Having raised or high blood pressure can significantly increase our risk factors for cardiovascular problems, especially heart attacks and strokes. However, it can also cause a myriad of other issues and may even affect the eyes.
It’s very important to try to keep blood pressure readings within normal ranges for your age. But thankfully making some diet and lifestyle changes can have a significant effect.
This Know Your Numbers’ week, clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top tips for reducing blood pressure naturally.
Grab some garlic
Garlic is one of the most effective botanicals for reducing blood pressure. Try to include garlic in your cooking as much as possible; it’s also good to take as a supplement.
Garlic really enhances a wealth of dishes, whether they be veggie sides, fish, meat, beans, pasta, or rice dishes. And green leafy vegetables are also great for helping reduce blood pressure, partly down to their high magnesium content. Why not stir fry spinach, broccoli, or kale with garlic?
Go for salmon
Salmon contains the essential omega-3 fatty acids which are known to help reduce blood pressure. However, not all salmon is created equal! It’s important to try and find wild salmon, which will always look pinker in colour than farmed salmon. This is down to the natural astaxanthin, an alga that the wild salmon naturally feed on, and which is one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man. Hence this will also be helpful for reducing blood pressure.
The UK Government recommends one to two portions of oily fish per week (which we are generally not achieving as a nation). However, if you have high blood pressure then aim for three to four per week. Sardines, mackerel, and tuna are also good sources of omega-3s. However, smoked salmon is high in salt so probably best avoided, as excess salt can lead to higher blood pressure.
Snack on bananas
Bananas are high in potassium which is needed to keep blood pressure in good balance. Potassium works alongside magnesium and calcium in regulating blood pressure.
The good news is that most fruits and vegetables contain potassium, but bananas, melons, avocados, and apricots are especially helpful. And they can all easily be incorporated into the daily diet in meals or snacks. Smashed avocado on seeded sourdough bread makes one of the best starts to the day!
Eat brown not white
Whole grain foods (often referred to as ‘brown’) are loaded with fibre, unlike their refined ‘white’ counterparts. For example, brown rice retains the outer fibrous husk, whereas it’s been removed in the refining process in white rice. And the same follows for wheat-based pasta.
Importantly, the fibre in whole grains helps reduce blood pressure. We need around 30 grams of fibre per day, which is sadly lacking in the typical Western diet. Whole grain rice, brown basmati rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, buckwheat, millet, and oats are the order of the day if you want to keep blood pressure in check.
Avoid processed meats
There are lots of good reasons for keeping intake of bacon, ham, salamis, meat sausages and other processed versions to an absolute minimum. These foods are often high in histamine which can raise blood pressure. Additionally, they are known to raise levels of fats in the blood which will have a negative effect on blood pressure, plus are high in salt, another potential trigger.
Instead, try to stick to a more plant-based diet including plenty of whole grains, nuts (especially walnuts) and seeds, fruits and vegetables, legumes with some oily fish. The typical Mediterranean diet is known to be super heart healthy and will help reduce blood pressure.
It’s not just your blood pressure that will benefit from making a few changes; you’re helping to future-proof your health too! Find out more about Know Your Numbers week by visiting the Blood Pressure Uk Website.
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