Nutrition. Education. Transformation.

How to Lower Blood Pressure with Nutrition

May 14, 2011

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Hypertension is high blood pressure.

Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and usually given as two numbers — for example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). One or both of these numbers can be too high.

The top number is your systolic pressure. It is considered high if it is over 140 most of the time and it is considered normal if it is below 120 most of the time.

The bottom number is your diastolic pressure. It is considered high if it is over 90 most of the time and is considered normal if it is below 80 most of the time.

Pre-hypertension may be considered when your top number (systolic blood pressure) is between 120 and 139 most of the time and the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is between 80 and 89 most of the time.

Blood pressure problems may be nothing more than an imbalance in the fluids of the body, with the kidneys and adrenals needing nutritional support. Hypertension affects over 60 million Americans; almost 40 percent of those affected are African American and more than half of the population over the age of 60 have some degree of hypertension. Usually there are no symptoms, but irregular heartbeat, fatigue, headache, confusion and vision changes may be experienced.

Here are some of the diet and lifestyle causes of hypertension:

  • The single most significant factor is excessive body weight
  • Stress is another factor in elevated blood pressure.
  • Salt: creates a mineral imbalance directly affecting the calcium level. Processed foods and meals from restaurants are very high in sodium. Hypertensive people likely to benefit from sodium reduction include those who are African American, obese, over 65 years of age, those who have genetic tendencies towards high blood pressure, and those taking antihypertensive medications.
  • Non-organic, grain fed meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables and eggs: Non-organic agriculture uses high amounts of synthetic organophosphates which end up in our food, creating a very high phosphorus content. The high phosphorous content upsets calcium and magnesium levels, affecting blood pressure. Synthetic phosphorus also concentrates the amounts of heavy metals, like cadmium and uranium, in non-organic soils and food.1
  • Purchasing grass-fed organic meat and dairy, organic fruits and vegetables, and eggs from hens given a semi-wild diet corrects the balance in the food and in turn your body. Actually, eggs contain a protein that acts like an ingredient in ACE inhibitors — popular blood pressure lowering medications — according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. They are also a good source of EPA and DHA. The eggs MUST be from hens fed on a natural diet of insects, flax seeds and little grain. Supermarket grain-fed eggs contain as much as 19 times more omega-6’s to omega-3’s, creating inflammatory conditions.
  • Sodas: Sodas are high in phosphoric acid, also contributing to the calcium and magnesium imbalance.
  • Coffee: Briefly raises blood pressure for 3-4 hours.
  • Refined Sugar: when refined sugar is eaten, there is an even greater increase in blood pressure than if salt were eaten alone.
  • Smoking: Cigarettes are high in cadmium. Cadmium poisoning is a very subtle process. It deposits in the kidneys, causing kidney damage, and settles in the arteries, raising the blood pressure. There is more cadmium in second- hand smoke than there is in that inhaled by the smoker.
  • Tap water: Soft water is high in sodium, while hard water is high in magnesium. Tap water can contain a multitude of heavy metals.
  • Low testosterone: Men whose testosterone levels were slightly above average were 45% less likely to have high blood pressure, 72% less likely to have experienced a heart attack and 75% less likely to be obese than men whose levels were slightly below average.

Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium for High Blood Pressure

A sensible, healthy, diversified eating plan works well for hypertension. Remember, it is a mineral imbalance so “everything in moderation” is the key phrase. Many people consume too much sodium chloride from processed food and lack potassium, which promotes urinary sodium excretion, reduces calcium and magnesium excretion, may induce vascular smooth muscle relaxation and affects rennin to regulate blood pressure.

