Heart Health

07 January 2009

The pressure's off

Here's some good news: eat more fruit and veggies, start exercising, and limit your alcohol and salt intake - and you can lower your heart risk.


Want to decrease your risk of getting a heart attack? Then include more fruit and veggies in your diet, start exercising regularly, limit your alcohol and salt intake and don’t forget to eat that occasional helping of dark chocolate.

This will lower your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and ultimately your risk of heart disease.

Hypertension affects approximately one billion people worldwide and just about 3,3 million South Africans. It's known as "the silent killer" because it’s usually symptomless until damage is done to the heart and other organs.

The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly - and if you do have it, your doctor may prescribe medication.

Although genetics play a role in blood-pressure variability, diet and lifestyle factors exert considerable influence in blood pressure regulation.

Weight loss crucial
The importance of weight loss in bringing down blood pressure cannot be overemphasised, according to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers found that losing only 5kg can have a significant effect on blood pressure. However, what's even more important is the way in which you lose the weight.

For a comparable 5kg weight loss, a diet high in fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products resulted in a greater decrease in blood pressure than did a low-fat diet.

Thumbs-up for veggie diets
Other researchers have confirmed that vegetarian diets or a diet high in fruit and vegetables can lower the blood pressure. Vegetarian diets are high in fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts.

As a result, they contribute relatively high polyunsaturated and low saturated fats to the diet, are relatively low in total fat and have a high potassium, magnesium and fibre content.

The protective effect of these foods are likely to be mediated by their tendency to reduce body weight and modulate blood viscosity along with other blood pressure lowering properties of individual nutrients. These foods are colourful and can add a lot of variety to any eating plan.

More good news is that you can add another item to your grocery list. It has also been found that dark, but not white or milk, chocolate decreases blood pressure.

– (Martie de Wet, Registered Dietician, updated May 2008)

Any questions? Ask DietDoc


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Ask the Expert

Honey Morgan

Honey is a Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, Energy ReSourcing™ & Ericksonian Hypnotherapy Practitioner who has been practicing for over a decade. Personally, Honey is actively involved in the BDSM community and takes the role of a submissive or slave. She also spent 7 years as an exotic dancer. Her specialised coaching focus on sex & relationships, as well as spiritual journeys, is the result of a burning passion to help women (and men!) have fulfilling long-term relationships & healthy sex lives. She is also dedicated to helping couples and individuals find the bond, connection & love we all so desperately yearn for in our souls. Honey is one of the founders and creators behind www.sexandhoney.com and www.my-coach-online.com, two innovative online coaching platforms designed to put real coaching resources into the hands of people who need them most… at a fraction of the cost of traditional coaching and counseling.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules