The Instagram logo

Independent health store advice on natural ways to maintain healthy blood pressure

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This month we speak to Gareth Zeal, nutritionist and owner of Little Green Social health store and café in Sandyford, Newcastle

High blood pressure is known as a silent killer as it tends to be asymptomatic (it has virtually no symptoms). The only symptom you might experience is headaches. The ideal number for blood pressure is the subject of increasing academic debate but essentially a reading of 120/70 or 120/80 is optimal.

Heart health is a popular topic with our customers and they often express surprise when I suggest they invest in a small pet. There is good evidence that having a pet helps to regulate blood pressure. Even having a cat can be beneficial as their presence helps to promote calm.

What’s on your plate?

What we eat is very important as most of us do need to monitor our salt intake. However, there are so many foods that are salt-enriched, it can be tough to avoid – even if you are consciously trying to minimise your intake.

A good way to reduce the amount you add to meals is to use a salt-shaker and place tape over half the holes. Try to add salt at the table only. Not using it when cooking will also help to maintain the balance of minerals in vegetables. Alternatively, use seaweed instead. It’ll provide that salty flavour and it has lower sodium levels. Herbs can be used both for seasoning and to provide flavour. Switching from salt to black pepper also works well.

A lot of processed foods have a disproportionate amount of salt in them so try to reduce your intake. This includes commercial breakfast cereals as a standard portion of these can contain more salt than a bag of crisps.

Adding an extra portion of fruit and vegetables will really help too. Fruit and vegetables help to raise your potassium levels and that’s key as we often don’t get enough potassium or magnesium and both help to regulate blood pressure. All fruit and vegetables have beneficial effects so add an extra portion of whatever you enjoy. Bananas are a good source of potassium and they’re also low in sodium. My favourite is watercress but any good quality green leafy vegetable is great. Beetroot is another good option as studies have shown it can help to lower blood pressure. I recommend Biotta Beet Juice (100ml daily) as it also has the advantage of being one of your fermented foods so it’s good for digestion and immune function too.

Supplement support

Magnesium improves the absorption of potassium in your diet. In addition, magnesium in its own right helps to regulate blood pressure and there’s good evidence on this. Calcium is also beneficial so you could opt for a combined supplement. When it comes to supplements for heart health, kyolic garlic is the one I reach for first. It’s a Japanese garlic extract that I’ve seen great results with.

Hibiscus tea is also very effective for blood pressure maintenance. Caffeine is correlated with raising blood pressure so consider swapping one of your daily cuppas for a natural tea. Another option is green coffee as that’s been shown to lower both blood pressure and blood sugar. There’s also hawthorn tea which is another good choice.

Keeping stress in check is important. Whether you relax to music, practise yoga or enjoy racket sports, all are very beneficial. Find some time to go for a walk near green spaces too. This could be via your local park or a nearby wooded area. Being close to nature including trees helps to invoke calm and just 10 minutes a day can make a difference.

About Little Green Social

This family-run vegan store opened in June 2018 and has a team of 16 staff, who mostly work in the busy café.

The health store is run by Gareth and his wife. It offers a popular eco-bodycare refills section including shampoo, bodywash and household cleaning options. LGS also offers refills for nuts and seeds.

The store stocks four high-quality ranges of supplements: Viridian, Quest, Terranova and A.Vogel.

Gareth also specialises in the use of probiotics. CBD coffee and natural, reusable facecloths, made from recycled materials, are also available (supplied by local companies). Gareth offers free 20-minute consultations as well as a longer one-hour option. Food intolerance testing is also available.

Read more Your Experts articles here...

Read articles from our latest issue here...