This is Rob, owner of westcairn.com. I’d like to tell you how I managed to reduce my blood pressure from 167/103 in January to 116/75 in October. In other words, I took my blood pressure from a dangerous level, with a 15% chance of a heart attack or stroke in three years, to a normal level with little chance of a heart attack or a stroke, by my own efforts.
I did this with no prescription medication but by using by a combination of diet changes to reduce my salt intake, hawthorn berry supplements and moderate exercise (brisk walk of 3 miles/4 kilometers a day).
I don’t know which of the changes I made in my life was the most beneficial, and it may have simply been a combination of all three.
Ad you probably know already, the main source of excess sodium in a typical western diet is bread. Bakers claim that salt is needed to give the bread texture and to make it rise properly; as a side effect of this, people become accustomed to the salty taste of bread. I used to eat at least 8 slices of bread a day, and often 12 slices.
When my doctor told me about my high blood pressure and threatened to put me on blood thinning medication I decided to take changes in hand myself. The first change I made was to start making my own bread in a breadmaker, without any added salt. To add some flavor I would put in raisins, sultanas, shredded coconut, chopped dried apple rings, or cranberries. But the added ingredients disintegrated as the breadmaker beat the dough. So the bread was bland and I soon gave that up, and switched to eating salt-free crackers. After a few weeks of this I realized I needed something else.
So I used the recipe below to make Naan bread. I made the dough in the breadmaker, then kneaded it by hand when it was ready, and added the extra ingredients then. Because naan bread is only in the oven for a few minutes, the added ingredients don’t break down and do retain their flavor. In addition, the browned edges of the naan when they are done give extra flavor and texture. Naan bread has become my staple now. If the additions or toppings on the bread are tasty enough, the bread itself doesn’t have to be, although over the months as you cut down the salt in your diet your taste will change and ‘normal’ salty food will seem excessively salty.
I have also found that having a blood pressure monitor helps tremendously to motivate me to keep up with my new diet, moderate exercise and the hawthorn supplements. Over the months, as I recorded the readings from the monitor, I could see my readings trending down, until at last I got to a safe level. So I would recommend everyone with high blood pressure to get a monitor of their own. They are not expensive. Some are listed on the right side of this page (or below on a mobile device).
Here is the recipe (makes about 12-14 naans, enough for a week of lunches for one person):
10 fluid ounces (300ml) tepid fully skimmed milk
1 sachet (usually one quarter ounce or 7 grams) of fast action yeast
10 fluid ounces (300ml) ml low fat yogurt
32 oz (900g) strong or high grade white flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil or rapeseed oil
1 beaten egg
Chopped nuts, or raisins or sultanas, or shredded coconut, or dried cranberries, or chopped dried apple rings or other dried fruit to taste, or combinations of these (a handful will do). You can also add herbs like coriander, or a small amount of chopped onion.
Method 1 – by hand
You can mix all the ingredients except the fruit or nuts in a bowl, then knead for 10 minutes, then leave it the dough to rise in a warm place. When it has doubled in size, add the fruit or nuts and knead again. Divide into 12 pieces and ‘pull’ or roll the pieces into a flat shape. Bake in the oven at its hottest temperature until the naans are slightly brown at the edges. You will have to do a few at a time.
Method 2 – using a breadmaker
Put all the ingredients except the dried fruit and nuts in the breadmaker on the dough setting (usually about 2.5 hours) and let it do the kneading for you. When the dough is ready, remove it and mix in the dried fruit and/or nuts. Divide into 12 pieces, flatten the pieces and bake in your oven at its hottest temperature until the naans are slightly brown at the edges. This only takes a few minutes.
The naans can be eaten fresh, or they can be frozen for later use.