High blood pressure: High-flavanol diet shown to reduce high blood pressure

High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading

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High blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels and this extra work can hike your risk of cardiovascular problems. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily reversed by making simple dietary modifications. Research suggests a flavanol-rich diet can help to reduce a high reading.

Flavanols are a type of plant nutrient found in many foods and drinks.

Common examples include tea, red wine, blueberries, apples, pears, cherries, and peanuts.

Findings published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests following a flavanol-rich diet equals the impact of other blood-pressure lowering diets.

Researchers studied the diet of more than 25,000 people in Norfolk, UK and compared what they ate with their blood pressure.

The difference in blood pressure between those with the lowest 10 percent of flavanol intake and those with the highest 10 percent of intake was between two and four millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

This is comparable to meaningful changes in blood pressure observed in those following a Mediterranean diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Notably, the effect was more pronounced in participants with high blood pressure.

Professor Gunter Kuhnle, a nutritionist at the University of Reading who led the study said: “Previous studies of large populations have always relied on self-reported data to draw conclusions, but this is the first epidemiological study of this scale to objectively investigate the association between a specific bioactive compound and health.

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“We are delighted to see that in our study, there was also a meaningful and significant association between flavanol consumption and lower blood pressure.”

Prof Kuhnle continued: “What this study gives us is an objective finding about the association between flavanols – found in tea and some fruits – and blood pressure.

“This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols. In the British diet, the main sources are tea, cocoa, apples and berries.”

High blood pressure – what to avoid

You must limit your intake of certain dietary items to keep high blood pressure at bay.

Cut down on the amount of salt in your food because salt raises your blood pressure.

“Aim to eat less than six grams (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful,” advises the NHS.

According to the health body, 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.

“Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day,” it adds.

To maximise the benefits of healthy eating, you should also keep physically active.

The Mayo Clinic explains: “Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort.”

As the health body points out, if your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.

“Aerobic activity can be an effective way to control high blood pressure,” it adds.

Examples of aerobic activities include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Riding a bike
  • Dancing
  • Doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower
  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading.

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