High blood pressure happens when the first of blood pushing against a person’s artery walls is consistently too high. Over time, the force and friction of high blood pressure damages the delicate tissues inside the arteries. This can lead to deadly cardiovascular complications. Fortunately, making simple dietary tweaks can lower a person’s reading, including eating a certain superfood.
People taking a placebo had slightly increased systolic blood pressure
Flax seed has long been a staple in European and Asian cuisines. According to a Canadian study published in the journal Hypertension, people who added 30 grams of ground flax seed to their diet every day for six months saw their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) drop an average 15 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) an average eight mm Hg.
By comparison, people taking a placebo supplement had slightly increased systolic blood pressure while diastolic pressure remained steady.
A drop in systolic blood pressure is significant.
As Blood Pressure UK noted, systolic blood pressure – the highest blood pressure when the heart is squeezing and pushing the blood round the body – provides the best indicator of a person’s risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.
The study researchers said the level of blood pressure decrease from adding flax seed could result in 50 percent less strokes and 30 percent less heart attacks.
Echoing these findings, a large review looking at data from 11 studies found that taking flax seeds daily for more than three months lowered blood pressure by two mmHg.
While that may seem insignificant, evidence shows that a two mmHg reduction in blood pressure can lower the risk of dying from stroke by 10 percent and from heart disease by seven percent.
The health benefits of eating flax seeds may be due to the fact that it is a rich source of fibre.
As the NHS points out, eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables helps lower blood pressure.
“Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day,” advised the health body.
In addition to upping fibre, fruit and vegetable intake, cutting down on the amount of salt one consumes also helps to keep blood pressure in check.
The NHS recommends people aim to eat less than six grams (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful.
Exercise also plays an integral role in blood pressure control. As Harvard Health explained: “A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.”
According to the health site, regular exercise can lower a person’s systolic blood pressure by an average of four to nine millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
“That’s as good as some blood pressure medications,” it added.
According to the NHS, adults should do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
Find out the best drinks to lower blood pressure.
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