Two Christmas classics could increase your risk of hypertension

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, lays the groundwork for serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes. While a one-off treat won’t compromise your levels, overindulging on certain foods might not extend the same level of kindness. What’s worse, two Christmas staples are packed with salt which spells bad news for your hypertension levels.

Whether you’ve been invited to a company party or a Christmas bash at your neighbour’s place, the festive season is now in full swing.

This merry time also comes hand in hand with some classic treats that will take over the fridges across the UK.

While cheese boards and pigs in blankets might make your taste buds rejoice, your blood pressure might feel differently if you overdo these snacks.

According to Blood Pressure UK, you should “try to avoid” sausages and bacon – the key ingredients used in pigs in blankets. The charity also advises cutting down on cheese.

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The reason why these decadent favourites could be risky for your high blood pressure comes down to their salt content.

Eating too much salt is considered the “single biggest cause” of blood pressure out there.

While you might not go crazy with your salt shaker when cooking, the common ingredient is hidden in the foods you buy in a store, just like cheese and pigs in blankets.

Salt makes your body hold onto water, which puts extra water in your blood, applying extra pressure on your blood vessel walls.

This is the very recipe for a high blood pressure reading. What’s worse, too much salt will keep raising your blood pressure even once it’s high.

Blood Pressure UK explains: “Cutting down on salt is one of the simplest ways to lower your blood pressure, and will start to make a difference very quickly, even within weeks.”

That’s why the charity recommends keeping an eye on groceries that are high in salt.

Sadly, both bacon and sausages pack a high percentage of salt, compared to fresh meat.

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In fact, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey highlights that meat and processed meat products are the second key contributor of salt intake in the UK.

Depending on what type of cheese you eat, the dairy snack is not any better.

According to the British Heart Foundation, some types of roquefort, halloumi, feta and cheese singles are saltier than seawater.

Fortunately, the likes of ricotta, goat cheese, mozzarella and cream cheese pack the least amount of sodium.

Blood Pressure UK also explains that two types of the same product can contain very different amounts of salt.

This means that one brand of cheddar might pack more salt than a different brand.

The charity advises: “Check the nutrition information on food labels to see if it’s low, medium or high in salt, and compare with other products to find the healthy options.”

These guidelines should help you navigate what products are low or high in the pesky ingredient:

  • Low – 0.3g salt or less per 100g
  • Medium – 0.3 – 1.5g salt per 100g
  • High – 1.5g salt or more per 100g (Try to avoid these or eat them only occasionally).

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