High blood pressure can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated. The arteries can thicken and harden, which can then lead to heart attack and stroke. Because diet can have a big impact on blood pressure, it’s important to make some changes to what you eat. The NHS recommends cutting your salt intake to less than 6g a day, eating a low-fat, balanced diet with plenty of fish fruit and vegetables, cutting down on alcohol and drinking less caffeine.
But certain foods alone have been found to have blood pressure-lowering properties – one of these being onion.
Onions have been found to lower the risk of heart disease, and one way it does this is by reducing high blood pressure.
Its potent anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce high blood pressure, and quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant that’s highly concentrated in onions, can also prove effective.
One study which involved 70 overweight people with high blood pressure found a dose of 162mg per day of quercetin-rich onion extract significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 3-6mmHg compared to a placebo.
Having high cholesterol can contribute to high cholesterol, and onion has also been found to combat this.
Another study looking at 54 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome found eating large amounts of raw red onion (40-50g a day if overweight and 50-60g a day if obese) for eight weeks reduced total and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol compared to a control group.
Another food which has been found to help high blood pressure is chicken soup.
In 2008, research using rats in Japan suggested eating chicken legs or chicken soup could help lower high blood pressure.
As part of the study, researchers wanted to see if collagen, a protein found in chicken legs, could be broken up by the stomach into smaller protein that lower blood pressure.
They found that the smaller pieces included ones that work just like the blood pressure medications, ACE inhibitors.
To find out if the smaller proteins really could lower blood pressure, they were then fed to rats whose blood pressures were measured for 24 hours.
The chicken leg proteins were found to cause a fall in blood pressure, but this slowly wore off over the 24 hour period.
As a result, the researchers concluded people could eat chicken soup made from chicken leg meat to help lower their blood pressure further.
But chicken legs do not contain enough collagen to replace blood pressure medicines.
Another way to help lower high blood pressure is to get active.
Adults are recommended to do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.
This could include cycling, fast walking, or even gardening.