Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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“I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to try to get your numbers down,” said Dr Rossi. “Even cutting blood pressure by 5mmHg can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by around 10 percent.” The consumption of salt is one of the key drivers in heightening blood pressure, which is why potassium-rich foods are helpful in bringing down your reading.
Salt “encourages the kidneys to retain fluid”, explained Dr Rossi, which “increases the volume of blood in your blood vessels”.
Consuming potassium-rich foods help to counter such a response by increasing the amount of sodium (the main component of salt) that is excreted in urine.
Moreover, potassium helps to dilate the blood vessels, meaning there is more space for blood to pass through.
Good sources include “bananas” and “tuna” (the type that is not tinned in brine), but Dr Rossi highlighted other potassium-rich foods, such as:
- Fermented dairy
“But boosting your potassium does not mean you can start sprinkling salt on everything,” Dr Rossi cautioned.
Instead, people should aim for less than 6g of salt per day, which “may reduce your blood pressure by 2mmHg to 8mmHg”.
Dr Rossi penned to the Daily Mail that “around 70 percent of salt intake comes from processed foods”.
This is why it’s important to “check labels” – it’s a high-salt food if it reads more than 1.6g of salt (or 0.6g sodium).
“People with high blood pressure tend to have less diverse gut bacteria, research shows,” added Dr Rossi.
And less diverse gut bacteria is linked to inflammation, the dietitian explained.
As such, inflammation could irritate blood vessels and, in turn, raise blood pressure.
To help produce a more diverse gut microbiome, Dr Rossi recommended eating a wide range of plant-based foods.
“Aim for 30 different types a week to keep your gut microbes thriving,” said Dr Rossi.
“That means wholegrains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds. Even herbs and spices count.”
While diet plays a paramount role in the management of blood pressure, there are other factors to consider too.
The NHS encourages people to cut down their alcohol intake (to less than 14 units weekly) and to “get active”.
By consuming less alcohol, you are inadvertently consuming less calories, and by moving more, you can lose excess weight.
“Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure,” the NHS explains.
“Losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health.”
Weight loss can be achieved by burning more calories than you consume daily.
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