It’s estimated that 1 billion people have high blood pressure (hypertension) which is the number-one risk factor for death and disability in the world. New studies are showing that after midlife, having hypertension increases your risk of dementia.
It’s a silent disease. Often, there are no symptoms, so that’s why it’s important to be tested regularly by your healthcare practitioner.
Luckily, you can mitigate against high blood pressure through managing your diet – and it's easier than you think.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are full of essential vitamins like C, E and folate. They also contain essential minerals like magnesium and potassium. Not to mention heart-healthy fibre. All these nutrients are needed for optimal heart health and blood pressure.
Beets, in particular, contain a blood pressure lowering substance called “nitrate.” Beet juice can reduce blood pressure within hours of drinking it. Try to stick to the 5-a-day rule, snack on some almonds, and throw some lentils into you meat-free monday bolognese.
Hibiscus tea has proven blood pressure lowering effects.
In one study, people with mild hypertension drank three cups of hibiscus tea every day. After six weeks their blood pressure was effectively reduced.
Reduce your intake of these 2 things
Salt. It's common knowledge that a high salt intake can significantly raise your blood pressure, so it's important to manage how much you eat - especially if you suffer from, or know you're at risk for hypertension. This is easier said than done, as many of the foods we eat, especially prepackaged, are loaded with excess salt that we often ignore. Try not to salt your food unless you really need to, and avoid eating fried salty foods as much as possible.
Alcohol... For some, this is non consequential and decreasing alcohol intake isn't a mission. But for others, alcohol is an integral part of our social lives and something we love. Where possible, try to swap out your beverage with a non-alcoholic alternative – especially if you already have hypertension.
Saturated fats will also clog up your arteries, definitely increasing your risk of hypertension. Read more about those here.
High blood pressure is a silent and very common health concern. But like most issues concerning our health, we can counteract them through food.
Remember, if you are taking medications for hypertension, speak with your doctor before making these changes.