High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
High blood pressure damages the arteries and increases a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke. Thus, exercising and eating right are the keys to longer life. However, a sweet treat can be healthy too.
The NHS Change4Life campaign suggests a cherry berry crumble pudding to satisfy a sweet tooth this winter (the recipe is further down).
The health benefits of cherries
BBC Good Food said cherries are “bursting with vitamins and antioxidants”, and 14 cherries count towards one of your five-a-day.
Cherries contain: fibre, potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and folic acid.
The fruit beholds the antioxidants anthocyanins and cyanidin, which “protect our cells from damage caused by oxidants, or free radicals”.
It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which “could be beneficial” to your health.
Research by the British Journal of Nutrition found that cherry juice “may reduce blood pressure due to its high polyphenol content”.
The research paper stated it had 134 participants, aged between 50 to 70 years old.
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They all had a blood pressure from 130/85mmHg to 179/109mmHg, which would classify some of the participants as having high blood pressure.
The trial was conducted for 12 weeks, whereby participants were randomly selected to drink 500ml of one of the following:
- A berry juice, based on red grapes, cherries, chokeberries and bilberries
- A similar juice enriched with “polyphenol-rich extracts from blackcurrant press-residue”
- A placebo
Resting blood pressure was measured three times, with a one-minute interval, at baseline.
Measurements were then taken again after six weeks and 12 weeks of intervention.
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The researchers noted that blood pressure “significantly reduced over time in the pooled juice group compared to placebo”.
This reduction in blood pressure reading was more pronounced in hypertensive subjects who drank the polyphenol-rich juices.
Thus, the researchers concluded cherries could help lower blood pressure readings.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) testified that high blood pressure “rarely has noticeable symptoms”.
Considering the dangers it poses to a person’s health (and longevity), you need to get your blood pressure reading done at the GP’s clinic, pharmacy or with an at-home device.
A normal blood pressure reading is lower than 140/90mmHg, whereas possible hypertension is between 140/90mmHg and 180/110mmHg; severe hypertension will read as higher than 180/110mmHg.
You can lower your blood pressure reading by exercising daily and maintaining a healthy weight.
Moreover, try not to eat too much salt – aim for less than 6g per day.
Per serving, there is:
- 252kcal (calories)
- 6.2g protein
- 15.6g carbohydrates
- 8.8g fat
- 2.9g fibre
- 0.3g salt
- 200g frozen cherries
- 200g frozen summer fruits
- 150g plain flour
- 75g lower-fat spread
- 30g porridge oats
- 1tbsp Demerara (or granulated sugar)
- 12tbsp low-fat, lower-sugar plain yoghurt, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180C, fan oven 160C, gas mark 4.
- Put the frozen cherries and berries into a baking dish (there’s no need to thaw them).
- Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the lower-fat spread, rubbing it in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the porridge oats and sugar.
- Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve with 2 tablespoons of yoghurt per person.
“Try adding a few drops of vanilla extract to the yoghurt to add some more flavour,” said the NHS.
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