by Dr. Phil Domenico
(NaturalNews) A recent New York Times article is calling for more people to control their blood pressure (BP). According to the CDC, 67 million Americans have high BP, and 36 million with uncontrolled high BP could greatly add to our healthcare burden. They argue for control of BP through drugs, but diet and exercise are far better options.
While paying lip service to diet and exercise, this call to action is obviously tied to the pharmaceutical industry, which could profit greatly from getting more people on drugs. They insist that medication should be part of the treatment, that drugs effectively treat patients with severe hypertension, and that treating high BP causes few major problems.
Nevertheless, it is always best to explore natural solutions first. Drugs cannot improve health like lifestyle changes and dietary intervention can. Controlling BP with drugs is also associated with an increased risk of death. Diet and exercise reduce the healthcare burden far better than meds, and show benefits far beyond BP control.
Foods for healthy BP include dark chocolate, which a recent meta-analysis supported for reducing BP. Whey protein boosts glutathione and nitric oxide, which protect and relax blood vessels. Fatty fish provide protein and omega-3 fat, which significantly reduce triglycerides and improve blood vessel elasticity. Luteolin-containing foods like celery, citrus, green peppers, thyme, and chamomile may easily improve BP. So can garlic, onion, apples and other quercetin-containing foods. Replacing table salt with unrefined sea salt or potassium-balanced salts may also improve BP. Potassium-rich coconut water was shown to reduce BP significantly. Sweet potatoes contain potassium and beta-carotene, which helps prevent plaque-related diseases. Magnesium and other nutrients in greens, beans, nuts and seeds can also reduce BP. Finally, non-starchy fruits (berries, pomegranate) and vegetables can improve all indices of cardiovascular health. Conversely, starchy foods, refined carbohydrates and trans fats contribute to high BP.
Dietary supplements are also effective in managing BP. High-dose vitamin D reduced inflammation, insulin resistance, deaths from cardiovascular complications, and reduced BP by 20 percent. Olive leaf, grape seed, resveratrol, hawthorn, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, and capsaicin have been shown independently to reduce BP. B vitamins that contribute to a healthy BP include folate, B2 and B6. Conversely, supplements associated with increased BP include ephedra, Siberian ginseng, bitter orange and licorice.
People are developing higher BP at an alarming rate, setting the stage for future cardiovascular disease. The intelligent solution to reduce BP and to reduce its enormous burden on healthcare is to adopt healthier lifestyle changes, rather than resort to dangerous medications.
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About the author:
Dr. Phil Domenico is a nutritional scientist and educator with a research background in biochemistry and microbiology. Formerly an infectious disease research scientist, he now works as a consultant for supplement companies and the food industry.