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. Just queue as you would do wanting to buy something and when you get to the front 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 have high blood pressure and half 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 a result greater than 140/90mmHg. Systolic is the top number and is 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 (>6g = 1 teaspoon) per day
  • Being overweight
  • Over 65yrs old
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Drink too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Suffer insomnia
  • Smoke

How to lower blood pressure

  • Drink less caffeine and alcohol, and drink more water
  • Cut out adding salt to cooking and served food
  • Take some exercise
  • Eat more food with good fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, fish)
  • Try mindfulness like 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/fish 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 when you turn 40 and every 5 years after you should be invited to have a free NHS Health Check appointment. 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.

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


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