High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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Christmas is not known for its moderation. While indulging once a year is perfectly acceptable, poor dietary decisions can raise your blood pressure, hiking your risk of cardiovascular problems. It is therefore imperative to enjoy yourself without overdoing it. Fortunately, drinking alcohol in moderation can actually have a positive impact on high blood pressure.
In fact, the star ingredient of mulled wine – a Christmas staple – can lower hypertension.
Red wine has been shown to lower high blood pressure: an effect attributed to its flavonoid content.
A higher intake of foods rich in flavonoids – including berries, apples, tea and red wine – has been linked to lower blood pressure in analysis by Queen’s University in Belfast and Kiel University in Germany.
Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds that are a constituent of fruits and vegetables.
The blood pressure-lowering benefits are only reaped in moderation, the study suggests.
About three glasses of red wine per week was optimal, while for berries the suggested amount was 80g a day.
The study focused on how microbes in the gut break down flavonoids found in those foods and drinks, which then results in a drop in blood pressure.
“Our gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolising flavonoids to enhance their cardioprotective effects, and this study provides evidence to suggest these blood pressure-lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet,” said lead investigator Professor Aedin Cassidy.
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The findings are based on analysis involving more than 900 participants in Germany.
Why mulled wine?
Other ingredients found in mulled wine have been shown to deliver a firm blow to high blood pressure.
No mulled wine would be complete without cinnamon and a seasonal flavour is not the only benefit on offer.
A review exploring the literature on the association between cinnamon intake and reductions in blood pressure drew a positive conclusion.
Medical literature for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of the effect of cinnamon on blood pressure was systematically searched.
“Consumption of cinnamon (short term) is associated with a notable reduction in SBP [systolic blood pressure and DBP [diastolic blood pressure],” the researchers concluded.
What do these numbers mean?
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
As a general guide:
- High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80)
- Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
Blood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.
“Everyone’s blood pressure will be slightly different. What’s considered low or high for you may be normal for someone else,” notes the NHS.
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