Blood pressure is measured as two numbers. The first number is the systolic reading and this is the pressure within your blood vessels as the heart contracts and faces blood into the arteries. The diastolic pressure is the lower number and records the pressure when your heart fills up with blood again. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 for healthy adults. If levels are consistently over 140/90 then you may have high blood pressure.
You may have heard of the DASH Diet (DASH stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’). The idea behind the DASH diet is a taking a lifelong approach to healthy eating to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).
The DASH diet include lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, some fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week.
You can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts. The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat.
The idea behind the DASH diet is to reduce the sodium in your diet and eating foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. We know that certain foods have a good effect on helping reduce high blood pressure, but other factors come into play too.
- Manage stress. Anything you can do to help reduce high stress levels will have a positive effect on blood pressure, This is why relaxation techniques like mindfulness have proved so effective.
- Regular exercise is key to keeping your blood pressure in check, but bear in mind that if your BP is high you may need to increase your activity slowly., Check with your GP if you are unsure.
- Certain foods have e beneficial effect on blood pressure, They include:
- Oily fish – omega 3 fats
- Flaxseed – omega 3 fats, lignin’s and fibre
- Dark chocolate – flavonols
- Olive oil – healthy fats and polyphenols (effects found to be especially beneficial for women)
- Beetroot juice – high in pirates (effect found to be especially beneficial for men)
- Pistachios – one serving a day
- Pomegrante juice – one cup a day for 4 weeks has an effect, possibly because of its high potassium and polyphenol content.