High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to life-threatening implications if left untreated, such as heart attack and stroke.
This is because the condition puts strain on the blood vessels and can enlarge the heart, making blood vessels clog, burst or leak, and can cause damage to major organs.
These can put you at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, gout, vascular dementia, and problems with your vision.
But high blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating the right foods. Nuts are recommended as part of a healthy, balanced diet as well as having a host of health benefits – including lowering high blood press readings.
So which nuts are best for those with high blood pressure? According to one study, Diets Containing Pistachios Reduce Systolic Blood Pressure and Peripheral Vascular Responses to Stress in Adults With Dyslipidemia, pistachio nuts in a moderate-fat diet may reduce blood pressure during times of stress.
Other studies have found almonds have a similar effect. Both of these can easily be eaten as a snack or tossed onto salads.
But other nuts, like Brazil nuts, cashews and macadamia nuts, should be avoided.
These nuts are higher in saturated fat which is bad for the body’s cholesterol levels.
If there is too much cholesterol in the blood it can build up on the sides of the arteries, narrowing them and increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Dry-roasted, salted, flavoured or honey-roasted nuts, which come with extra salt, should also be avoided.
Salt makes your body retain water, so if you eat too much, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure.
Potassium helps to balance out the negative effects of salt and lowers your blood pressure.
Blood Pressure UK advises: “To reap the benefits of more potassium in your life, try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. (A portion is about the same size as your closed fist.)
“Not only will this help to lower your blood pressure, it will also help you to avoid certain cancers, bowel problems and even heart attacks or strokes.”
Good sources of potassium include potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, tomato sauce (without added salt or sugar), orange juice, tuna (fresh, frozen or tinned, but avoid tuna packed in brine), yoghurt and fat-free milk.
But it warns: “If you have kidney disease, or are taking certain blood pressure medication, a large increase in potassium cold be harmful.
“In this case, avoid taking potassium supplements and check with your doctor before drastically increasing your potassium intake.”
So what is considered a normal blood pressure reading?
NHS Choices advises that blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (the higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
The diastolic pressure (the lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. Both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
Hypertension is considered to be 150/90mmHg or higher, and low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.