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Healthy Eating to Lower Blood Pressure | Diet

Blood pressure and Diet – Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

High blood pressure is a serious condition – it’s the major risk factor for stroke and heart attack – but there are so many ways to keep your blood pressure numbers to a healthy level, particularly through eating well and staying active.

Although many people with high blood pressure will need to take medication, eating healthily and reducing salt intake in particular can help medicines to work better, and can even reduce the amount of medicines needed.

Even people with healthy blood pressure numbers can make proactive choices – blood pressure tends to increase with age, so this will stand you in good stead for the future.

Eat your way to good blood pressure health:

What you eat and drink can play a major role in keeping your blood pressure healthy. In general, the healthier your diet is, the lower your blood pressure will be.

Salt is a key offender in raising blood pressure and most of us eat far too much of it – we should be eating less than 6g a day, but the majority of us are eating around 9g. All this extra salt makes our bodies hold onto excess water, which then raises blood pressure.

It’s not too hard to cut down on the white stuff – just try to shake less at the table and when cooking, and try to boost flavours with herbs and spices or seasonings like chilli, ginger or lemon juice instead.

But it’s also important to remember that around 80 per cent of the salt in our diets comes from manufactured foods, so beware the hidden salt in bread, breakfast cereals, and cheeses.

Healthy Eating Lowers Blood Pressure

  • Cutting down on salt and eating no more than 6g a day could lower blood pressure by 2-8mmHg.

Getting your five a day or fruit and vegetables is also excellent for your blood pressure health. You’ll not only be getting essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, but fruit and veg also contain potassium, which can help to balance out the negative effects of salt.

Some fruits and vegetables – such as bananas, asparagus or spinach – are particularly rich in potassium, but eating the same foods all the time can be a bit dull, and different foods have different nutrients, so we’d recommend getting a good variety.

  • Eating five, or ideally seven to nine, portions of fruit and vegetables a day can lower blood pressure by 7mmHg or more.

“Eating healthily and being active will also help you to keep to a healthy weight, which is good news for your blood pressure. And if you’re overweight a 10kg weight loss (i.e 22lbs) could help to lower your blood pressure by 5-10mmHg.”

A guide to blood pressure levels: Measure how healthy eating helps lower blood pressure.

One of the most common blood pressure questions is “what do the numbers mean?”

Less than 120/80mmHg – blood pressure is at the ‘optimal’ level so follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it that way

121/81 – 129/84mmHg – blood pressure is ‘average’ and you would benefit from lowering it

130/85 – 139/89mmHg – blood pressure is on the ‘high side of normal’ and should be lowered

140/90mmHg or above – if readings are consistently at or above this level you have high blood pressure, take action now to lower it


Vegetables Lower Blood Pressure

Eating Fresh Vegetables Helps Lower Blood Pressure

Eating more fruit and vegetables helps to lower blood pressure. New research may help to reveal why.

For many years the five a day message has been publicised – now there is further evidence to support the health benefits of a diet that includes pleant of fresh savory vegetables as well as sweet fruit.

Researchers have discovered that people who eat more vegetable protein have a lower blood pressure. In particular, one component of vegetable protein, glutamic acid, appears to have a direct relation to blood pressure: the more glutamic acid you eat, the lower your blood pressure will be.

glutamic acid which creates the fifth taste sense known as ‘umami’ – otherwise known as ‘savoury’

broccoli lowers blood pressure

Vegetables that are high in glutamic acid include

  • broccoli
  • soy (used to make tofu)
  • durum wheat (used to make pasta)
  • cabbage
  • rice
  • grains (used to make bread).

Vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage are particularly high in a chemical called glutamic acid which creates the fifth taste sense known as ‘umami’ – otherwise known as ‘savoury’.

The results come from the INTERMAP study (the International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure), which looked at the blood pressures and eating habits of 4,680 people from the UK, US, China and Japan. It found that people who ate nearly 5% more glutamic acid than other people had a lower average systolic blood pressure (top number) of 1.5-3.0mmHg and a lower average diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 1.0-1.6mmHg.

At the moment, there are no studies into the safety of eating large doses of glutamic acid, so it is recommended that you do not take glutamic acid supplements, but instead eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The additional benefit of this approach is that you will also be lowering your saturated fat intake and taking in many other helpful antioxidants and vitamins at the same time.

Dr Stamler said

These findings show the only effective long-term approach to preventing hypertension and pre-hypertension is eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and regular exercise

Healthy Christmas Dinner Festive Food Ideas

Have a happy, hearty Christmas feast!

Christmas is a time of year for indulging in good food and drink with family and friends.  Here are some ways you can have a hearty, healthy and happy celebration to remember.

christmas pasty

Christmas lunch can be a very nutritious meal – in theory, it contains all the right ingredients, from plenty of vegetables to low-fat turkey meat. In practice, the issue is the sheer amounts we tend to eat in one go – in fact many of us will eat up to 6,000 calories on Christmas Day. That’s the daily allowance for three women or two and a half men!

With a few little changes here and there you can cut down on the calories, and still have a delicious, indulgent Christmas dinner. Here are some tips to give you some ideas:

Instead of: Why not try:
Fat-laden pate starter Home-made vegetable soup. It’s delicious, warming and you’ll get one of your 5-a-day. Butternut squash with a hint of ginger is very moreish.Or a salmon starter – full of those heart-friendly omega-3 fish oils And if using smoked salmon, gently rinse or sponge it first to remove excess salt.
Goose-fat roast potatoes – high in saturated fats Olive-oil roast potatoes – a source of cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats
Boiling your Christmas veg Steam them. You’ll keep more of the vitamins in the vegetables
Roast duck, goose, beef, pork or lamb Turkey (it’s much lower in fat and very traditional, not to mention cheaper too)
Bread sauce ready mix Homemade bread sauce, made from crumbled, stale bread with semi-skimmed milk and a clove of garlic. It’ll be much lower in salt and fat and much tastier
Ready made sausage meat – a high-fat stuffing (100g can have 16g of fat) Chestnut stuffing – it’s low in fat and a good source of potassium, which will help to lower your blood pressure by countering the effects of salt. (100g of cranberry, orange and chestnut stuffing has just 0.8g of fat)
Ice cream and cream – full of saturated fat Sorbet, frozen yoghurt or crème fraiche (all of which are light and delicious)
Christmas pudding Christmas pudding! It’s low in fat, high in fruit and a great Christmas treat – so tuck in! Just go easy on the cream and custard.