An estimated 14.4 million UK adults are estimated to have high blood pressure, according to the British Heart Foundation. Although high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can occur for a number of reasons, diet is one factor that could drive it up.
However, diet can also help to reduce the risk of a high blood pressure reading and may even aid in reducing levels.
One vital nutrient which can help in managing high blood pressure is potassium.
This is because potassium lessens the effects of sodium.
According to Blood Pressure UK: “Potassium plays a role in how much fluid is stored in your body, and how much is released in your urine.
“If your body is holding onto water, there will be more fluid in your blood.
“This puts extra pressure against your blood vessels walls, raising your blood pressure.
“Normally, excess fluid is removed from your blood by your kidneys and filtered into the bladder. This process involves a fine balance of sodium and potassium.”
Sodium is the part of salt that can raise blood pressure. People who eat too much sodium in their diet may experience water retention.
According to Blood Pressure UK: “By eating more foods that are high in potassium, you can help to restore the balance, allowing the kidneys to work well and lower your blood pressure.”
However, there is a fine balance between eating enough potassium to benefit your blood pressure and eating too much.
Eating more than the recommended amount of potassium can actually be detrimental, with the risk of heart attack increasing in a worst-case scenario.
According to the NHS: “Adults (19 to 64 years) need 3,500mg of potassium a day.
“You should be able to get all the potassium you need from your daily diet.”
Potassium naturally occurs in a number of foods, but fruit and vegetables are among some of the best sources.
People should aim for at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day.
Blood Pressure UK states: “Fruit and vegetables are a great source of potassium. Plus they’re full of vitamins, minerals and fibre which keep your body in good condition, helping to prevent bowel problems and some cancers as well as heart disease and stroke.”
Fruits that are particularly high in potassium include:
- Oranges and orange juice
- Tomato juice and tomato puree
Vegetables that are high in potassium include:
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and cabbage
- Sweet potatoes