Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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High blood pressure, or hypertension, lays the groundwork for serious health problems, ranging from heart attacks to strokes. Worryingly, what you put into your body can set this condition off, pointing the finger at poor lifestyle choices. However, certain foods could come to the rescue.
Whether you’re guilty of eating too much salt that causes your blood pressure to reach dangerous heights or you’re over 65 years old which puts you at a higher risk, potassium can provide a helping hand.
Public health nutritionist, Dr Emma Derbyshire from the Health & Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), said: “Potassium is a mineral nutrient needed for the nervous system function; muscle function and blood pressure regulation.”
While bananas are probably the most famous when it comes to foods with high potassium content, the expert shared you can enjoy a variety of different products.
What’s more, Derbyshire listed five potassium-rich foods that could help meet your daily target.
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She said: “Women [and men] need 3,500 mg potassium daily.
“As a benchmark guide, one cup of cooked lima beans provides around 969 mg potassium; one cup of cooked spinach about 839 mg potassium; one cup of cooked sweet potato around 572 mg; one cup of canned stewed tomatoes delivers around 528 mg and half a cup of avocado about 364 mg.”
If these foods don’t appeal to you, the likes of milk, tea, dried apricots and raisins represent “other useful sources”, offering more than 200mg per serving each.
What’s more, the expert shared that “in theory” potassium could bust your high reading in “weeks or months”.
The reason why the mineral is able to combat hypertension comes down to its ability to relax your arteries.
Derbyshire said: “Potassium helps to relax blood vessels walls and reduce their tension helping to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of muscle cramping.
“Insufficient levels of potassium in the blood compared with sodium (from salt) can lead to sudden death from a heart attack in people with hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease.”
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While everyone should meet their daily target of 3,500 mg of potassium a day, the expert shared many don’t get enough.
“Most of us are guilty of not always getting the right nutrients from our diets as many of us find it hard to eat the recommended five fruit and vegetables a day,” she noted.
Furthermore, research and data from a recent HSIS report – Diet Disasters For The Seven Ages Of Women: How Nutritional Gaps Are Putting Women’s Health Under Threat Across The Lifecycle – further backs this claim.
The research found that 24 percent of women between the ages of 19 and 64 years score below the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (“the level below which deficiency could occur”).
“If you find it hard to get the vital daily nutrients from diet alone, have a busy lifestyle or feel your diet is not as good as it could be, bridge potassium gaps with a multivitamin and multimineral supplement,” Derbyshire added.
However, the Harvard Medical School notes that people should “avoid” potassium supplements unless a doctor prescribed them.
Apart from boosting your potassium intake, cutting back on salt can also help bust your high blood pressure.
In fact, Blood Pressure UK shares that cutting back on the common ingredient is “one of the simplest ways” to lower your blood pressure.
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