About 25% of adults suffer from high blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, with the risk increasing as you age.
The cause is often unknown but can due to poor diet and lack of exercise. It can also be caused by problems with the kidneys, thyroid and even some medication and foods.
High blood pressure can be dangerous and lead to health risks such as heart disease and stroke so it is important we keep it under control.
So which foods increase blood pressure?
Foods high in salt (or sodium).
These include processed foods such as bacon, ham, sausage, crisps and salted peanuts. But it also can be found in foods you may think of as relatively healthy such as soup and pasta sauce so it is a good idea to always check the label.
Obviously one really good way to reduce your salt intake is not to add it to food during cooking or at the table.
Foods high in saturated fat.
Foods such as meat, cakes, biscuits, butter, cheese and processed foods are high in saturated fat which increases cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a known cause of high blood pressure. A diet high in this type of fat also leads to weight gain which is an additional risk factor for high blood pressure.
Can food lower my blood pressure?
It’s not all bad news though. You can definitely reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by eating a healthier diet.
This includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meats and fish – preferably the oily variety like mackerel and salmon.
If you are missing salt for flavour try herbs and spices.
And if you like spicy food that is great, as many spices are anti-inflammatory and also help reduce blood pressure.
Ginger is particularly good as it thins the blood which automatically lowers blood pressure.
Turmeric, aka curcumin, is another beneficial spice along with garlic which is also anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial so is an all-round good guy.
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to bring down blood pressure as it helps to keep the body alkaline.
Try a tablespoon every day in water with lemon juice – its benefits far outweigh the sharp taste!
Apple cider vinegar has also been shown to help increase weight loss when used as part of a calorie controlled diet and lower cholesterol – both of which contribute to high blood pressure.
Other foods to lower blood pressure are those high in a compound called quercetin. This is found in garlic, onions, leeks and chives.
The bad news is that it is better to eat these foods raw so a good way of eating onions raw is to pickle them in apple cider vinegar.
Garlic cloves marinated in chilli oil are also delicious. And don’t forget the spring onions on your salad.
Finally foods high in potassium are great at balancing sodium levels in the body and supporting heart and blood health.
These include bananas, sweet potato, avocado, butternut squash, apricots and coconut water.