Recently I found out that my blood pressure is bordering on being high and when I say bordering I really mean it; a healthy person should have a blood pressure of 120 over 80 (120/80). High blood pressure (or hypertension) is anything over 140/90. Last time I went to see the nurse my blood pressure was 139/88 and this is classed as pre-hypertension.
High blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart which can lead to a stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and other health problems...scary right? It's particular scary for a 27 year old who doesnt smoke and rarely drinks and up until that point didnt consider herself to be totally unhealthy - I have seen people with much worse diets than myself!
There are a number of things that can cause high blood pressure including being overweight, not enough fruit and vegetables, stress, smoking, drinking and eating too much salt. Now I can rule out the smoking and the drinking as a cause since I have never smoked and only drink if i go out (which doesn't happen all that often!). I am tackling the weight issue - I have lost a stone so far although I still have at least another stone to loose. I am going to the gym twice a week and I now have a job where the car park is 10 minutes walk from the office so i walk at least twenty minutes 5 days a week (and that's if I don't have meetings off site - one meeting off site adds another twenty minutes to that). I have started increasing the amount of fruit and veg I eat although there's never been a lack of fruit and veg in my diet...well maybe fruit but not veg.
The stress...well i do have quite a stressful job, and I also suffer from "white coat syndrome" - just being in a hospital or a doctors surgery will raise my heart rate - not great for someone who works for the NHS, although I am getting used to that hospital smell. So that leaves salt. I never used to add salt to my cooking till i met my other half 4 years ago but he loves salt and so I just started adding it in and putting it on my food. To me this seems the most likely cause of my raised blood pressure as im sure i never had a problem with high blood pressure before i started adding extra salt in to my food.
Salt makes your body retain water and if you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. A lot of foods contain salt so you cant cut it out altogether but there are foods which are high in salt that you can avoid and you can use herbs and spices in your cooking to replace the salt. You shouldn't be having more than 6g salt a day which is equivilent to just a teaspoon! The NHS have produced a guide about Salt, those foods to avoid and how to reduce your salt intake. You can find it here
Coming up on the blog in the next few weeks I am going to share a few low salt recipes i have come across for those of you who want to reduce your salt intake so keep checking back. Sorry for the boring blog post but hopefully it might make you stop and think about how much salt you are eating and the problems this could cause in the future.