If you’re worried about the numbers on your blood pressure reading, or you want to prevent high blood pressure in the future, your diet is a good place to start. Eating the right foods can have an impact on your blood pressure, but first you’ll need to know what to avoid.
A staggering one in three UK adults has high blood pressure, according to the Blood Pressure UK.
High blood pressure is a major warning sign for developing serious diseases and can lead to events like heart attacks and strokes if left untreated.
It’s advisable to get your blood pressure checked often, as it doesn’t always have obvious symptoms.
People over the age of 40 are advised to get their blood pressure checked every five years, whereas those considered at risk of high blood pressure should get it checked as often as once every year.
The promising news is that if you have high blood pressure, or want to decrease your chances of developing it, you can make some very easy changes to your diet and lifestyle to combat it.
1 – Salt
Is it food or seasoning? Either way, if you’ve got high blood pressure, it’s a no-go.
Salt affects the balance of fluids in the blood, which can contribute to high blood pressure.
The British Heart Foundation’s advice to cut down on salt is: “Don’t cook with salt or add any to your food at the table, and cut down on processed foods, which contain a lot of salt.”
2 – Alcohol
You can still enjoy the odd glass, but try to stay within the recommended guidelines.
That’s 14 units per week, which equals roughly six pints of beer, or 10 small glasses of wine.
The NHS hasten to add it’s best to spread those units out over a few days, rather than save them up and drink them all at once.
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6 – Butter
Butter is high in saturated fat, which is not recommended for those who have high blood pressure. Try a low-fat or low-cholesterol spread instead.
7 – Frozen pizza
Yes, it’s delicious but it’s another culprit for hidden salt.
One whole UK supermarket’s pepperoni pizza contains 60 percent of your recommended daily salt intake.
8 – Tomato ketchup
If you’re avoiding chips and other fatty foods then avoiding ketchup too should go hand in hand.
Some varieties of ketchup are really high in salt, look out for reduced salt and sugar versions or have a smaller portion – your blood pressure will thank you!
9 – Cured meats
Cured meats are often cured with salt, meaning they’re packed with sodium.
These are best avoided if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure.
10 – Tinned soup
Another hiding place for salt! Half a can of one supermarket’s chicken soup contains 20 percent of your recommended salt intake.
11 – Sugary drinks
Sugary drinks mean you might be consuming more sugar and more calories without even realising, which will lead to weight gain.
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.
12 – Pastries
As pastry tends to contain butter to give it that melt-in-your-mouth quality, this means it can be high in saturated fat.
Saturated fat causes high cholesterol which in turn can cause high blood pressure, so save your pastries for an occasional treat.
13 – Processed meats
Processed meats include burgers, sausages and bacon.
They can be high in both salt and saturated fat, making them a recipe for high blood pressure.
However, why not try making a blood pressure-friendly version at home? Try making burgers with lean mince and reduced salt.
14 – Kebabs
Another processed meat, your Friday night kebab is not going to help your blood pressure reading.
Luckily, it’s easy to make a healthier alternative at home – all you need is a homemade marinade and some bamboo skewers.
15 – Processed carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates have also been shown to have an effect on blood pressure. Why not swap for a whole wheat alternative?
Whole wheat pasta, brown bread and brown rice are all tasty swaps you can make.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure or your diet, speak to your doctor who can help you with some advice on how to make healthier choices and changes to your lifestyle.