Blood pressure: Foods rich in vitamin B will help reduce hypertension – expert

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, can have serious consequences if untreated. If it is too high it puts strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs. In serious cases this can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Although there are medications that can be prescribed by doctors for hypertension, they will also recommend making lifestyle and diet changes.

Generally this means eating more healthily and exercising regularly, as well as losing weight if needed.

But an expert has explained how including more of a certain vitamin in the diet can help.

Nutritionist consultant for Nutrigums, Shona Wilkinson, told “B vitamins are good for maintaining blood pressure.

“These nutrients help to lower homocysteine levels, which is another risk factor for heart disease. 

“Thiamine contributes to the normal function of the heart, so getting a good source of thiamine (vitamin B1) through introducing foods such as fish, sunflower seeds, tofu and asparagus can also help restore balanced blood pressure levels.”

Other sources of B1 include:

  • some fortified breakfast cereals
  • pork
  • beans and lentils
  • peas
  • yoghurt
  • some fresh fruits (such as bananas and oranges)
  • nuts
  • wholegrain breads
  • liver

Research has also shown vitamins B2, B9 and B12 to help high blood pressure.

Ms Wilkinson shared other ways to reduce hypertension.

“Besides looking into a balanced and healthy diet, foods such as bananas are not only a nutritious food but they are rich in potassium and are packed with fibre – something which lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease,” she said.

“Steamed haddock in particular contains a strong source of potassium as do ready-to-eat apricots, a great snack to add into your everyday.

“People often forget the value of herbs too, and basil and tarragon are not only flavoursome, but will actively improve your potassium intake.

“An imbalance in your electrolytes can also lead to high blood pressure and magnesium contributes to an electrolyte balance. Known as ‘nature’s relaxant’ it relaxes muscles and nerves, as it dilates blood vessels, this will lower blood pressure.

“To up your magnesium intake you should increase your intake of dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.”

She added: “Finally, there are also ways we can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, for instance, limiting your caffeine intake and reducing stress levels through daily fitness regimes and bed time sleep supplements.”

High blood pressure does not usually cause symptoms – most people will discover they have it following a blood test.

But there are factors that can make you more at risk.

According to the NHS, these include if you:

  • are overweight
  • eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • do not do enough exercise
  • drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • smoke
  • do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
  • are over 65
  • have a relative with high blood pressure
  • are of black African or black Caribbean descent
  • live in a deprived area

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