High blood pressure affects around a third of adults in the UK, but many people don’t realise they have it because symptoms are rarely noticeable. If a person’s blood pressure is too high it puts extra train on the blood vessels, and other vital organs such as the heart, brain and kidneys, increasing the risk of serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke.
The exact cause of high blood pressure isn’t known, but there are a number of factors that can raise a person’s risk of developing the condition.
One of these is eating a high amount of salt in your food, because salt raises blood pressure.
So when it comes to prevent or reduce high blood pressure, making changes to your diet is very important.
The NHS recommends cutting down on the amount of salt in your food and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
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Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is important for blood pressure because of they’re rich in a key mineral, potassium.
Blood Pressure UK explains: “Potassium is a key mineral that the body relies on heavily to function properly. It helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt.
“Your kidneys help to control your blood pressure by controlling the amount of fluid stored in your body. The more fluid, the higher your blood pressure.
“Your kidneys do this by filtering your blood and sucking out any extra fluid, which it then stores in your bladder as urine. This process uses a delicate balance of sodium and potassium to pull the water across a wall of cells from the bloodstream into a collecting channel that leads to the bladder.
“Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water. By eating more fruit and vegetables, you will increase your potassium levels and help to restore the delicate balance. This will help your kidneys to work more efficiently – and help to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level.”
So what foods are rich in potassium?
Adults need 3,500mg of potassium a day, and the following foods can contribute largely towards this.
One medium-sized sweet potato contains 541mg of potassium.
They’re also low in fat and a good source of complex carbohydrates and fibre.
One cup of boiled beetroot can give you 518mg of potassium.
The root vegetables also contains nitrates which have been shown to support blood vessel function and overall heart health.
One pomegranate holds 666mg of potassium.
They’re also packed with vitamins C and K, as well as folate, and have a higher protein content than most fruits.