The thing about high blood pressure is that at least 25% of folks who have it don’t know they have it.
It flies under the radar. No pain, no symptoms, (though it’s often been quipped that the first symptom of high blood pressure is a heart attack). About one out of three adults in the US has it. And high blood pressure (or hypertension) is responsible for over 56,000 deaths a year in the US alone.
How to Protect Yourself
Pretty much everything I know of value about hypertension I learned from Dr. Mark Houston, as did most of the nutritionists and doctors with whom I’ve trained. He’s an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and director of the Hypertension Institute in Nashville.
“People concentrate on sodium restriction”, explains Houston, “but it’s equally important to look at the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet”.
These two minerals have a symbiotic relationship, and that the balance of the two is critical to good health. Unfortunately the American diet is woefully high in sodium and typically low in both potassium as well as magnesium, another mineral important for regulating blood pressure. “Even if you had a very high sodium intake, you could negate some of the negative impact of that sodium by having a high intake of potassium and magnesium”, explained Dr. Houston.
The Institute of Medicine now recommends that adults consume at least 4700 mg of potassium a day to lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt.
Foods high in potassium include:
- Swiss chard
- grapefruit juice
- dried apricots
- yams and sweet potatoes
“I give my patients a specially modified version of the DASH diet that I believe is the best diet possible for people with hypertension,” Houston told me. “The main change is to increase the amount of protein, vegetables, and ‘good’ fats consumed every day, while decreasing the grains, fruits, and dairy products. It’s much lower in refined carbohydrates, and has a lower glycemic index and glycemic load. Otherwise it’s the same great, pressure-reducing program that’s helped so many.
And what about supplements? Glad you asked.
CoQ10 is widely given in Europe and Japan to millions of people suffering from cardiovascular disease. People with essential hypertension are more likely to have a CoQ10 deficiency than those without hypertension. It’s been an approved treatment for congestive heart failure in Japan since 1974, and Dr. Houston considers it one of the best natural treatments for high blood pressure.
I recommend: Q-Avail Nano »
Large population studies have shown that the more magnesium people take in, the lower their blood pressures. Virtually every survey has shown that most Americans don’t even get the paltry amount of magnesium in the RDAs.
I recommend: Magnesium Glycinate Chelate »
Whey protein is a natural ACE iInhibitor, in addition to being a superb source of high- quality, absorbable protein. ACE inhibitors, short for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, help reduce blood pressure by interfering with an enzyme that causes the constriction of muscles surrounding the arteries to constrict, thus raising blood pressure. “Hydrolyized whey protein lowers blood pressure,” says Dr. Houston.
I recommend: PaleoMeal Whey Protein »
“Vitamin D is very important in BP control due to an effect on a hormone call renin, that controls blood pressure. If Vitamin D is low, renin is increased and this in turn causes the arteries to constrict and increase the blood pressure,” says Houston. (He generally recommends 5000 IUs a day, or whatever amount is needed to bring blood levels up to 60 ng/ml.)
I recommend: Vitamin D Supreme »
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
“They increase nitric oxide- a substance that opens up blood vessels—and they improve the elasticity of the arteries”. Use about 2 grams daily.
I recommend: Ultra EPA-DHA »
“Resveratrol also increases nitric oxide, lowers arterial stiffness and slows vascular aging”, Houston told me. Recommended: 250 mg per day (of trans-resveratrol, the active ingredient in resveratrol supplements). My favorite kind is Resveratrol by Reserverage, but we don’t sell it on my website because our distributor can’t get it. However you can get it in stores like the Vitamin Shoppe. I like it because it’s standardized to trans-resveratrol and each capsule contains 250 mg of trans.