Health & Diet

Hypertension diet: Five mistakes you might be making – how to lower your blood pressure

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Hypertension affects one in three adults in the UK, yet more than five million Brits are living undiagnosed. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet is the best way to reduce high blood pressure, but can a quick-fix health overhaul really help? Extreme dieting is just one trend that could be doing more harm than good when it comes to stabilising your blood pressure – but what else could be hindering your progress?

Living with high blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, though many cases go unnoticed.

Hypertension doesn’t typically have any symptoms, so it is important to check your blood pressure regularly in order to stay clued-up on your heart health.

Leading a poor lifestyle with little exercise and an unhealthy diet is one of the leading causes of hypertension as cholesterol levels build up around the arteries.

Changing your lifestyle quickly is essential to combat high blood pressure, but taking weight loss and healthy living to the extremes could result in slow progress and continue to damage your cardiovascular system.

Getting the hypertension diet right is crucial to safely reduce your blood pressure, so which methods should be avoided?

Vaping instead of smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of hypertension due to the high concentration of nicotine in tobacco products.

Each cigarette can contribute to increased blood pressure, a raised heart rate and narrowing arteries.

Vaping is often seen as a healthier alternative to this damaging habit, but the problem ingredient is still present.

E-cigarettes heat nicotine flavourings and other chemicals to create the vapour which is inhaled.

While there is no doubt vaping exposes smokers to fewer toxic chemicals, the presence of nicotine can still raise your blood pressure and cause a spike in adrenaline.

An increased heart rate and the risk of having a heart attack are both significantly increased by vaping, even if it is less so than smoking.

Eating late in the evening

Eating well is as much about timing as it is about the contents of your plate.

Try to keep your evening meal well away from your bedtime to allow for good digestion and a better night’s sleep.

An American Heart Association study found that late-night eating (after 6pm) can increase the risk of obesity – a known cause of hypertension.

The same study also found that consuming 30 percent or more of your calories after 6pm was associated with a 23 percent increase in hypertension.

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You’re not drinking enough water

Water is an essential ingredient for the body and staying hydrated plays a huge role in weight loss, blood pressure and general health.

When it comes to the hypertension diet, increasing your fluid intake is crucial to avoid dehydration which has been linked to raised blood pressure, says medically accredited website Healthline.

The most common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Infrequent urination
  • Dark urine
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Fatigue

Aim to drink six to eight glasses of water per day to stay hydrated and regulate your blood pressure.

You’re relying on crash diets

Finding your own formula for sustainable weight loss is the key to making long-term improvements to your health if you are carrying excess weight.

Crash diets, fast fixes and speedy slimming programmes may seem like the perfect solution, but heart-healthy eating doesn’t have to mean slashing the calories.

While eating less food and making healthier choices is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, it could damage your heart in the long run.

A 2018 study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), found that the heart fat content of the focus group had risen by 44 percent after just one week on an extremely low-calorie diet.

After eight weeks on the diet, heart fat content and function had improved, though the diet itself is often unsustainable for this period of time.

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