Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
High blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension, is a common condition that can raise your risk of serious health complications.
It is thought around a quarter of all adults in the UK are living with high blood pressure, although many might not be aware.
This is because it is often symptomless and a test is needed to be sure of your exact levels.
Being unaware of your blood pressure is potentially dangerous though, as high levels put you at greater risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attacks and kidney disease among other conditions.
One of the major causes of high blood pressure is diet. However, while certain foods can raise your blood pressure others can lower it.
One popular food proven to have blood pressure-lowering properties is avocado.
The green fruit, often eaten on toast or with eggs as a breakfast meal, is rich in many health-boosting nutrients.
A new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, recognised this and tested its effect on healthy women.
“Avocado is a fruit rich in dietary fibre, potassium, Mg, mono and PUFA and bioactive phytochemicals, which are nutritional components that have been associated with cardiovascular health,” it said.
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As part of the research, a team analysed data on more than 67,000 women aged 25 or older.
They recorded how much avocado they ate each week and how many cases of hypertension there were over an average follow-up period of two years.
In that time, 4,000 cases of high blood pressure were noted, while the average avocado consumption was one serving (half an avocado) per week.
It concluded that eating five or more servings of avocado per week yielded the best results in terms of lowering blood pressure.
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The study said: “After adjustment for confounding, consuming five or more servings per week of avocado was associated with a 17 percent decrease in the rate of hypertension, compared with non- or low consumers.
“Frequent consumption of avocado was associated with a lower incidence of hypertension.”
Avocados and potassium
Potassium is an essential mineral known to help lower blood pressure levels.
This is because it both helps the body to remove sodium (one cause of high blood pressure) and relaxes blood vessel walls.
The American Heart Association explains: “The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine.
“Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure.
“Increasing potassium through diet is recommended in adults with blood pressure above 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mm/Hg) who are otherwise healthy.”
Avocados are rich in potassium, with one fruit containing 690mg. For comparison a standard banana contains 422mg of potassium.
If you are concerned about your blood pressure you should speak to your GP.
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