High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure is when your blood pressure – the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels – is consistently too high. Over time, the force and friction of high blood pressure damages the delicate tissues inside the arteries, explains the American Heart Association (AHA). This can cause a tear in the walls that allows plaque to enter and clog up the arteries, laying the groundwork for a heart attack.
Fortunately you can stop this deadly mechanism in its tracks by making healthy dietary tweaks.
Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition found a glass of orange juice can help to lower your reading.
The blood pressure-lowering benefits derive from a flavonoid found in citrus fruits called hesperidin.
Flavonoids are a large family of plant compounds and hesperidin is a specific flavonoid found in orange peels.
According to the research published in the European Journal of Nutrition, hesperidin, in particular, may help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
This understanding prompted the researchers to investigate the blood-pressure lowering benefits of consuming a glass of orange juice.
To gather their findings, 159 study participants, who were either hypertensive or pre-hypertensive adults, were divided into three groups.
Participants in each group drank 500 mL (approximately two cups) a day of either 100 percent orange juice, 100 percent orange juice enriched hesperidin, or a control drink with the same calories, vitamin C and citric acid content of orange juice.
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Participants who consumed either orange juice or enriched orange juice experienced a similar decrease in systolic blood pressure: an average of a 6.35 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) decrease for orange juice and 7.36 mmHg decrease for enriched orange juice.
What do these numbers mean?
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Systolic blood pressure – the first, or top, number – is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats, forcing blood around your body.
What’s more, study researchers also found that consuming orange juice for 12 weeks – whether fortified with hesperidin or not – resulted in a decrease in blood homocysteine; a biomarker of heart disease, as well as a reduction in inflammation.
To reap the benefits from drinking orange juice, there are some important considerations.
Unsweetened fruit juice counts, but only as one portion no matter how much you drink due to the calorie content, advises Blood Pressure UK.
“Because they are high in calories without filling you up, and the sugar can damage your teeth,” warns the health body.
It is important to watch calories because consuming too many calories can promote weight gain.
As the NHS explains, being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure.
Staying active can maximise the benefits of eating well while helping to maintain a healthy weight.
In addition to aiding weight loss, regular exercise brings direct benefits for heart health.
The NHS explains: “Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.”
UK health guidelines advise adults to do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
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