Consuming certain foods and drinks may help reduce one of the main risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Who knows, you could find you don’t need medication after all – but let your doctor be the judge of that.
1. Gorge on guacamole. Avocados are high in potassium, which lowers blood pressure. Most of us in the UK don’t get our daily potassium requirement.
2. Snack on apricots. This is another great source of potassium (as are bananas). And they’re high in fibre and low in calories, too. What’s not to like?
3. Say yes to yoghurt. But make it the probiotic kind. A recent review of nine high-quality research studies suggested that consuming probiotics for at least eight weeks could bring about a modest reduction in both systolic (the top number) and diastolic readings in people with hypertension. But researchers warn more studies are needed.
4. Buy a bottle of beetroot juice. A study from Queen Mary, University of London found that it took only 24 hours for beetroot juice to reduce blood pressure. Scientists believe the nitrate content is what brings the benefit.
5. Drink alcohol-free red wine. Men who drank non-alcoholic red wine for a study saw a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, which could translate to a 14% reduction in heart-attack risk and a 20% lower risk of stroke. The blokes who imbibed gin or normal red wine didn’t show the same drop, leading scientists to think that it’s the alcohol itself that weakens the beneficial effect of polyphenols in both traditional and alcohol-free red wine.
6. Reach for the raisins. Snack on these dried fruits three times daily and you’re looking at a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure if yours is mildly raised, research has suggested. Once again, the dietary good guys include potassium and polyphenols.
7. Have a cup of cocoa every night. The flavanols in cocoa products brought modest benefits to blood pressure when they were consumed every day, researchers found. A daily mug of cocoa shouldn’t be a difficult proposition as the weather gets colder.