High blood pressure: The key food component to lower your reading – ‘essential’

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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Apart from being crucial for your body and its functions, potassium is also able to retrieve your blood pressure levels from the red zone. Eating potassium-rich foods can even counter the effects of sodium – known for raising your levels. Here’s how it works, according to a charity.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the predecessor of severe health problems, ranging from heart attacks to strokes.

That’s why it’s important to retrieve your levels from the danger zone.

Potassium has two mechanisms that come into play when you’re trying to bust your high blood pressure.

The first one comes down to water retention.

The reason why salt is such a great offender for your blood pressure reading is that it makes your body hold onto extra water.

This extra fluid puts extra pressure on your blood vessels, boosting your reading.

This is where potassium steps in. Blood Pressure UK explains that to remove extra fluid from your body, you need a fine balance of potassium and sodium.

When you eat more foods rich in this mineral, you can help to restore this balance.

This allows your kidneys to work well and lower blood pressure.

The second mechanism focuses on relaxing your blood vessels, which consequently helps to lower your reading, the Harvard Medical School details.

Furthermore, research has shown a link between potassium intake and higher blood pressure.

“On the flip side, people who already have high blood pressure can significantly lower their systolic (top number) blood pressure by increasing their potassium intake when they choose to eat healthy foods,” the school adds.

To meet your daily target for this mineral, you need 3,500mg of potassium a day, according to the NHS.

Fortunately, you should be able to get all the potassium you need from your diet.

Fruits and vegetables are the obvious choices. Plus, they also pack vitamins and fibre, which generally help to keep up your good health.

According to Blood Pressure UK, the options that are “particularly high” in the mineral are:

  • Tomato juice and tomato puree
  • Orange juice
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Currants
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Sprouts.

However, fruits and veg aren’t the only sources of potassium. The charity adds these options to the potassium-containing foods:

  • Tuna – fresh, frozen or tinned (opt for tuna tinned in spring water rather than brine, as brine contains salt)
  • Salmon
  • Yoghurt
  • Fat-free milk
  • Eggs
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Almonds
  • Mushrooms
  • Bran
  • Wheatgerm
  • Wholemeal pasta.

While it might be tempting to take potassium supplements to boost your intake, the NHS warns not to take too much as it could pose harm.

It shares that taking 3,700mg or less of this supplement is “unlikely” to have harmful effects.

However, it adds that older people shouldn’t take potassium supplements unless specifically instructed by their doctor.

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