Eat Marmite to lower blood pressure, professor says

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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Having high blood pressure – also known as hypertension – means your heart is having to work harder to pump blood around your body. This can be dangerous and can cause serious medical emergencies if left untreated, such as heart attacks and strokes. With around a third of adults in the UK thought to be affected by high blood pressure, it is important to be aware of ways to bring it down.

It is well known that eating a high-salt diet is one major contributor to hypertension.

This is because salt makes the body hold onto water and this extra water puts pressure on the blood vessel walls.

However, one expert revealed adding something to your diet might be even more effective at lowering blood pressure than cutting out salt.

Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of the ZOE Health Study, shared results from a new survey for which 96,000 people took part.

Speaking on the ZOE YouTube channel he said: “Amazingly 96,000 people have just completed the big diet study telling us all about your habitual diet, and this allows us to get some really interesting insight from the data.

“By comparing this with the blood pressure study data where many of you have very kindly got hold of a blood pressure machine and told us what’s going on so we can see what happens – the interactions between diet and blood pressure.”

He championed the inclusion of potassium-rich foods in your diet.

“So people who have a lot of potassium in their diet have lower blood pressures and studies have shown this is more important than salt, when you add potassium supplements rather than reducing salt,” he said.

“And this is actually quite a major finding because this is something all of you can do. “You can actually improve the potassium in your diet.”

When ranking foods in order of their potassium content he placed yeast extract, which is an ingredient that can be used as a cheese replacement for vegans or within spreads such as Marmite, as the most potassium rich.

Within 100 grams of yeast extract, there is around 2,100mg of potassium.

As a comparison there is only 358 mg of potassium in 100g of banana.

Mr Spector continued: “But looking at the foods that can do higher potassium I didn’t know about all of these.

“I thought it was just bananas, which tennis players eat.

“But it turns out that the top 15 ones are things like yeast extract which vegans use to mimic cheese.”

Second on the list was potato crisps, with about 1,300mg of potassium per 100g.

“Potato crisps now, that’s an unlikely one isn’t it?” he said.

“Obviously they have salt in them but if we think potassium is more important that’s really interesting.”

The other 13 foods were:

  • Tomato puree
  • Protein powder shake
  • Roasted pistachio
  • Coffee Mate whitener powder
  • Dried raisins
  • Dried mixed fruit
  • Prunes
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raw quinoa
  • Bombay mix
  • Fresh parsley
  • Breakfast bran cereal
  • Almond butter.

High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80).

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