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Foods that impact blood pressure

June 12, 2020
Mark Killick
Setting sun in the shape of a heart

High blood pressure is a worldwide issue with around 25% of the population being diagnosed with hypertension, often caused by poor lifestyle choices. This puts a huge strain on our under-pressure healthcare system.

High blood pressure leads to an increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular disease and is a marker of metabolic syndrome. There are several dietary and lifestyle factors that play a part in the progression of this disease. These factors include a lack of physical exercise, obesity and stress.

The type of foods that you eat can also have a profound impact on blood pressure. Certain minerals that we get from foods including sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium help regulate the pressure inside of the blood vessels. Imbalances in these minerals can negatively affect the regulation of blood vessel contraction or relaxation, or cause the blood to retain too much water, increasing blood volume.

The constriction of blood vessels and the increased blood volume causes blood pressure to rise, as its harder for the blood to circulate. This puts a strain on the heart and arteries. Alcohol and caffeine are two examples that affect hormones causing blood vessels to constrict.

Inflammation in the blood vessel walls can result in plaque deposits in the arterial walls that cause obstruction and narrowing, resulting in higher blood pressure. Diets high in sugar and trans fats are a common cause of this inflammation.

Foods to avoid for healthy blood pressure

  • Sugar

    A diet high in sugar leads to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and inflammation and can help cause high blood pressure. It is a leading cause of inflammation within blood vessels. It’s not just added granulated sugar that causes a problem but also sugar from honey, maple syrup, palm sugar and fizzy drinks. Eating a lot of high sugar fruits such as mango and pineapple will raise blood sugar considerably as will starchy foods like bread, pasta and potatoes.
  • Fried or takeaway foods

    Fats used for frying foods can become damaged which contributes to inflammation and damage within blood vessels. This is very common with takeaway foods. Keep takeaways like Chinese, curries and fish and chips to a minimum. Better still experiment with a few of your favourite recipes at home.
  • Processed Meats

    Meats like ham, bacon, salami and sausages contain high levels of sodium and trans fats. So, try replacing these with unprocessed meats and poultry.
  • Processed Ready Meals

    Ready meals may seem convenient but can have a negative effect on blood pressure. They are often laden with trans fats, additives and sodium. Try cooking using whole foods rather than relying on tinned soups, pizza, bakery products, crisps and crackers.
  • Artificial sweeteners

    Artificial sweeteners include aspartame, sucralose and saccharin. Although they have zero calories they can increase appetite, cause weight gain and cause an insulin response like sugar in the body. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
  • Alcohol

    A high intake of alcohol over the long term can increase inflammation and damage blood vessels. It can also stimulate stress hormones resulting in an increase in blood pressure.

Making small changes to the types of food you eat can have significant benefits on blood pressure and reduce the risk of further health complications. Besides omitting some foods, there are other foods that can have a positive effect on blood pressure.

For more information on how you can reduce your blood pressure using diet and lifestyle, email me or call 07768 261989