to reduce your blood pressure, particularly if you already have high blood pressure,” says the research body.
The daily recommended amount in the UK is no more than six grams a day.
The current average salt intake is around eight grams of salt a day, although many people are eating more than this.
A helpful tip for cutting down on salt is to check the salt content on food labels.
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“In the UK labels on pre-packed food must say how much salt they contain,” explains the NHS.
“Look out for the salt content in the everyday foods you buy, and choose lower-salt options.”
According to the health body, most pre-packed foods have a nutrition label on the back or side of the packaging.
“Many foods also display information about the salt content on the front of the packaging,” it adds.
What should you eat more of to reduce high blood pressure?
Following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can help you to keep high blood pressure at bay.
“DASH diet is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that’s designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension),” explains the Mayo Clinic.
According to the health body, the DASH diet encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
“By following the DASH diet, you may be able to reduce your blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks,” it says.
The DASH diet emphasises lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
It also includes some fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts.
In addition to improving your diet, regular physical exercise can help to lower high blood pressure.
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