High blood pressure: Doctor explains benefits of hibiscus tea
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High blood pressure is responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks, and it’s the third biggest risk factor for ALL disease after smoking and poor diet. If you’ve got high blood pressure, it can be tempting to turn a blind eye and hope ‘the silent killer’ condition disappears by itself… but don’t! You can often treat the condition yourself alongside advice from your GP. Express.co.uk reveals seven natural ways to reduce your blood pressure reading.
Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger so it can pump more blood with less effort, therefore lowering your blood pressure.
Losing weight if you’re overweight can also help you reduce your blood pressure, and exercise is a great way to speed up your weight loss.
The Mayo Clinic recommended getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week (or a combination of the two).
Any activity that increases your heart and breathing rates is considered aerobic activity, including active sports such as basketball or tennis, bicycling, climbing stairs, dancing, gardening, including mowing the lawn and raking leaves, jogging, swimming, and walking.
If you have high blood pressure, you should seek your doctor’s advice before you start a new exercise regime, as it could be dangerous to suddenly start exercising rapidly.
Cut back on salt
Salt makes your body hold onto water, and too much water in the blood puts pressure on your vessel walls and raises your blood pressure.
Eating too much salt can also lead to all the health problems high blood pressure causes, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and some types of dementia, so it’s really important to cut back if you have a lot of salt in your diet.
Try not adding salt when you’re cooking, avoiding very salty sauces and flavourings, and always taste your food before you add salt – it might not need it!
You should also cut down on high salt foods such as ketchup and mustard, cheese, bacon, olives, and pickles.
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
According to the Mayo Clinic, having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases.
Binge drinking is drinking four or more drinks within two hours for women, and five or more within two hours for men.
One drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men is considered moderate drinking.
Alcohol can also make you gain weight quickly due to its heavy calorie count, which is not good for your blood pressure either.
The chemicals in cigarettes make the walls of your arteries sticky, causing fatty material to stick to the calls, clog your arteries and reduce the space for blood to flow properly.
This raises your blood pressure, heart rate and lowers the amount of oxygen delivered to your body.
You’re not only increasing your blood pressure when you smoke, you’re increasing your chances of a heart attack or stroke.
There are plenty of NHS services to help you quit smoking for good, read more about those here. NHS stop smoking services help you quit
Taking magnesium supplements or eating lots of magnesium-rich foods can reduce your blood pressure.
According to the experts at Holland and Barrett, US researchers analysing the results of 34 clinical trials, involving over 2,000 people in 2016 found that those who took magnesium were found to have both lower blood pressure and improved blood flow.
This in turn could lower blood pressure.
A previous study by the University of Hertfordshire in 2012 also revealed that not only could magnesium reduce blood pressure, but the effect also increased in line with increased dosage.
In other words, the higher the intake of magnesium, the greater the drop in blood pressure.
The experts at the health store’s site said: “You can find magnesium in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, pumpkin seeds, wholegrain foods like brown bread or porridge, lentils, chickpeas and dark chocolate.”
Foods rich in potassium are also important in managing high blood pressure.
This is because potassium reduces the effects of sodium, so the more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine.
Potassium also eases tension in the blood vessel walls, which can help to lower your blood pressure even further.
All adults should be getting 4,700mg of potassium a day and a medium banana has about 420mg, while half a cup of plain mashed sweet potato has 475mg.
Other potassium-filled foods are apricots and apricot juice, avocados, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk, fat-free yogurt, grapefruit and grapefruit juice, green vegetables, mushrooms, oranges and orange juice, peas, potatoes, raisins and dates, tomatoes and tuna.
Ditch the coffee
Caffeine tends to dramatically increase your blood pressure every time you drink it.
The Mayo Clinic explained: “It’s unclear what causes this spike in blood pressure. The blood pressure response to caffeine differs from person to person.
“Some researchers believe that caffeine could block a hormone that helps keep your arteries widened.
“Others think that caffeine causes your adrenal glands to release more adrenaline, which causes your blood pressure to increase.
“Some people who regularly drink caffeinated beverages have a higher average blood pressure than do those who drink none.
“Others who regularly drink caffeinated beverages develop a tolerance to caffeine. As a result, caffeine doesn’t have a long-term effect on their blood pressure.”
Regardless, cutting back on caffeine should decrease your blood pressure if it’s already high.
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