High blood pressure is the body’s way of telling you that your heart health is in jeopardy. It means that your blood is moving through your blood vessels with devastating force. This force causes your blood vessels to harden and narrow in response – a mechanism that raises your risk of heart disease.
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It is therefore imperative to lower your reading if you fall into the danger zone.
Unfortunately, the condition produces no discernible symptoms so the only way to determine whether you have it is to get your blood pressure checked.
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.
As the NHS explains, they’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
According to the health body, high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80).
If a test (which can be conducted at home using a home blood pressure monitor) determines you have a high reading, you are usually advised to overhaul aspects of your lifestyle to bring it down to a healthy range.
Diet offers one of the most effective countermeasures and some foods have been touted specifically for their blood pressure-lowering effects.
Guava, a tropical fruit, has been shown to reduce your reading and overall risk of heart disease, for example.
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A 12-week study in 120 people found that eating ripe guava before meals caused an overall decrease in blood pressure by eight to nine points, a reduction in total cholesterol by 9.9 percent and an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol by eight percent.
An additional study has linked guava leaf extract to lower blood pressure, a decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol, and a rise in “good” HDL cholesterol
What is “good” and “bad” cholesterol and why does it play a role in heart disease?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that sticks to your artery walls – this can eventually block the supply of blood flowing to your heart causing heart disease.
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Cholesterol comes in different guises and not all pose health risks.
The key is to reduce harmful forms of cholesterol which cause this destructive process such as LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol – this counters the harmful mechanism by picking up LDL cholesterol and taking it to your liver where it is flushed out.
How guava reduces risk of heart disease
Many scientists believe that the high levels of antioxidants and vitamins in guava leaves may help protect your heart from damage by free radicals – unstable molecules that destroy cells.
The higher levels of potassium and soluble fibre in guavas are also thought to contribute to improved heart health.
Potassium lowers your blood pressure by countering the harmful effects of sodium (salt).
The American Heart Association (AHA) explains: “The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine.
“Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure.”
The other key component to lowering high blood pressure is to frequently engage in moderate-intensity exercise, says the NHS.
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