High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure forces your heart to have to work harder to pump blood around the body. Over time, this increased intensity can cause your blood vessels to swell and constrict, laying the groundwork for heart disease to develop. Fortunately, you can intervene long before serious heart problems arise, namely by improving your diet.
“If you’re wondering where to start with your high blood pressure diet, the first meal of the day seems sensible,” notes Holland and Barrett.
Numerous items have been shown to reduce high blood pressure, many of which can be integrated into your breakfast.
According to Holland and Barrett, these include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Low-fat dairy
- Bananas and berries.
A mountain of evidence supports the benefits of eating nuts in particular.
Walnuts contain a plant-based omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which scientists believe has beneficial effects on blood pressure.
Researchers in a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association sought to find out if the ALA content of walnuts contributes to improvements in heart health, such as reducing high blood pressure.
The scientists recruited 45 participants, aged 30–65, who were either overweight or obese to their study.
The scientists then randomly assigned the participants into three different diet groups and monitored the impact of each diet over the course of the study.
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The diets were:
- A diet that included whole walnuts
- A diet that did not include walnuts but which incorporated the same amount of ALA and polyunsaturated fatty acids
- A diet that did not include walnuts and which partially substituted the same amount of ALA present in walnuts with another fatty acid called oleic acid.
The researchers also found that the participants who ate the whole walnut diet had lower central blood pressure than those who ate the other diets.
Central blood pressure is the pressure in the aorta; the large artery that sends blood from the heart throughout the body.
Other key dietary tips
To keep high blood pressure at bay, it is also important to shun foods known to raise your reading.
The most important dietary intervention is to cut back on sodium.
“Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
Cutting back on processed foods is key to this effort.
The Mayo Clinic explains: “Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.”
The other crucial countermeasure is regular exercise.
The NHS explains: “Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.”
As the health body points out, regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
“Adults should do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.”
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