Food can play a vital role in the task of lowering blood pressure, due to the importance of salt and weight in the battle. There are a few ‘high blood pressure’ diets, but these can be hard to stick too, and it’s much better to simply adapt your own diet to meet your own needs! You’ll be more likely to stick to it if the differences between it and your own diet are minimal. Here are the foods you should include, to keep your blood pressure low...
1. Lean Cuts of Meat
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Lean cuts of meats such as chicken and turkey (with the skin removed!) are a good choice, as they don’t contain much salt or fat and will boost your protein levels. They will also keep you feeling full, and make excellent main meals. Remember to consider sauces and marinades, though, as some contain a surprising amount of salt!
2. Skimmed Milk
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Drinking milk has obvious benefits, such as healthier bones and teeth, and increased calcium levels, but whole milk has a lot of fat in it. For drinking milk or having it on cereal, use skimmed milk, but semi skimmed is okay in very small does, eg for putting some in your tea. There is a slight flavour change, but you get used to it quite fast, even if it feels like you never will!
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Bread is very filling, and is an excellent source of carbohydrates. Think about the different types, loaves, rolls, bagels, pitta bread, English muffins etc, and pick a few that you like so that you don’t get bored. Make sure you do check the salt allowance, though, as some presliced breads can contain very high salt compared to others. Homemade is the best, however, and there are some great low-salt bread recipes online if you fancy trying to make your own!
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Try to add as many vegetables to your diet as you can, and they will boost your overall health and they tend to be quite filling. Fresh is always the best, but you don’t have long to use it and it can be the most expensive way. Frozen vegetables are okay too, but should be checked to see if salt has been added to preserve. If you really struggle to involve vegetables, try finding recipes that ‘hide’ them in a marinade or sauce, which is what I do!
5. Margarine and Vegetable Oil
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While your diet should cut out as many saturated fats as possible, make sure you are still getting monosaturates, as these are important to your diet and will help you to fight cholesterol. Margarine and vegetable oil are excellent and easy ways to get this fat if you don’t already have it in your diet, and can be used to prepare most meals. Some crisps also include some monosaturates.
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Soup is an easy and convenient snack, that can often help you to get your five a day, too. But some soups contain alot of salt, which means they won’t be good for your blood pressure. Look out for reduced sodium soups, or make your own! It’s shockingly easy and you can add the ingredients you love. Plus, most recipes are freezable, meaning you can make it in bulk and use it as necessary.
7. Spinach, Unsalted Sunflower Seeds, Beans
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These foods are all packed full of magnesium, which is a key ingredient in lowering and maintaining blood pressures. There is also a high amount of potassium, which is good at fighting high blood pressure, and they all make excellent side courses to meat. There are hundreds of recipes for them, so give them a try before you write them off...they are so good for you, it’ll be worth the attempt!
8. Dark Chocolate
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Mmm, this is definitely my favourite! Eating around half an ounce of dark chocolate per day has been scientifically linked to lowering blood pressure, without weight gain or any other negative effects. Dark chocolate is also full of anti oxidants, which are great for your body. So now you’ve got a great excuse!
Remember to keep a record of how much salt you’ve had every time you eat, and add it up to make sure you don’t exceed the recommended allowance. While some salt is necessary, too much can have consequences, and if you’ve already got high blood pressure it will make this much worse. Do you know a food that’s great for lowering the blood pressure? Please let me know!
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