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High blood pressure does not produce any outward signs so it is easy to ignore it. In fact, the only way to tell whether you have high blood pressure is get a blood pressure test. This makes the condition a sleeping giant because what is happening under the surface can eventually cause life-threatening damage.
“The primary way that high blood pressure causes harm is by increasing the workload of the heart and blood vessels — making them work harder and less efficiently,” explains the American Heart Association (AHA).
As the AHA explains, over time, the force and friction of high blood pressure damages the delicate tissues inside the arteries.
“In turn, LDL (bad) cholesterol forms plaque along tiny tears in the artery walls, signifying the start of atherosclerosis,” it warns.
Atherosclerosis is a process whereby a build up of fatty substances such as cholesterol causes the blood vessels to thicken.
This reduces the amount of blood flowing through them and can starve the heart of oxygen and nutrients.
This can trigger a heart attack so it is imperative that you lower your blood pressure to prevent this harmful process.
A key way to reverse this process is to relax the thickened blood vessels, which in turn will lower your blood pressure.
Consuming certain dietary items have been shown to relax the blood vessels and subsequently lower high blood pressure.
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Supplements containing hawthorn berries – tiny fruits that grow on trees and shrubs belonging to the Crataegus genus – have been shown to perform this vital function.
In fact, it is a staple treatment for high blood pressure in traditional Chinese medicine, according to research.
Several animal studies show that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, meaning it can relax constricted blood vessels, ultimately lowering blood pressure.
In a 10-week study in 36 people with mildly elevated blood pressure, those taking 500 mg of hawthorn extract daily experienced no significant decreases in blood pressure, although they showed a trend toward reduced diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading).
Your diastolic blood pressure reading is regarded as the most important blood pressure number because it is the best indicator of your likelihood of having a heart attack.
Another 16-week study in 79 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure observed that those who took 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract daily had greater improvements in blood pressure, compared with those in the placebo group
Nonetheless, a similar study in 21 people with mildly elevated blood pressure noted no differences between the hawthorn-extract and placebo groups.
General dietary tips to lower blood pressure
It is vital that you reduce your salt intake because salt can directly raise your blood pressure.
According to the NHS, adults should eat no more than six grams of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around one teaspoon.
“Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure,” explains the health body.
According to the health body, you should aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
It is also imperative to lose weight if you are overweight because carrying excess weight can raise your blood pressure, it warns.
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