Your best sources for potassium are coconut water, prune juice, bananas, avocados, winter squash, yams, mango, papaya, cantaloupe, potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, and cow and goat dairy. Coconut water stands out as one of the best drinks to lower blood pressure. In one study, 71% of the people that consumed coconut water significantly lowered their blood pressure.2 Low fiber is also a problem because fiber can significantly lower blood pressure.3

Low intake of calcium is linked to high blood pressure. It also regulates insulin secretion and function and is important for maintaining a healthy body weight. Low magnesium is associated with increased smooth muscle tension, vasospasms and higher blood pressure. It is required as a cofactor for enzymes involved in fatty acid metabolism for the synthesis of prostaglandins, which can influence blood pressure. It also regulates insulin secretion and function, important for maintaining a healthy body weight. Focus on dark greens, almonds and Gerolsteiner Mineral Water for calcium.

INCREASE POTASSIUM, CALCIUM AND MAGNESIUM RICH FOODS

POTASSIUM RICH FOODS

Swiss chard (960 mg for 1 cup)
Avocado (874 mg for 1 cup)
Spinach (838 mg for 1 cup)
Crimini mushrooms (635 mg in 5 ounces)
Coconut Water (600mg for 1 cup)
Broccoli (505 mg for 1 cup)
Brussels sprouts (494 mg for 1 cup)
Celery (344 mg for 1 cup)
Romaine lettuce (324 mg for 2 cups)
Yogurt (255mg for 1 cup)
Wild salmon (1256mg for 6 oz.)
Banana (422mg)
Sweet potato (542mg)
Kale (299mg for 1 cup raw) 
Tomato sauce (811mg for 1 cup)
Apple (195mg for 1 apple)

MAGNESIUM RICH FOODS

Raw spinach (24mg for 1 cup)
Raw swiss chard (29mg for 1 cup)
Raw pumpkin seeds (42mg for 1/4 cup)
Avocado (58mg for 1 medium)
Yogurt (47mg for 1 cup)
Banana (32mg for 1 medium)
Dark chocolate (95mg for 1 square)
Almonds (62mg for 1/4 cup)
Pine nuts (84mg for 1/4 cup)
Sunflower seeds (114mg for 1/4 cup)
Artichoke (77mg for 1 medium)
Hemp Seeds (179mg of magnesium per ounce)

Garlic for High Blood Pressure

Raw garlic in tablet form – but not cooked – has been found to reduce blood pressure. A review of 21 studies on humans found supplements of dried garlic containing a guaranteed dose of the active ingredient allicin consistently led to reductions in blood pressure.

Example Menu for Hypertension

Breakfast

  1. 2 poached eggs with brown rice, cilantro and salsa
  2. 6 oz yogurt with cut apples, chia seeds and 1 slice sprouted grain bread with almond butter
  3. Oatmeal with apples, cinnamon, flax seeds and honey
  4. Smoothie:
  • 8 ounces coconut water
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 avocado or 1/2 banana
  • 1 serving protein powder
  • 4 ice cubes

Lunch

  1. Salmon with wild rice, mushrooms and vegetables
  2. Turkey and goat cheese sandwich with sprouted grain bread and fruit
  3. Chicken lettuce wrap with sliced onion, avocado and hummus. One side of coastal millet (see recipes)
  4. Grass-fed beef meatloaf and green beans with lemon and butter

Snacks: 1 of the following

  1. 6oz yogurt with chia seeds
  2. 1 pear and sliced goat cheese
  3. Orange and 8 almonds
  4. 1 banana with 1 TB peanut butter
  5. Figs and goat cheese

Dinner

  1. Chicken Vegetable Soup and Salad
  2. Shrimp stir fry with brown rice and vegetables, mixed green salad with avocado and carrots
  3. Baked chicken breast and 1 cup steamed broccoli and carrots
  4. Turkey breast with onions, carrots, potatoes and a green salad with olives, feta, cucumber and tomato with olive oil and vinegar

There is a long list of antihypertensive medications. The most common are Thiazide diuretics that increase urination and deplete magnesium, potassium, zinc, sodium and CoQ10.

