Your blood pressure is an extremely important indicator of heart health. Elevated blood pressure puts people at a higher risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other problems related to cardiovascular health. It is known as the “silent killer” since high blood pressure has no obvious symptoms.
During the past two years, it has been more diﬃcult for people to get into doctors oﬃces. This has led to a trend of people taking control of their own health and monitoring themselves for potential health conditions. One of the easiest things to do is check your own blood pressure.
In the past, digital blood pressure monitors tended to be unreliable. Most nurses I know prefer to take blood pressures with a cuﬀed sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. Although more accurate, that is very diﬃcult to do on your own. I know because I’ve tried. The newer models of digital home blood pressure monitors are considerably more accurate.
Here is a home blood pressure monitor that is easy to use and is backed by clinical studies:
The textbook deﬁnition of normal blood pressure is 120/80. The upper number is the pressure against your vessel walls during contraction of the heart. The lower number is the pressure while the heart is between contractions. Typically, high blood pressure is deﬁned as a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher. Blood pressure should be taken while you are at rest, sitting upright, with your legs uncrossed, and in a relaxed setting. The doctor’s oﬃce may not be the most relaxed setting for many people. Elevated blood pressure in a doctor’s oﬃce has been termed “white coat hypertension”. Blood pressure is variable so in a state of nervousness, it may be elevated. You need to know your baseline blood pressure when you are relaxed.
So the blood pressure reading while you’re being seen for a medical problem may involve anxiety about your medical visit. A better approach is to monitor your blood pressure while you are in a relaxed setting, perhaps at home.
The foods you eat can have a powerful inﬂuence on blood pressure. That’s why most heart-healthy diets include lots of fruits and vegetables. Salt has been a no-no in high blood pressure patients for years. It is generally believed that high salt intake leads to water retention by the kidneys and creates a higher blood pressure. Of course, there are those that refute that claim. I realize this is a large jump, but what about yogurt?
A new study from the University of South Australia surveyed 915 people and found that eating yogurt on a daily basis correlated with healthy blood pressure levels. Here are a few possibilities to explain this…
????Yogurt is a rich source of probiotics for gut health. Probiotics have previously been found to support blood pressure and other markers of heart health.
????Yogurt is a good source of potassium. Potassium balances out the eﬀects of sodium on blood pressure.
????Yogurt provides a balance of calcium and magnesium. These minerals work together for the healthy function of the smooth muscle lining blood vessels.
Just eating yogurt will not be enough to ensure a lifetime of healthy blood pressure, but it doesn’t hurt to add it into the mix. We love it when new research supports basic lifestyle recommendations that have always and will always make sense.
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Wade AT, Guenther BA, Ahmed FS, Elias MF. Higher yogurt intake is associated with lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals: Cross-sectional ﬁndings from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal study. Int Dairy J. 2021; 122: 105159. [link]