High blood pres­sure? Try these foods

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

Q: I re­cently found out that I have high blood pres­sure. Are there any foods that can help with this? Thanks, Greg

There are many life­style fac­tors that can in­flu­ence blood pres­sure, and diet is cer­tainly one of these.

There are a few dif­fer­ent di­etary pat­terns that are as­so­ci­ated with low­ered blood pres­sure, but the com­mon thread among these is a high plant con­sump­tion – plenty of veg­eta­bles as well as some nuts and seeds, fruit and whole­grains (for peo­ple who di­gest these well).

There are also cer­tain nu­tri­ents that have been shown to af­fect blood pres­sure.


Blood pres­sure is es­sen­tially a mea­sure of the re­sis­tance in the blood ves­sels to the flow of blood, so it is in­flu­enced by the di­am­e­ter of our blood ves­sels. Mag­ne­sium has a re­lax­ing ac­tion and helps to reg­u­late blood pres­sure by min­imis­ing con­stric­tion of the blood ves­sels. Food sources of

Ask Dr Libby

Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to askdr­libby@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz. Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered. mag­ne­sium in­clude green leafy veg­eta­bles, nuts and seeds.


In­creas­ing potas­sium in­take has been shown to re­duce blood pres­sure in peo­ple with hy­per­ten­sion. Potas­sium is found in many fruits and veg­eta­bles, with av­o­cado, ba­nana and sweet potato be­ing par­tic­u­larly potas­sium-rich.

Potas­sium ex­cre­tion can be im­paired in some med­i­cal con­di­tions (such as chronic kid­ney dis­ease) so if you have any med­i­cal con­di­tions, it’s im­por­tant to con­sult your qual­i­fied med­i­cal pro­fes­sional be­fore mak­ing di­etary changes.


There is good ev­i­dence that re­duc­ing sodium (salt) in­take can help to lower blood pres­sure. How­ever, the im­pact of this can vary from per­son to per­son – some peo­ple are more ‘‘salt­sen­si­tive’’ than oth­ers.

When con­sid­er­ing their salt in­take, many peo­ple think of the salt they add at the din­ner ta­ble, but the big­gest contributor to sodium in­take for peo­ple liv­ing in Western coun­tries tends to be ‘‘hid­den salt’’ in pro­cessed foods.

Salt isn’t ‘‘bad’’ – our body re­quires a cer­tain amount of sodium to func­tion prop­erly – it’s just that when we re­place real whole foods with pro­cessed foods, we can tip the bal­ance of our elec­trolytes (in­clud­ing sodium, potas­sium and mag­ne­sium) in the wrong di­rec­tion. Choose real whole foods.


Reg­u­lar and/or ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of al­co­hol is as­so­ci­ated with el­e­vated blood pres­sure. This is re­gard­less of the type of al­co­hol. Com­mit to hav­ing no more than two stan­dard drinks per day and at least two al­co­hol­free days per week, or bet­ter yet, save it to en­joy in moder­a­tion on spe­cial oc­ca­sions only.

So by amp­ing up your in­take of plant foods, par­tic­u­larly plenty of veg­eta­bles, and avoid­ing pro­cessed foods and drinks, the bal­ance of nu­tri­ents that you con­sume will bet­ter sup­port your body to reg­u­late your blood pres­sure.

High blood pres­sure can also be a re­sult of stress, so ad­dress­ing sources of stress and in­clud­ing stress re­duc­tion prac­tices can also be im­por­tant. In­cor­po­rat­ing more move­ment into your day is also very ben­e­fi­cial for blood pres­sure.

Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. See dr­libby.com


In­creas­ing potas­sium in­take from foods like ba­nanas has been shown to re­duce blood pres­sure in peo­ple with hy­per­ten­sion.

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