High blood pressure can be difficult to spot because symptoms are rarely noticeable. The best way to find out your reading is to have your blood pressure checked by your GP or pharmacist or to use a blood pressure monitor at home. If high blood pressure is left untreated, the arteries will begin to harden and thicken, leading to heart attack and stroke. But the condition can often be prevented or reduced by eating a healthy diet.
The NHS recommends cutting down on the amount of salt in your food and to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
When it comes to the best fruit and vegetables to eat for blood pressure, new research has shown the positive effects of tomato juice.
Tomato juice was found to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol in people at risk of heart disease.
The 481 Japanese participants in the study were provided with as much unsalted tomato juice as they wanted for a whole year.
They kept “tomato juice diaries” in which they recorded exactly how much they consumed each day, in addition to any health changes they noticed.
Blood pressure dropped by three per cent on average in 94 participants with untreated pre-hypertension or hypertension, according to the findings published in the journal Food Science and Nutrition.
Among those with high cholesterol, 125 experienced a 3.3 per cent average fall in the fatty substance which can block blood vessels causing heart attacks and strokes.
The beneficial effects were similar among men, women and different age groups, according to the research team from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University.
But Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said more research is needed to accurately represent the health benefits of tomato juice.
She said: “The Japanese population is likely to be different to that of the UK, so we shouldn’t generalise.
“The study also fails to look at what else participants were eating or whether they had consumed tomatoes in other forms and it does not take lifestyle factors into account which could have affected their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”
Ms Taylor said increasing your daily intake of fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes, helps maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system.
But she warned against drinking more than one 150ml portion of fruit or vegetable juice per day due to the high sugar content.
Another way high blood pressure can be prevented or reduced is by keeping active.
Regular exercise has been shown to keep the heart and blood vessels in a good condition and can help you lose weight, which can also help lower blood pressure.
Experts advise adults do at lest 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking every week.