FAQ - How do I cope with High Blood Pressure?
Expert nutritionists share their frequently asked questions…
Q - "I was recently advised that my blood pressure was a little high. I don’t have to take medication for this at the moment but I am concerned as there is a history of heart disease in my family. Is there anything I could do to help maintain healthy blood pressure naturally?"
A - There may be several factors that increase blood pressure, including smoking, stress, insufficient exercise, nutritional imbalances, a high-salt diet and being overweight.
In order to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, it is best to keep to your optimal bodyweight by exercising for 30 minutes, three to four times a week and avoiding smoking. Keep to a healthy, balanced diet that is low in salt and high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim for five to six portions of fruit and vegetables a day and opt for a variety of different types.
Research has recently shown that flax seed proteins may be useful for maintaining normal blood pressure. It would, therefore, be advisable to include one to two tablespoons of cold milled flax seeds in your diet each day.
Keep your diet low in saturated fats; which are found in animal foods such as red meat, dairy produce and fried foods; as these have been linked to heart disease. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they may have a negative impact on stress levels and this, in turn, may increase blood pressure. If stress is playing a role in your increased blood pressure levels, plant extracts such as rhodiola and ashwaganda or relaxing activities like yoga may help you to stay calm.
Magnesium is a mineral that assists with the release of contracted muscles and it may be of use for relaxing the artery wall muscles and maintaining normal blood pressure. Arginine may also support artery wall relaxation as it is needed by the body to make nitric oxide – a substance that allows blood vessels to relax and open up. Garlic and co-enzyme Q10 have also been shown to help support healthy blood pressure levels and all round good heart health. Finally, the essential fatty acids and, in particular, the omega 3s found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna steak, would also be worth including in your diet, as they help to maintain good blood flow. A good quality fish oil supplement could be a good way to get your omega 3s if you do not like fish or don’t know what seas your fish come from.