High blood pressure is a condition where the pressure inside a persons arteries is higher than it should be. Left untreated, the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease is increased.
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So what can be done to keep blood pressure under control?
High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily.
The NHS recommends cutting down on the amount of salt in your food, because salt raises blood pressure.
One food that tends to be high in salt, which people with high blood pressure should think to avoid, is frozen fish and seafood.
While seafood is considered healthy, frozen fish is often brined in a salt solution to make it last longer.
Blood Pressure UK explains the impact of salt on blood pressure: “Salt makes your body retain water. If you eat too much, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure.
“This can be a particular problem if you have high blood pressure.
“Also, eating too much salt may mean that blood pressure medicines, such as diuretics, don’t work as well.”
An adult should eat no more than 6g of salt a day, but data in recent years has shown people are consuming around 8g a day.
The charity offers a number of tips to eat less salt and help your blood pressure:
- Don’t add salt when cooking. This includes salty foods like soy sauce, stock cubes and gravy granules.
- Get extra flavour with herbs and spices, and from seasonings like chilli, ginger, lemon or lime juice.
- If you really can’t do without a salty favour, you could try using a small amount of low-sodium salt substitute. If you have kidney problems or diabetes, check with your doctor or nurse first.
- Jarred cooking sauces and table sauces like ketchup, mustard and pickles can contain a lot of salt. Check the label and choose low-salt options.
- Bread and breakfast cereals can contain a lot of salt. Check the labels to compare brands.
- Smoked and processed meats and fish contain a lot of salt. Limit your intake of these.
- If you are eating out, ask if your meal can be made with less salt. This may not be possible, but it is always worth asking.
- Look out for low-salt recipes. There are a number of low-salt cookbooks available, or you can search on the Internet.
- High blood pressure: Avoid eating this food to lower reading
Other ways to lower blood pressure
Another way to prevent or reduce blood pressure is to be active.
The NHS advises: “Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
“Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
“Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
“Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.”
Limiting alcohol intake is also important when it comes to blood pressure.
The health body adds: “Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.
“Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure – men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week and you should spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.
“Alcohol is also high in calories, which will make you gain weight and can further increase your blood pressure.”
Losing weight, cutting down on caffeine and stopping smoking can also have a positive impact on blood pressure.
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