High blood pressure doesn’t have a clear cause, but certain factors have been proven to raise your risk of the condition developing, such as a diet high in salt. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to the hardening and thickening of the arteries, and then heart attack and stroke, but making some simple changes to what you eat can help lower your reading. The NHS recommends cutting down on the amount of salt in your food and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. One vegetable in particular has been shown to have blood pressure lowering qualities.
Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says eating potatoes can help lower blood pressure.
The reason potatoes have been proven effective at lowering high blood pressure is because of their potassium content.
According to Prof Van Horn, people with high blood pressure should aim for 2,000 to 4,000mg of potassium a day.
The key mineral helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt, says Blood Pressure UK.
It explains: “Your kidneys help to control your blood pressure by controlling the amount of fluid stored in your body. The more fluid, the higher your blood pressure.
“Your kidneys do this by filtering your blood and sucking out any extra fluid, which it then stores in your bladder as urine. 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.
“By 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.
One study reported potatoes are the best dietary source of potassium, calculating a small backed potato provides 738mg of potassium.
Other foods rich in potassium include:
- Tomato juice and puree
- Orange juice
- Wholemeal pasta
The best way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your reading regularly checked, either by your GP or using a blood pressure monitor at home.
High blood pressure rarely causes any noticeable symptoms, but if symptoms do show you may experience the following, says Bupa:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Nose bleeds
- Stomach pain
- Blurred vision
Alongside diet changes, certain exercises are recommended to help lower high blood pressure.