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High blood pressure: Eating a particular type of mushroom could help to lower your reading

High blood pressure can often be lowered without the need for medication, simply by improving your diet. Dietary changes essential for healthy blood pressure include cutting down on salt and foods high in saturated fat. But the condition can also be improved by including other foods in your diet which have the ability to improve blood vessel health. One food which has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels, is the shiitake mushroom.

Shiitake mushrooms are rich in a chemical called eritadenine, which seems to block the activity of an enzyme that constricts blood vessels

Juliette Kellow

“Shiitake mushrooms are rich in a chemical called eritadenine, which seems to block the activity of an enzyme that constricts blood vessels,” writes dietitian Juliette Kellow.

This is important as when blood vessels constrict, the pressure of blood flowing through them is increased.

When blood vessels remain widened, blood pressure is more likely to remain at normal levels.

Dr Sarah Brewer notes the eritadenine found in shiitake mushrooms blocks angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) in a similar way to the ACE inhibitor class of antihypertensive drugs.

Some other edible mushrooms, such as oyster, enoki and porcini also contain eritadenine, but shiitake mushrooms contain the highest amount.

Preclinical studies also suggest shiitake extracts stimulate the removal of excess sodium via the kidneys to reduce fluid retention.

This is important as salt is a common contributor to high blood pressure.

Dr Brewer adds that shiitake mushrooms provide all the “essential” amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, B12 and C, and also have the highest content of vitamin D of any plant foods.

The Japanese mushrooms also provide magnesium and calcium, which too have “direct blood pressure lowering actions”.

According to Dr Brewer, shiitake mushrooms are the second most popular edible mushroom worldwide, after the common white button mushroom, but have “a far superior” nutritional value.

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“Shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally for over 3,000 years to treat high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels,” said Dr Brewer.

“In ancient Japan, shiitake was considered an ‘elixir of the life’ and they were eaten to increase energy and vigour, and to protect against heart disease and infections.”

You can buy shiitake mushrooms fresh, dried to add to soups and sauces, or as powder or capsules if you prefer to take them in supplement form.

More than a quarter of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many won’t know they have it.

The condition can lead to serious health complications if left untreated, increasing the risk of having heart attacks and strokes.

If your blood pressure is too high, it’s vital to lower it in order to prevent complications from occurring.

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High blood pressure puts extra stress on blood vessels and vital organs. It increases the risk of some life-threatening heart conditions, including heart attacks and strokes.

Hypertension can often be prevented, and blood pressure reduced, by making some diet or lifestyle changes.

Healthy diet

Cutting back on the amount of salt in your diet is a great way to lower blood pressure.

Salt raises blood pressure, and the more you eat, the higher your blood pressure is likely to be.

Aim to eat less than 6g of salt a day – the equivalent to about a teaspoonful.

Alcohol

Blood pressure could be raised if you regularly drink too much alcohol.

Those most likely to have hypertension are people that regularly exceed the week recommended limits.

All adults are advised to drink less than 14 units of alcohol in a single week.

Weight loss

If you’re overweight, the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body, which raises blood pressure.

Losing just a few pounds could make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health.

Exercise

Staying active is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure.

It helps you to lose weight, while also keeping the heart and blood vessels in good condition.

All adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week.

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