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Lifestyle and high blood pressure: The practical stuff
Q. I have high blood pressure. Should I cut out fat?
A. Yes, it is likely you will benefit from cutting down on the amount of fat that you eat. But, it is important to have some fat in your diet because it is a source of the essential fatty acids that your body needs and can't make itself. Fats also help your body to absorb some vitamins and are a good source of energy.
Eating too much fat makes it easy to take in more energy than you need, which makes you more likely to put on weight. Because of the large amount of calories contained in fat, we should cut down on all types of fat and choose low-fat foods when we can.
The most important type of fat to cut back on is saturated fat, as this fat increases the levels of cholesterol in your body. This increase in cholesterol in your blood can cause your arteries to "fur" up - extra cholesterol is dropped onto the insides of the arteries and slowly builds up. Eventually your arteries can become clogged up and this increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke and, when combined with your high blood pressure, dramatically increases your risk of future health problems. To avoid this it is worth watching how much animal fat, coconut and palm oil you eat as these contain saturated fats.
For more on the effects of cholesterol and saturated fats, please see our Saturated fats page on our main site.