High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure affects millions of people, many of whom are unaware they’re affected. Because the condition is a major risk factor for deadly ailments, keeping your blood pressure reading in check is imperative. Fortunately, certain fruits can drastically lower blood pressure, helping stave off the condition. Kiwis, for example, have demonstrated lowering effects on both diastolic and systolic pressure in eight weeks.
Some well-established causes of high blood pressure include a lack of exercise, being overweight or eating foods that contain too much salt.
But omitting certain fruits and vegetables from one’s diet can also set the stage for hypertension because these foods are a good source of potassium, which has lowering effects on blood pressure.
In one randomised trial published in the journal Blood Pressure, researchers studied the effects of kiwifruit on 118 subjects with high blood pressure or stage one hypertension over a period of eight weeks.
The team observed significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic pressure in subjects who ate three kiwis a day for eight weeks.
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The researchers suggested the bioactive substances of the fruit could lower blood pressure by more than one apple a day.
They wrote: “Among men and women with moderately elevated blood pressure, intake of three kiwifruits was associated with lower systolic and diastolic 24-hour blood pressure compared with one apple a day.
“The effect may be regulated by mechanisms other than improvement of endothelial function.”
High blood pressure is measured in two numbers.
The top number, systolic pressure, measures the pressure blood exerts on the arteries while pumping, whereas diastolic pressure is a measurement of the pressure in arteries between heartbeats.
According to Blood Pressure UK: “The top number is more important because it gives a better idea of your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.”
The fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, which has been shown to significantly improve blood pressure readings in people who consume 500 mg of the vitamin daily.
But the lowering effects of kiwi on blood pressure have also been attributed to lutein, a powerful antioxidant found in abundance in the fruit.
Commenting on the study, doctor Nehal Mehta, a preventive cardiologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia said: “There is the biological plausibility, but I would not go and grab three kiwis a day.
Doctor Elliott M. Antman, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston added: “Don’t count on this to be the complete answer to high blood pressure.”
A review in 2017 found that people who eat higher amounts of kiwi fruit tend to have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Previous studies have suggested the fruit’s high concentrations of fibre make it a strong candidate to lower high cholesterol too.
The Harvard Health website confirms the benefits of eating kiwi’s for high cholesterol, adding: “Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to peel these fuzzy, brown fruits
“But to avoid the skin, slice one in half and scoop out the inside with a spoon for an easy, fibre-rich, sweet snack.”
Other fruits with potent lowering effects on blood pressure include citrus fruits, berries, bananas, pomegranate, prunes and melons.
Alongside diet, other lifestyle measures including adequate sleep and stress management are crucial for regulating blood pressure.
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