Diet and blood pressure

Given the evidence that high blood pressure can negatively effect heart disease risk, lowering blood pressure with diet is perhaps a reasonable goal. The following are my recommendations for lowering blood pressure with food.

1. Garlic seems to lower blood pressure (1). In fact, garlic seems to be one of the most effective anti-hypertensive foods studied on humans.

2. Hibiscus tea seems to powerfully reduce blood pressure (2,3) although it hasn’t been as thoroughly studied as the other items on this list.

3. Two minerals which appear to lower blood pressure somewhat are potassium (5) and magnesium (6). These minerals can be found in most fruits and vegetables. Calcium produces a fairly small reduction in blood pressure (7). Perhaps because it provides both calcium, potassium, and some magnesium dairy products appear to lower blood pressure to a decent degree (8). Fermented dairy, such as yogurt, may produce even greater reductions in blood pressure (9-11).

4. Although sodium is probably the first thing a lot of people think of when talking about diet and lowering blood pressure I think some caution is needed. I have a post upcoming on sodium, but essentially sodium may be worth lowering if a person has a large intake (10 grams a day, for example) but at a certain point sodium restriction may cause health problems. Some studies have suggested low sodium intakes may worsen insulin sensitivity and even shorten lifespan. I recommend roughly 1 to 1 & 1/2 teaspoon/ of salt per day, or about 2000 to 3000 mg of sodium for most people.

References:

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18554422
2. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/140/2/298.short
3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874198001573
4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711309002293
5. http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v17/n7/full/1001575a.html
6. http://ajh.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/8/691.short
7. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=399639
8. http://realhealthanswers.com/docs/Journal-Articles/MiscFruit/NE%20Journal%20of%20Medicine%20-%20Dietary%20Patterns%20on%20Blood%20Pressure.pdf
9. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/64/5/767.short
10. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/77/2/326.full.pdf+html
11. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089570610400754X

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