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18 ways to keep blood pressure in check

18 ways to keep blood pressure in check
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You can’t see it, you can’t feel it and, unless you get it checked, you won’t even know you have it. That makes high blood pressure, or hypertension, a quiet killer, one that slowly damages your blood vessels, heart and eyes while simultaneously increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and kidney disease. Could you be at risk of high blood pressure and not know it? The following tips will help to lower high blood pressure, or keep it from rising if it’s at a healthy level.

1. Every morning, take a brisk 15-minute walk

1. Every morning, take a brisk 15-minute walk
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Amazingly, you don’t need a lot of exercise to make a difference to your blood pressure.

When Japanese researchers asked 168 inactive volunteers with high blood pressure to exercise at a health club for different amounts of time each week for eight weeks, blood pressure levels dropped almost as much in those who exercised for 30 to 90 minutes a week as in those who exercised for more than 90 minutes a week.

Did you know that moderate-intensity activity, such as going for a brisk walk, releases ‘happy hormones’? The sort that reduce stress and make you feel like you are on holiday.

2. Write ‘take medication’ on your calendar every day

2. Write ‘take medication’ on your calendar every day
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Twenty-five per cent of the time, when your blood pressure hasn’t gone down after you’ve been prescribed medication, the reason is that you’ve forgotten to take your pills.

Medication only works if you take it. Here are four reasons why it’s important to stick with what the doctor orders.

3. Buy a home blood-pressure kit

3. Buy a home blood-pressure kit
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A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that home blood-pressure testing can provide a better overall picture of blood pressure levels than readings in a doctor’s surgery.

In the study, surgery readings failed to identify 13 per cent of patients who had high blood pressure only when measured in the surgery (white-coat hypertension), and 9 per cent who had high blood pressure at home but not in the surgery.

In addition, a study presented at the 2004 European Society of Hypertension meeting found that people who monitored their blood pressure at home had lower overall blood pressure than those who had their pressure taken only at the doctor’s surgery.

These days, taking one’s own health seriously and monitoring it is important. Three DIY health checks to help you catch other potential problems early.

4. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of linseed on your morning yoghurt

4. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of linseed on your morning yoghurt
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Mix 2 tablespoons into your ice-cream, soup, pasta sauce or other food later in the day.

One small study found that adding 4 tablespoons of the seeds significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) in postmenopausal women with a history of heart disease.

Linseeds are rich in many nutrients and in fibre.

So what’s so good about fibre?

5. Drink tea instead of coffee

5. Drink tea instead of coffee
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An Australian study found that each 1-cup increase in daily tea consumption decreased systolic blood pressure by 2 points and diastolic pressure by 1 point.

But the benefits ended after 4 cups.

Different teas have very distinct characteristics, which can affect not only how they are drunk, but at what time of day.

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6. Dip corn chips in guacamole

6. Dip corn chips in guacamole
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Why? Avocados have more blood pressure-lowering potassium than any other fruit or vegetable, including bananas.

We should get about 3500 mg a day of potassium, but one in three women usually gets just half this amount.

Here are links to some more delicious avocado recipes:
Papaya and avocado salad

Roasted tomato, cannellini bean and avocado salad with pan-fried eggs

Chilled leek and avocado soup​

7. Satisfy a sweet tooth with dark chocolate

7. Satisfy a sweet tooth with dark chocolate
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Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids that keep your arteries flexible, preventing the increases in pressure that come with stiffer blood vessels.

That’s thought to be one reason for the normal blood pressure of a tribe of indigenous Panamanians who eat a high-salt diet but also consume massive amounts of cocoa.

In addition, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 85 g of dark chocolate a day helped to lower blood pressure in older people with isolated systolic hypertension (when only the upper number of a pressure reading is high).

Other good sources of flavonoids include tea and wine, as well as many fruits and vegetables.

Chocolate (in moderation of course) may also be good for your brain.

8. Snack on soy nuts for a crunchy, nutrient-packed munch

8. Snack on soy nuts for a crunchy, nutrient-packed munch
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Studies show that people with high blood pressure can lower their systolic readings by an average of 10 points by eating 30 g of soy nuts (roasted soybeans) a day for two weeks.

The beans are available at some supermarkets and health food shops. Make sure you buy them unsalted.

Spiced fruit, nuts and seeds make for another healthy snack.

9. Flavour food with lots of pepper

9. Flavour food with lots of pepper
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Why? Pepper is a strong, dominant flavour that can help you to reduce your taste for salt.

Without salt, meals may seem bland for a couple of days, but your taste buds can easily be retrained.

Add more pepper and, if that doesn’t appeal, try garlic, lemon, ginger, basil or other spicy flavours you enjoy.

After a week, old favourite foods will taste extremely oversalted and your blood pressure will be singing your praises.

Spices related to ginger such as tumeric and cardamom are not hard to grow in your garden.

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