High blood pressure can quietly damage your body by narrowing your arteries. Over time, this can block the flow of blood around your body, thereby raising your risk of a heart disease. Fortunately, there is ample opportunity to intervene before this mechanism causes harm.
One of the most effective weapons against high blood pressure is to improve your diet.
Evidence suggests a glass of watermelon juice boasts blood pressure-lowering effects. That’s the conclusion of a study published in the journal Nutrients.
The primary objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of fresh watermelon consumption on satiety, postprandial glucose and insulin response (diabetes markers) and excess fat and body weight change after four weeks of intervention in overweight and obese adults.
For the study, 33 overweight or obese subjects consumed watermelon (two cups) or isocaloric (having the same or similar calorific value) low-fat cookies daily for four weeks.
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Relative to cookies, watermelon elicited more “robust satiety responses” (lower hunger, prospective food consumption and desire to eat and greater fullness), the researchers observed.
Watermelon consumption also “significantly” decreased systolic blood pressure, they wrote. Systolic blood pressure is one of the main numbers used to record blood pressure.
The finding is consistent with other studies.
A study led by Florida State University Associate Professor Arturo Figueroa, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, found that watermelon could significantly reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals both at rest and while under stress.
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“The pressure on the aorta and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract,” Professor Figueroa said.
What to avoid
You should cut down on the amount of salt in your food because salt raises your blood pressure, warns the NHS.
Instead, “aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful”, the health body advises.
It adds: “Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.”
The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
As a general guide:
- high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80)
- Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:
- At your GP surgery
- At some pharmacies
- As part of your NHS Health Check
- In some workplaces.