Day 10 of our Bitesize Nutrition challenge is to check your blood pressure before the end of this month – at a chemist/pharmacy/GP surgery. You don’t need appointment and it’s free. When you get to the front of the queue ask if someone can check your blood pressure.


It’s simple.  Most people don’t have any high blood pressure symptoms, so don’t wait for some to appear – they wont!

1/3rd of people in UK have high blood pressure and 1/2 of those don’t know it…. So if you’d like to reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack check it out.

What should your blood pressure be?

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is blood pressure greater than 140/90mmHg. Systolic is the top number and is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body. The bottom number is your diastolic and is the pressure at rest between beats. Ideally it should be 120/70mmHg.

Buy your own blood pressure monitor

You could buy a blood pressure monitor and test it at home but how accurate is the monitor and how regularly is it checked for accuracy? Here’s a guide on which monitor to buy.

Causes of high blood pressure

  • Eating too much salt (Govt guidelines are <6g per day. 6g = 1 teaspoon)
  • Being overweight
  • Over 65yrs of age
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Insomnia
  • Smoking

How to lower blood pressure

  • Drink less caffeine and alcohol, and drink more water
  • Stop adding salt to cooking and to your food
  • Take some exercise
  • Eat more food with good fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, fish)
  • Practice mindfulness like deeper breathing exercises daily


Also known as the silent killer – again, there are no signs of high cholesterol so don’t wait for them!

You’re at risk if you’re over 40 years old, overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetic or have a family history of high cholesterol.

Ideally total cholesterol should be 4.0-5.0mmol/L but in the UK the average is 5.5mmol/L for men and 5.6mmol/L for women. High cholesterol increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, dementia.

How to lower cholesterol

  • Eat more oily fish
  • Take a fish/algal oil supplement (to boost good HDL cholesterol)
  • Include more fibre (oats, vegetables, fruit)
  • Use olive oil for cooking. Don’t fry foods
  • Include some exercise
  • Reduce red meat to less than twice per week
  • Cut back on cheese, crisps, butter
  • Reduce alcohol and smoking

NHS Health Check

If you live in England you should have been invited to have a free NHS Health Check appointment when you turn 40 and every 5 years after that. If you haven’t received an invitation or you haven’t been yet, please book an appointment now.

The NHS Health Check will give you a cardiovascular risk score. The Nurse will take your cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure, weight, height, lifestyle history.

If you’d like to find out more tips to improve your health, check out our webinars and our Bitesize Nutrition podcasts. If you’re new to podcasts you can listen free without registration on your phone or PC by clicking on the podcast link in this paragraph, or you can find Bitesize Nutrition on iTunes & Spotify.

Don’t forget to let us know what you think using #nutritionchallenge30

A reminder:

  • The information in this article is for educational purposes and should not replace medical advice.
  • The information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.
  • If you have a diagnosed medical condition, you should consult a doctor before making any major changes to your diet, and;
  • Some supplements may interact with medications and you should check with your GP before commencing any supplement programme.
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Day 11 – Have you made banana bread yet?
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