High blood pressure, or hypertension as its also known, affects more than one in four adults in the UK, according to the NHS.
When a blood pressure reading is taken, two numbers are produced – the systolic pressure (the higher number) which indicates the force at which your heart pumps blood around the body, and the diastolic pressure (the lower number) which records the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
Too high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher.
Heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease are just a few of the potentially life-threatening conditions caused by hypertension.
But there are a number of things you can do to control it and naturally lower your reading.
Regular exercise, reducing your sodium intake and drinking less alcohol are just a few of things studies have found to help lower high blood pressure.
Alongside these, scientists have suggested eating sardines could also help – and here’s the reason why.
As part of findings in the studies ‘Calcium modulation of hypertension and obesity: mechanisms and implications’ and ‘Calcium and blood pressure’, people with low calcium intake often have high blood pressure.
Calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to lower blood pressure, but calcium-rich diets are linked to healthy levels.
For most adults, the calcium recommendation is 1,000 mg per day, and for women over 50 and men over 70 it’s 1,200mg per day.
Dairy is packed-full of calcium, but you can also get calcium from collard greens and other leafy greens, beans, tofu and sardines.
Sardines canned in oil contain around 382mg of calcium.
Another natural remedy for bringing down blood pressure is relaxing with music.
The right tunes can help you get low blood pressure, according to researchers at the University of Florence in Italy.
As part of their study they asked 28 adults who were already taking hypertension medication to listen to soothing classical, Celtic, or Indian music for 30 minutes a day, while breathing slowly.
After a week, the listeners had lowered their average systolic reading (the highest pressure when your heart beats) by 3.2 points.
A month later, readings were down 4.4 points.
The NHS also suggests making the following lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure:
- Reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet
- Cut back on alcohol if you drink too much
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Exercise regularly
- Cut down on caffeine
- Stop smoking
- Try to get at least six hours of sleep a night