Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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Hypertension is quite common in the UK, with around a third of all adults thought to have the condition. It can be potentially dangerous as it puts strain on your organs such as the heart and brain. One expert spoke with Express.co.uk about an unusual fruit that can “significantly” lower your reading.
Doctor Evie Kemp, from Haskapa, explained the benefits of haskap berries.
She said: “Large population studies have shown that high anthocyanin diets (haskap berries have four times the amount of these compared to blueberries) has been associated with reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure.
“Anthocyanins are thought to act on the cardiovascular system via a combination of mechanisms including increasing production of a chemical called nitric oxide, which can dilate blood vessels, helping to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure.
“Dietary anthocyanin intake around the world ranges from three mg to 43mg per day and in general is higher in southern European countries compared to northern European countries such as the UK.”
Haskap berries are an edible blue honeysuckle, found in countries such as Canada, Japan and Russia.
They can be consumed as a berry but are also popular as a powder to be used in smoothies, breakfast cereal, porridge and yoghurt.
Doctor Kemp advised how much of the fruit should be eaten.
“Although there is no recommended daily intake for anthocyanins, it is thought that many adults do not consume enough, and a recent review paper suggested we should eat 50mg a day for optimal benefit,” she said.
“So we all need to eat more of the red, blue and purple end of the rainbow.”
The study she refers to was conducted by researchers from Reading University and published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2019.
It compared the consumption of three haskap berry doses and placebo in older adults.
The results showed improvements in memory and lower diastolic blood pressure, with higher haskap doses being more effective.
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Blood pressure is measured by two numbers, the systolic pressure (the higher number) and diastolic pressure (lower).
High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) 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.
Hypertension can also put you at risk of heart disease, heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, aortic aneurysms and vascular dementia.
Risk factors of developing high blood pressure include:
- Not eating enough fruit and vegetables
- Drinking too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- Being aged over 65
- Having a relative with high blood pressure
- Being of black African or black Caribbean descent
- Living in a deprived area.
To lower your chances of having the condition the NHS advises:
- Reducing the amount of salt you eat and having a generally healthy diet
- Cutting back on alcohol
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Exercising regularly
- Cutting down on caffeine
- Stopping smoking.
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