Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is usually diagnosed when a person’s blood pressure exceeds 140/90mmHg, or 150/90mmHg or higher if over the age of 80. This sometimes serious condition can be caused by a number of things, but one key driving force is how much salt a person consumes in their daily diet.
Cutting down on how much salt you eat is “one of the simplest ways to lower your blood pressure”, according to Blood Pressure UK.
They explained: “Salt makes your body hold onto water.
“If you eat too much, the extra water in your blood means there is extra pressure on your blood vessel walls, raising your blood pressure.
“If you already have high blood pressure, too much salt will raise it further, and may mean that any blood pressure medicines you’re taking don’t work as well as they should.”
In fact, reducing your sodium intake can make a difference “very quickly, even within weeks”, according to the blood pressure charity.
How much salt is recommended daily?
According to the NHS, adults should eat no more than six grams of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around one teaspoon.
If you are eating more than this, you should be sure to double-check the sodium levels of packet foods and reconsider how much additional salt you add to your home-cooked meals.
Salt can sometimes be a very sneaky ingredient, especially in pre-packaged foods, and you might be surprised by how much sodium is in some goods.
The NHS explains: “You don’t have to add salt to your food to eat too much of it – around 75 percent of the salt we eat is in everyday foods we buy, such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.”
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Over-salting food can also be the cause of habit, with many people reaching for the salt cellar before even tasting their meal.
The NHS advises: “Remember, whether you’re eating at home, cooking or eating out, don’t add salt to your food automatically – taste it first.”
Certain condiments can also add unnecessary levels of salt to your meals.
This includes items such as soy sauce, mustard, pickles and mayonnaise, often high in added sodium.
What are the risks of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, carries a number of risks that can be fatal.
One of the worrying things about high blood pressure is that it often has no immediate symptoms – leading it to be referred to as a “silent killer”.
If blood pressure is not controlled, it can lead to heart attacks or stroke, an increased risk of aneurysms, heart failure, weakened and narrowed blood vessels, particularly around the kidneys, metabolic synod and thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eye resulting in vision loss.
In some cases, high blood pressure has also been associated with dementia or trouble with memory and understanding.
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