High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce dangers
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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the precursor to life-threatening emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes. Characterised as “silent”, this condition often doesn’t cause many warning signs. But what you eat plays a key role in your levels.
While cereal bars represent a tasty and simple snack to have on the go, your blood pressure levels might not be so appreciative of them.
Whether you pop your bar into your bag for later or start your day with this popular breakfast option, eating cereal bars could lead to hypertension.
Blood Pressure UK shares that these “seemingly healthy” snacks are often packed with lots of added sugar.
It explains that exactly these added sugars in the favourite breakfast option can lead to high blood pressure.
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The charity pins it all down to weight gain. It pens: “Foods with added sugar tend to be high in calories but often provide very little or no nutritional value.
“The extra energy can make you gain weight which can raise your blood pressure.”
However, Mark Gilbert, Commercial Nutritionist at The1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan, explained there’s more to the popular breakfast bars and the silent condition.
Mr Gilbert said: “Cereal bars vary somewhat in their nutritional content, but most are primarily made of refined carbohydrate.
“A comparison of these bars, by Diabetes UK, found that they can contain up to 40 percent sugar and 70 percent carbs (by weight). Just as importantly though, they are typically low in protein.
“So there are at least two problems here.
“Firstly, the combination of sugar and refined carbs means these bars can often have a high glycaemic load, meaning they cause a large spike in blood sugar.
“This glycaemic load is associated with high blood pressure.
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“According to a large review of research done on this topic, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, higher glycaemic load diets are associated with higher blood pressure, leading the authors to conclude that a lower glycaemic diet may lead to important reductions in blood pressure.”
However, the high glycaemic content isn’t the only issue as the expert shared that the lack of protein could also be problematic.
He said: “If you are overweight or trying to avoid gaining weight, high-protein breakfast will keep you feeling fuller throughout the day and you are likely to eat less.
“Also, protein, as compared to carbs and fat, increases the metabolic rate significantly more, leaving fewer calories available to be stored as excess fat.”
However, the expert shared you don’t have to go ditching cereal bars altogether.
Mr Gilbert said: “So if you are choosing to eat a cereal bar, find one that is high in protein – aim for 20 grams of protein as a minimum at breakfast – and try to find one with minimal sugar and that ideally has oats as the primary carb source.
“Oats are absorbed more slowly than most other carbs you are likely to find in cereal bars.”
Blood Pressure UK also recommends checking the label and looking for anything that ends in “ose” or is labelled as syrup as this will represent an added sugar.
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