Known as the silent killer, over 30%-40% of Irish people are living with high blood pressure, with many of them totally unaware of that fact. If left untreated high blood pressure substantially increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, vascular disease and kidney failure and your dietary choices play a role. A diet rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals and Omegas will help to lower your blood pressure where a diet consisting of fast food choices full of sodium and fat will negatively affect your blood pressure, putting you at greater risk for cardiovascular events. However our diet is a modifiable risk factor, by making healthier food choices we can decrease our risk of high blood pressure and all that follows.
Watch this video to understand more about high blood pressure:
How your salt intake adds up
The average daily salt intake in Ireland is high at approximately 10g in adults, which is well in excess of physiological requirements. The Irish recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 136/70mmol sodium (4g salt) per day. With over 90% of the sodium in our diets taking the form of sodium chloride, and between 65-70%* of sodium intake as a result of the consumption of manufactured (fast and processed) foods, taking control of your sodium intake is critical. As we age our blood pressure naturally increases and more than doubles once you reach age 35 and over.
Does your environment exert an influence on your diet?
The Oregon Research Institute in the US conducted a study into high blood pressure as a result of fast food and found a causal link between the amount of fast food outlets available in a particular neighbor and an increase in blood pressure in the general population. Conducting the study with subjects involving middle aged and older adults from 120 neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon, the study found a link between the density of fast food restaurants per neighborhood and the incidence of those with higher blood pressure. Research also highlighted a link between those who made regular visits to fast food restaurants and an increase in blood pressure. The research and findings were published in the March 2009 edition of the journal ‘Preventative Medicine’.
What is the impact of a single fast food meal?
According to ‘The Journal of Nutrition’ in April 2007, a study of healthy participants consumed two fast food meals containing 42 grams of fat on separate occasions, or two low-fat, non-fast food meals. As to be expected the high-fat fast food meals caused blood pressure to rise and an increase in heart rate, in comparison to those who ate a low-fat meal. Eating a single high-fat, fast food meal exerts a negative affect on blood pressure, with supporting evidence that excess fat and certain saturated fats contribute to sustained high blood pressure.
Healthy food for thought
As we know eating fast food isn’t the only factor that can influence a rise in blood pressure, your overall dietary intake and levels of physical activity all play a vital role in the development and hypertension (high blood pressure). The Oregon Research Institute also found the link to high blood pressure diminished with the inclusion of increase physical activity and the consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables. This highlights the great influence of diet and exercise choices in your overall well-being and future health status.