High blood pressure is a condition that causes a the pressure in a person’s arteries to become higher than it should be. It affects one in four adults in the UK, but many people don’t know they have it because symptoms are rarely noticeable.
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The best way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your reading regularly checked, either by your doctor, local pharmacist or using a blood pressure monitor at home.
Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing complications such as kidney disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent the condition and keep it in check.
Simple lifestyle changes can often prevent or reduce high blood pressure, such as eating healthily.
Experts advise cutting down on the amount of salt in food. And as such, a food many people enjoy for breakfast, and indeed throughout the day, should be considered.
Baked beans, while high in fibre and protein and low in fat, tend to be salty.
Salt works on the kidneys to make the body hold on to more water and the extra stored water raises your blood pressure and puts strain on your kidneys, arteries, heart and brain.
Blood Pressure UK explains: “Your body removes unwanted fluid by filtering your blood through your kidneys. Here any extra fluid is sucked out and put into your bladder to be removed as urine.
“To do this, your kidneys use osmosis to draw the extra water out of your blood. This process uses a delicate balance of sodium and potassium to pull the water across a wall of cells from the bloodstream into a collecting channel that leads to the bladder.
“Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water.
“The result is a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys.”
A tin of baked beans contains roughly 1.6g of salt. Adults are advised to eat no more than 6g of salt a day – which is around 1 teaspoon.
So being wary of your salt intake of the day, especially if you eat baked beans, is important.
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A few brands offer reduced-sodium varieties, so check the label.
Another option is to make a homemade version you can add less salt to.
But if you’re making baked beans yourself using canned rather than dried beans you should make sure to rinse and drain them to reduce their salt content.
To counteract the negative impact of salt on blood pressure you should eat plenty of potassium-rich fruit and vegetables.
Because eating salt raises the amount of sodium in the bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance of sodium and potassium, Blood Pressure UK says: “Eating more fruit and vegetables, you will increase your potassium levels and help to restore the delicate balance.
“This will help your kidneys to work more efficiently – and help to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level.”
Other ways to lower blood pressure
Being active and taking regular exercise lower blood pressure by keeping the heart and blood vessels in good condition.
The NHS advises: “Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
“Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
“Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.”
Cutting down on caffeine, limiting your alcohol intake and stopping smoking can also help.
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