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Ask Elsa: High blood pressure

Q I keep on hearing about the importance of eating seeds but I’ve never tried them myself. Can you tell me which ones arethe best and suggest some ways to eat them?

A Seeds are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They're a good source of protein, as well as countless vitamins, minerals, essential fats and fibre. I recommend that you eat a tablespoon of seeds a day for optimum health. All seeds are good for you but there are three which are nutritional heavyweight champions — flax (linseed), chia and pumpkin seeds. If you don't eat much oily fish, these seeds are especially important as they will give you omega-3 fatty acids which have countless health and mood-boosting properties. Certain seeds, such as flax, are more nutritious when ground.

I recommend that you fill a glass jar that has a sealing lid with a combination of a few different seeds and keep it in the fridge to minimise damage by light, heat and oxygen. Every few days put a handful of them into a coffee or seed grinder, grind them up and put a tablespoon over your food and store the remainder in the fridge and use over the next few days. There are lots of easy ways to use seeds. They work really well sprinkled over porridge, muesli, yogurts, smoothies or salads. You can also use them in baking.

Q I’m in my late 30s and have recently been told that my blood pressure is a little high for my age. I’ve been told to take up exercise and reduce stress, what would you suggest diet-wise?

A Exercising regularly and reducing stress will be vital in preventing the condition from getting any worse as you age. Diet is equally important. I recommend that you increase foods to improve circulation and cardiovascular health such as anti-oxidant rich foods like blueberries, cherries, green tea, chillies, garlic, turmeric, ginger and olive oil.

Try to consume oily fish such as mackerel, salmon or sardines three times a week to improve circulation. A magnesium deficiency may result in high blood pressure due to causing nervous tension and constriction of the blood vessels, so eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils.

Reduce the amount of salt you consume in your diet. Finally, consider losing some weight if needed. Being overweight causes the cardiovascular system to work overtime which often places an extra strain on circulation. Following a low GL diet is one of the best ways to manage weight, see my website for details.

Elsa Jones is a nutritional therapist and presenter of 'How Healthy are You?' which can be viewed on Wednesdays at 4.05pm on TV3. Elsa offers one-to-one consultations to meet your individual health requirements as well as group workshops. www.elsajones nutrition.ie