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Eating more fruit and vegetables has been proven to help lower blood pressure.
Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep your body in good condition. They also contain potassium, which helps to balance out the negative effects of salt. This has a direct effect on your blood pressure, helping to lower it.
Eat at least 5 portions a day
To help lower blood pressure, adults should eat at least 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables per day. A portion is 80 grams, or roughly the size of your fist.
The following amounts represent a portion:
- A dessert bowl of salad
- Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables
- Three heaped tablespoons of pulses (chickpeas, lentils, beans and so on)
- One medium-sized fruit (apple, orange, pear or banana)
- Two smaller fruits (plums, apricots, satsumas)
- One slice of a large fruit (melon, pineapple or mango)
- Two to three tablespoons of berries or grapes
- A glass (150ml) of fruit or vegetable juice
- One tablespoon of dried fruit
Not everything counts
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, cassava and plantain are all vegetables, but they do not count towards your five a day total. However, you should still include them as part of your healthy eating.
Pulses, fruit juice and vegetable juice all count towards your five a day total. However they only count as one portion no matter how much you eat or drink.
10 ways to get the most from your fruit and vegetables
- Don’t buy fruit and vegetable dishes that come with sauces. They often contain a lot of fat, salt and sugar.
- Dried, frozen and tinned products can be just as good as fresh, but watch out for added salt, sugar or fats.
- Vary the types of fruit and vegetables you eat. Each has different health benefits and it will keep your meals interesting. By eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables, you will ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs.
- Don’t add sugar to fruit or salt to vegetables when you cook or serve them.
- Try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables as soon as possible. They will lose their nutrients over time, so if you want to store your ingredients for a while, it is best to freeze them or buy frozen packets
- Avoid leaving vegetables open to the air, light or heat if they have been cut. Always cover and chill them, but don't soak them because the vitamins and minerals can dissolve away.
- Vegetables keep more of their vitamins and minerals if you lightly steam or bake them, instead of boiling or frying them.
- If you boil vegetables, use as little water as possible to help keep the vitamins and minerals in them.
- Experiment with other ways of cooking vegetables, such as roasting or grilling them, for new tastes and flavours.
- Stir-fries are great for getting lots of vegetables into one meal. So are freshly-made soups.