THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR
in reducing blood pressure is diet. Dietary risk factors for high blood pressure include being obese and having a diet with a high sodium-to-potassium ratio or one that is low in fibre and high in sugar and saturated fats. A low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C can also lead to high blood pressure, as can excessive caffeine intake. The dietary factor that has received the most attention is salt intake. Between 40 and 60 per cent of people with high blood pressure are sensitive to salt. Research suggests they should reduce their salt intake to less than two grams a day. As well as reducing the amount of salt you add to food, watch out for sodium in most packaged foods and many fresh foods such as breads and cakes. It is also found naturally in some foods. Lifestyle strategies such as exercise and weight management help to reduce blood pressure. Some people experience an increase in blood pressure when they feel stressed. Relaxation techniques and stress management can help. Magnesium, vitamin E, essential fatty acids and coenzyme Q10 supplements have all been shown to reduce blood pressure. It is dependent on the dose, though, so have a thorough review with a health professional.