A Manageable Diet For Blood Pressure
Generally as we age we are more at risk of high blood pressure, particularly at age 50 for men and women.
Women have some protection before menopause from oestrogen. Men however, are slightly more at risk due to diets higher in processed/red meat and alcohol.
Some people may not think about what they are eating to protect their heart until they have had a heart attack.
Keep an eye on your blood pressure
Ideally try to keep an eye on your blood pressure by keeping a blood pressure kit at home.
Once every 2 weeks should be plenty. A healthy blood pressure reading is 120/80.
The higher reading is the pressure of blood being pumped round the body by the heart and the lower reading the speed at which it relaxes in between beats.
If it starts to increase to 140 then this does not mean you will need blood pressure tablets. However if it starts to increase to 160 then you may be put on tablets by your GP as you will be at more risk of a heart attack or a stroke!
Apart from stress on the body from lifestyle; lack of sleep, worrying, rushing about and lack of exercise, your diet can have a bad or good effect depending on what you choose to eat. Especially if you see your weight increasing!
Tips to manage blood pressure
So here are my top tips to help manage blood pressure which if you follow on an 80/20 ratio may help.
– Avoid processed foods which tend to be very high in salt (sodium), hydrogenated fats and sugar: ready meals, crisps, milk chocolate, fried foods and process meats.
– Avoid high sugar drinks: fizzy drinks, fruit juice. Replace these with flavoured water by adding lime and cucumber slices or fresh mint.
– Reduce the amount of red meat in your diet particularly bacon, ham, pork pies.
– Eat sausages no more than once a week and from a butcher to make sure the meat content is higher above 90%.
– Eat dairy in moderation.
Full fat is now trending so it is quality over quantity! Have a 40g piece of cheese with an apple instead of crackers!
Cut the caffeine
Be careful with your caffeine intake.
Even though recent research is coming out with positive health benefits for coffee, if you’re drinking more than 2 or 3 cups a day or you suffer from heart palpitations ; reduce or avoid!
Replace caffeine with dandelion coffee or try Redbush tea.
Fruit and vegetables
Increase the vegetables and fruit. You should be aiming for 3 to 5 portions vegetables and 2 fruit, which I talked about in my article on the pros and cons of a high fibre diet
Fruit and vegetables are also high in antioxidants A, C, E which may help protect the artery walls.
They are high in potassium which helps reduce excess sodium.
Drink plenty… of water
Increase your water intake to prevent dehydration and support blood flow. You should aim for 5 x 200ml glasses of water minimum per day.
While you should be drinking plenty of water, you be moderating your alcohol intake.
Some research suggests alcohol is beneficial in moderation.
The recent recommendations by the Chief medical officer Sally Davies has now been made the same for men and women; 14 units a week maximum is 2 x 125ml glasses of wine or 2 x half pints of beer daily.
Listen to your body if you are waking up with a headache or feeling more tired after drinking on a regular basis then you should think about reducing your alcohol intake. Offer to be the car driver when going out!
Magnesium and B vitamins
Increase magnesium foods such as greens, beans and nuts as it helps relax the heart which is a hard working muscle. Increase B vitamins found in nuts, seeds, eggs and whole grains such has brown rice and oats.
Magnesum and foods high in B vitamins support blood flow(vitamin B3) and stress (vitamin B5) which is linked to heart disease.
If you struggle to get enough of this in your diet it can be useful to take a B complex supplement.
The best type of diet to follow is the Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet is high vegetables, fruit, and fish.
– Porridge with tablespoon of milled seeds & half a cup of berries & 1 tsp of manuka honey.
– 2 Poached eggs & grilled tomatoes on 1 slice of wholegrain bread or
– 150g plain yoghurt with 1 tablespoon of seeds and half a cup of berries.
– Homemade hummus with oatcakes and salad or
– Cottage cheese with pineapple served with lettuce, cucumber and tomato with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or
– Tuna in spring water (avoid the brine) mixed with lime juice, grated ginger 1 dessertspoon of rice bran oil and served with tomato/onion salsa.
Snack: 5 raw brazil nuts.
Dinner: Stir fry with ginger, garlic and chilli and lime juice
– Add to mange toute, bean sprouts, grated carrots and button mushroom, chestnuts and serve with rice noodles.
– Baked cod in foil with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Serve with potato wedges cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper or paprika and pureed peas with mint.
-Home cooked chicken – with no skin – plus homemade coleslaw and home made Spaghetti bolognaise with a side salad.
– Salmon baked in foil with red onions and balsamic vinegar, served with brown rice cooked in vegetable stock with sprinkled of black pepper.
– A glass of red once or twice a week if it suits you!
NB: If your are on medication for blood pressure you should speak to your GP before making any big changes to your diet as improved diets and weight loss can lower blood pressure.
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