High blood pressure: Doctor explains benefits of hibiscus tea
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High blood pressure, sometimes called hypertension, rarely displays noticeable symptoms. But this is an added scare as high blood pressure increases your risk of developing serious conditions like heart attacks or strokes. In the UK, around one third of adults have high blood pressure, according to the NHS, although the organisation says many don’t realise it right away. Everyone’s blood pressure will be slightly different, and what’s considered low or high for you may be normal for someone else. The only way to check if your blood pressure is high is to have it tested, something everyone should be doing often.
Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a huge contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Table salt is about 40 percent sodium, of which you’re recommended to eat about one teaspoon a day with high blood pressure.
These foods are a major contributor to daily salt intake:
- Breads and rolls
- Cured meats
Processed and deli meats are often packed with sodium as manufacturers cure, season and preserve them with salt.
Even the ones dubbed ‘low salt’ tend to be pretty high in sodium, so try and avoid if you can.
A diet high in salt can upset the normal balance of sodium in your body, leading to fluid retention and subsequently a higher blood pressure.
According to figures from Action on Salt, reducing your sodium intake from 10g a day to 6g could reduce your blood pressure. It could result in a 16 percent reduction in stroke deaths and a 12 percent reduction in coronary heart disease deaths.
Sugar causes obesity, something everyone knows, but it’s also a main factor in increasing blood pressure.
Sugar disrupts your metabolism, for example by causing the body to produce too much insulin and leptin, reducing sodium and water excretion by the kidneys and causing your blood vessels to constrict.
Some sugary foods to avoid:
- Fruit juice
- Sports drinks
- Protein bars
- High-fructose corn syrup
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Saturated and trans fats
Eating too much saturated and trans fats increases your bad cholesterol and, therefore, raises the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Foods containing large quantities of saturated and trans fats include:
- Red meat – beef, lamb and pork
- Chicken skin
- Full-fat milk
- Full-fat butter
- Frozen pizza
Too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure drastically, so don’t be surprised if you’re recommended to cut back on the booze.
Alcohol can also prevent any blood pressure medication you may be taking from working properly through drug interactions.
In addition, many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and calories, meaning too much of it can contribute to obesity, which in turn increases the risk of hypertension.
If cutting back on alcohol is a difficult feat for you, talk to your GP or doctor about what your options are.
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