High blood pressure: Orange juice may slash your reading as much as ‘cutting down on salt’

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High blood pressure, also called hypertension, affects around a third of adults in the UK. The tricky aspect is that many might not even know due to the absence of symptoms caused by this condition. A recent study from the US showed that the coronavirus pandemic boosted the number of adults with hypertension even further. Express.co.uk spoke to dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton about a simple way to target high levels.

It’s normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day.

However, if your levels become consistently high, you’re risking developing severe health problems, like heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Fruit Juice Science Centre shared that lowering blood pressure might be as simple as enjoying your daily glass of orange juice.

Packed with vitamin C, the zesty drink can lower blood pressure by three millimetres of mercury(mmHg) for systolic blood pressure and almost two mmHg for diastolic blood pressure when drunk regularly, according to a new study in Nutrition Bulletin.

READ MORE: Supplements warning: The vitamin linked to a 22% increased risk of bleeding in the brain

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers which are measured in millimetres of mercury.

These two-numbers are systolic pressure, the higher number, and diastolic pressure, the lower number.

This “significant” reduction represents the equivalent of ditching around three to four grams of salt from your diet, Dr Ruxton explains.

Salt is a known culprit when it comes to raising blood pressure. Health bodies, including the NHS, recommend cutting down on this seasoning when suffering from hypertension.

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How can orange juice lower hypertension?

Dr Ruxton said: “Both oranges and orange juice contain a plant polyphenol, called hesperidin, which relaxes our blood vessels making it easier for our body to control blood pressure.

“Interestingly, hesperidin is absorbed more efficiently from juice than from whole oranges.

“That’s because the small amount of fibre in whole oranges inhibits hesperidin take-up by the body.

“Orange juice is also a source of potassium which is well proven for helping to manage blood pressure.”

So, the hesperidin and potassium combo is the pair responsible for this reduction.

The dietitian explained how this exactly works: “What happens in our bodies is that the hesperidin is broken down by our gut bacteria in the large intestine.

“It’s then absorbed by the bodies and goes through a few changes to its structure.

“The new compound in our blood – called hesperetin – helps to relax blood vessels which has a significant impact on blood pressure, especially in people who are at risk from cardiovascular disease.”

How much orange juice do I need to drink?

This is where things get a little bit tricky because the clinical studies on blood pressure use large amounts of orange juice, measured at around 500 millilitres (ml).

However, the recommended daily amount entails only 150 ml to keep the sugar intake within recommended limits, Dr Ruxton shared.

According to the dietitian, the good news is: “A large analysis of data from Canadian scientists found that 150-200 ml of fruit juice was linked with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”

So, a daily glass could still help when enjoyed regularly.

When it comes to the best time to reach for the popular drink, Dr Ruxton added:” Studies show that drinking fruit juice with meals helps to boost iron absorption from our foods.

“That’s why I would suggest having a glass of orange juice with an evening meal.

“Dentists also say that having fruity drinks with a meal, rather than as a snack, is better for teeth.

“[However], fruit juice never contains added sugars so all the sugars in the glass come directly from the fruit.”

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