Experts at The Association of UK Dieticians (BDA) pointed out that “dark-fleshed” meat should be eaten once a week to help lower blood pressure readings. Examples include: salmon, pilchards, sardines, mackerel, herring, and trout. All rich in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), these fats help to protect blood vessels from disease.
How common is hypertension?
Hypertension is said to affect one in four British adults, notably influenced by older age.
This is because with older age, blood vessels may not stretch as well as they once did.
While nobody can prevent the passage of time, the BDA assured that dietary changes can help to control blood pressure.
Aside from eating dark-fleshed fish once a week, other recommendations include incorporating more foods high in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fibre.
The BDA explained: “Studies that have shown that eating a balanced diet that includes foods high in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fibre helps to lower blood pressure.”
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Fruit and vegetables are rich in potassium, magnesium, and fibre; the BDA (and NHS) recommendation is to eat at least five portions daily.
Dairy products are also helpful in managing blood pressure levels, but people should opt for low-fat cheese, yoghurts, and semi-skimmed milk.
People are advised to eat between two to three servings of low-fat dairy per day.
In order to help manage blood pressure levels, wholegrain breakfast cereals, breads, brown pasta and rice – twice daily – can help to top up fibre, potassium, and magnesium levels.
Dietary supplements of calcium, magnesium, and potassium are not recommended for reducing blood pressure.
“Consuming more than you need can be harmful,” the BDA cautioned. “Talk to your doctor if you are thinking about taking a supplement.”
People trying to reduce their blood pressure are highly recommended to reduce their salt intake.
Necessary steps include removing salt from the dinner table and not adding salt to any of your meals while cooking – enhancing flavour, instead, by adding herbs and spices.
If you do choose to consume alcohol, it is best to spread your drinking throughout the week (rather than binge drinking) and to drink less than 14 units weekly.
“A good way to reduce alcohol intake is to have several alcohol-free days a week,” the BDA added.
One key way to help lower your blood pressure, in addition to dietary factors, is to be physically active.
People should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.