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Keep down the pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects around 30 per cent of the UK’s population according to the NHS. 


As you age, your risk of high blood pressure increases. When your blood pressure is tested you are given two figures. The textbook healthy value for blood pressure is 120/80; however some people are slightly lower or higher and are still completely healthy.

If your blood pressure is on the high end, there are plenty of ways that you can address the issue without resorting to medication. Here are a few simple tips:

1. Exercise
Regular exercise is not only a great way to maintain a healthy weight; “the right kind of exercise is a great way to lower high blood pressure”, says Katherine Jenner from Blood Pressure UK. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity (such as walking), five times a week will help to lower blood pressure and maintain your current weight. For those whose trousers are feeling a little tighter, try taking part in an extra aerobic exercise class (such as swimming, dancing or cycling) twice a week to reap the rewards. However, be sure to avoid intense activity, such as sprinting or weightlifting as it can increase your blood pressure. 

2. Eat a healthy diet
The right balance of nutrients in your diet is an essential contributor in maintaining a low blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and low-fat dairy can help ensure your saturated fat levels and cholesterol remain low; thus leading to lower blood pressure. For those with high blood pressure; drastically reducing your salt intake should be your first priority when it comes to your diet. “Too much salt raises blood pressure so cutting back should be your first priority”, says dietitian Helen Bond. Try flavouring food with garlic or lemon rather than salt, and ditch those ready meals! 

3. Quit Smoking
Smoking immediately raises your blood pressure for many minutes during – and after – each cigarette, which can permanently increase your overall blood pressure and lead to additional serious health problems. Regardless of your age; quitting smoking will help to lower your blood pressure. For more information and advice on how to quit smoking, visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.


4. Supplement it! 
Magnesium – According to Dr Sarah Brewer,” magnesium helps to regulate the flow of potassium [found in bananas and other foods] and sodium across cell-wall”, which contributes to low blood pressure. Magnesium works best when taken in collaboration with calcium. 

Co-enzyme Q10 – Japanese studies have suggested that a daily dose of CoQ10 contributes to lowering blood pressure, and that those with high blood pressure have often been identified with CoQ10 deficiencies. According to Dr Sarah Brewer, “CoQ10 (preferably in the form of Ubiquinol) helps improve the elasticity of artery walls", though naturally able, some might consider a CoQ10 supplement as our natural ability to covert Ubiquinone into Ubiquinol diminishes after the age of 50. 

Garlic – studies have suggested that garlic supplements containing substantial levels of its active ingredient ‘allicin’ have shown to contribute to lowering blood pressure by up to 10 per cent. “Garlic helps dilate small blood vessels” observes Dr Sarah Brewer. 

The Nutrition Expert editorial team compiles articles with the help of Healthspan's experts to answer key questions from our community as well as researching common health topics and news.

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