Recommended Supplements to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Although high blood pressure has primarily and most publicly been linked to sodium intake, other nutrients play a role in blood pressure control. Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, potassium and sodium all work together to regulate blood pressure. Vitamin C, E, carotenoids and CoQ10 also play a role in regulating blood pressure. Blood pressure medications can deplete potassium, magnesium, zinc and CoQ10, and it is recommended to supplement with these to avoid deficiency related health disorders.

*Interesting fact: consumption of diets that meet or exceed the recommendations for calcium, potassium and magnesium have not been associated with hypertension, even when the diet was high in sodium chloride.3,4 This means that it is the balance of minerals that is important; when one is too high it creates abnormal pressure.

1. Thorne Research Vitamin C with Flavonoids

A lack of vitamin C results in tiny cracks in the walls of the blood vessels, which makes the body produce more LDL to fill the cracks. Vitamin C keeps the blood vessels strong, lowers blood pressure, promotes vasodilation, reduces circulating cholesterol, while also clearing the inner walls of fat deposits. It is easily depleted by stress, pollution, illness, exercise and sugar, and a review of 50,000 studies will show the most effective doses are above 1000mg.

Vitamin C also promotes the production of coenzyme Q10 and may lower the harmful Lp(a). Vitamin C has also been shown to protect HDL cholesterol from lipid oxidation and lower triglycerides. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that people with the highest blood levels and daily intakes of vitamin C are at as much as a 50% reduced risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular diseases. It can also prevent seasonal allergies as a natural anti-histamine, sinus congestion and improves immunity. Vitamin C should be 100 percent l-ascorbic acid, fully reduced and non GMO.

2. Thorne Research Magnesium Citramate

Low magnesium is associated with increased smooth muscle tension, vasospasms and higher blood pressure. It is required as a cofactor for enzymes involved in fatty acid metabolism for the synthesis of prostaglandins, which can influence blood pressure. It also regulates insulin secretion and function, important for maintaining a healthy body weight. 

Inadequate magnesium intake has been linked to several types of cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis, heart attack, angina, ischemic heart disease and cardiac arrhythmias. In the 1930’s, doctors use to prescribe magnesium for heart disease due to it’s synergistic effect on calcium to help regulate electrical impulses and prevent calcium from depositing in soft tissues. Epidemiological studies show that death rates from coronary heart disease are higher in areas where the water is low in magnesium. Today, up to 80 percent of people are magnesium deficient due to depleted water supplies and depleted top soil due to modern agricultural practices.

3. Alfalfa

Alfalfa provides an extra source of potassium, magnesium and trace minerals for those that do not eat enough vegetables.

4. Ashwagandha

If stress is a major factor regarding high blood pressure, ashwagandha lowers blood pressure by blunting the excess cortisol response from the adrenal glands.

5. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega

The blood pressure-lowering effects of fish oil, rich in EPA and DHA, have been attributed in part to enhanced prostaglandins that promote vasodilatation and inhibits platelet aggregation.

6. Liquid Vitamin D3

Vitamin D appears to down-regulate both renin and angiotensin production, thereby lowering blood pressure. Optimize vitamin D levels to be between 40-50ng/ml.

 

Sources:

1. Taylor MD (1997). “Accumulation of Cadmium derived from fertilizers in New Zealand soils”. Science of Total Environment 208: 123–126. doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(97)00273-8
2.Alleyne T, Roache S, Thomas C, Shirley A. The control of hypertension by use of coconut water and mauby: two tropical food drinks. West Indian Med J. 2005 Jan;54(1):3-8.
3.McCarron D. role of adequate dietary calcium intake in the prevention and management of slat-sensitive hypertension. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65721S-26S
4. Heaney RP. Role of dietary sodium in osteoporosis. J Am Coll Nutr 2006; 25:271S-76S
5. Gropper SS , Smith JL, Groff, JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning; 2009
6. Testosterone. http://men.webmd.com/features/keep-testosterone-in-balance

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