High blood pressure affects more than one in four adults in the UK, according to the NHS. But a problem people face is the condition is hard to spot because symptoms are rarely noticeable. High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily. Experts advise cutting down on the amount of salt in your food, as this can cause blood pressure to rise. Certain foods have also been found to have blood pressure-lowering properties, particularly those high in potassium.
Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt, and one food high in this mineral is sweet potato.
Blood Pressure UK 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.”
Experts at Healthline say one medium-sized sweet potato contains 541mg of potassium.
Government guidelines say adults aged 19 to 64 need 3,500mg of potassium a day.
Other diet changes people should make to lower blood pressure, are listed by Bupa:
- Eat less sugar and saturated fat – fruit and vegetables are a good source of polyphenols – there is evidence these help reduce blood pressure.
- Add more calcium and potassium to your diet, including low-fat dairy products and beans, peas and nuts as well as green vegetables and bananas.
- Cut down on alcohol – avoid regularly drinking more than 14 units per week and try to have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
- Drink less coffee and other caffeinated drinks.