High blood pressure: The ‘salty six’ foods to avoid or risk deadly high blood pressure
High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it. It is therefore important to get your blood pressure regularly checked. All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years. This can be done with a home kit or in your surgery.
It is not always clear what causes high blood pressure and symptoms can be nondescript, but there are things that can increase your risk.
According to the NHS, you might be more at risk if you:
- Are overweight
- Eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
- Do not do enough exercise
- Drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- Do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
- Are over 65
- Have a relative with high blood pressure
- Are of black African or black Caribbean descent
- Live in a deprived area.
Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
If you have high blood pressure, or want to decrease your chances of developing it, you can make some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle to combat it.
Changing your diet is one of the most effective ways to bring down your blood pressure, though your doctor may also prescribe you medication.
What you eat, as well as how often you exercise and whether you are overweight, can determine your risk of high blood pressure.
Like any diet, however, you will have to leave some foods behind that are not going to do your heart any favours.
Avoiding salt or sodium will help dramatically in lowering your blood pressure.
Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood.
Table salt is around 40 percent sodium. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium – the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt – a day.
Most of the sodium in our diets comes from packaged, processed food rather than what you add at the table. Sodium may be hidden in unexpected places.
The following foods, known as the “salty six”, are major contributors to people’s daily salt intake:
- Breads and rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats
- Burritos and tacos.
As mentioned, processed deli and lunch meats are often packed with sodium. This is due to the fact that manufacturers cure, season, and preserve these meats with salt.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) database, just two slices of bologna contain 910 mg of sodium. One frankfurter, or hot dog, contains 567 mg.
Adding other high-salt foods, such as bread, cheese, various condiments, and pickles, means that a sandwich can become loaded with sodium without you realising.
Further, the difference between cooking a normal or frozen pizza can be down to more than just the taste. The combination of ingredients in frozen pizzas means they are high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium, according to Food Data Central. Frozen pizza can also have especially high levels of sodium.
Cheese is often high in sodium, with just two slices of cheese containing 512 mg of sodium. This is generally in combination with a salty or sugary pizza dough and crust, cured meats, and tomato sauce. To maintain flavour in the pizza once it has been cooked, manufacturers often add a lot of salt.
One 12 inch pepperoni pizza, cooked from frozen, contains 3,140 mg of sodium, well above the daily limit of 2,300 mg. As a substitute, homemade healthy pizzas, using homemade dough, low-sodium cheese and vegetables as toppings can keep your blood pressure down and not stop you from eating what you love.
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