High blood pressure is a common condition but symptoms are rarely noticeable, or if they do show, they can be mistaken for less serious health problems.
The best way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to see your GP and have them take your reading.
Eating an unhealthy diet can be one of the main causes of high blood pressure, in particular eating too much salt.
Salt causes the body to retain water, which can raise your blood pressure, and there are three foods you should be wary of that can tip you ever your daily recommended allowance of sugar.
Adults are recommended not to eat more than 6g of salt a day. But it is easy to exceed this, according to Superdrug Online Doctor, as lots of salt is hidden in processed foods.
Three foods that contain hidden salt are:
- Ready meals
It advises: “Always check the packaging and try to choose low-salt options.
“Some food packaging lists the amount of sodium (one of the chemicals in salt) rather than salt levels.
“1g of sodium is the same as 2.5g salt.”
You should also aim to eat a low-fat, healthy diet, keep a healthy weight, avoid alcohol, do more exercise, quit smoking, drink less caffeine, and sleep well.
Certain foods have also been found to help lower you reading – in particular three drinks.
Research carried out by Queen Mary University of London, and funded by British Heart Foundation (BHF), involved 64 volunteers who drank a cup of beetroot juice a day for the duration of the study.
The participants, who were all high blood pressure patients, drank 150ml of the vegetable juice a day and were found to have blood pressure levels back in what is considered the normal range.
BHF explains: “The effect is caused by the high heels of a type of chemical called nitrates, which is found in high quantities in beetroot, and other leafy green vegetables like kale and cabbage.”
Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, who led the research, said: “This research has proven that a daily inorganic nitrate dose can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure and the best part is we can get it from beetroot and other leafy green vegetables.”
“For those looking to work dietary nitrate into their daily diets, the trick is not to boil the vegetables – as dietary nitrate is water soluble – but steaming, roasting or drinking in a juice all has a positive effect.”
This fruit has long been linked to regulating blood pressure. A Queen Margaret University study found participants who drank 500ml of pomegranate juice had a reduction in blood pressure.
Pomegranates act as an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor, which helps blood vessels to relax and open up, lowering blood pressure.
Hibiscus tea is a herbal tea made from the flowers of the hibiscus shrub. Studies carried out over the years have found it has a number of health benefits from helping high cholesterol to digestion.
The drink has also been found to lower blood pressure.
The blood pressure lowering action of hibiscus tea is mostly due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on blood vessel walls to improve their elasticity and ability to dilate, explains Dr Sarah Brewer on her website Mylowerbloodpressure.com.
She adds: “Hibiscus tea also has a diuretic action which flushes excess fluid and sodium/salt from the body.”
In one study, drinking hibiscus tea for just 12 days reduced systolic pressure, cites medical researcher, biochemist and chiropractor Dr David Williams.
On his website Drdavidwilliams.com, he advises: “This remedy is one that must be used continuously to maintain its positive results.
“When participants in the same study stopped drinking the tea for just three days, their blood pressure began to creep upward.
“I’ve also found this to be true in my own experience.
“Look specifically for tea made from hibiscus sabdariffa. It is generally made from the flowers and fruit of the plant.”