High blood pressure describes what happens when the blood in a person’s body pushes against the sides of the blood vessels.
If blood pressure is consistently high, it puts extra strain on vital organs.
Over time this can cause a wealth of serious health complications.
Fortunately, making lifestyle tweaks can bring blood pressure levels back to normal healthy levels.
Reducing salt intake is one of the main ways to mitigate the risks, but surprisingly, a new National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute study showed that people who consumed more low-fat dairy products like fat free and low-fat milk had lower blood pressure too.
The study, published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, examined the habits of almost five thousand men and women.
The researchers found that those who consumed more than three servings of milk and dairy products per day were 36 per cent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who ate the least amount of dairy, less than half a serving per day.
Low-fat dairy products, such as fat-free and low-fat milk, may be the best choices to reap the blood pressure benefits.
Study participants who ate three servings of dairy a day that also limited their saturated fat intake were 54 per cent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who ate a low-saturated fat diet with less dairy.
Interestingly, a recent UK study also suggested that drinking CherryActive, a Montmorency tart cherry juice supplement, may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, major risk factors associated with high blood pressure.
Lead author Terun Desai commented, “Our most noteworthy cardiovascular response observed in the study was the significant reduction in systolic blood pressure for the first two hours after consumption.
“The unique composition of tart cherries, including the synergistic influence of anthocyanins, other polyphenols, and fibre may be a factor.”
Desaid added, “Global rates of metabolic syndrome are on the rise and the results of the present study suggest Montmorency tart cherries, in juice or capsule form, could exert beneficial effects for adults with this condition when incorporated into an overall healthy diet” (2).
The research found a “significant” reduction in systolic blood pressure two hours after consumption when compared to placebo.
According to the NHS, other ways to settle a soaring blood pressure include:
- Cut back on alcohol
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Exercise regularly
- Cut down on caffeine
- Stop smoking
- Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep a night
It is important to have routine check-ups to monitor your blood pressure reading. High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80). People over the age of 40 should get their blood pressure checked at least every 5 years.
A number of places offer a blood pressure test, such as a local GP surgery or at some pharmacies. It can also be conducted at home. Doing it at home brings unique benefits, as the health body explained: “Like 24-hour or ambulatory monitoring, this can give a better reflection of your blood pressure.
“It can also allow you to monitor your condition more easily in the long term.
“You can buy a variety of low-cost monitors so you can test your blood pressure at home or while you’re out and about.”