Sunday, June 15, 2008

Preventing High Blood Pressure Naturally

It's been a topic of increased conversation lately; how to reduce high blood pressure naturally. Each individual is different; but there are some common changes and supplements to take that can naturally reduce high blood pressure.

Most doctors recommend that patients try to restore a healthy blood pressure level by first making lifestyle changes. Here are some natural ways to prevent or reduce high blood pressure:

  • Stop smoking. Not only will this help keep your blood pressure in line, you'll also diminish your risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Shed excess pounds. There's a direct link between being overweight and having high blood pressure. The more overweight you are, the greater the risk. Start by making small changes. Cut 200 to 300 calories from your diet each day — about the equivalent of saying "no" to two chocolate chip cookies.
  • Decrease salt intake. High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure. You should consume no more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day (about one teaspoon of salt). The average American consumes twice that, often through canned soups, frozen dinners, soy sauce, pickles, olives and processed cheeses, which are loaded with sodium. Read food labels and select reduced-sodium products.
  • Add more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products to your plate. Eat one additional fruit or vegetable with every meal. Shrink the size of your daily meat intake to six ounces, and designate at least two dinners a week as meat-free.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Drink no more than one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine or one swallow (1.5 ounces) of 80-proof whiskey if you’re a woman. Men can double these amounts. Anything more elevates blood pressure.
  • Exercise. First, get the green light from your physician. Then, slowly introduce aerobic exercise into your life, increasing the time and intensity at a pace that feels right, aiming for at least a 30-minute workout most days of the week.

I am a huge fan of diet changes to see significant positive results in lowering high blood pressure. Incorporating little fat, cholesterol, red meat, or sweets, but lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, this DASH diet takes its name from the comprehensive "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension " study. The DASH diet has the greatest effect and after just 2 weeks individuals see results.

Why does DASH work? "While the diet is rich in vitamins and minerals that have been linked to lower blood pressure, it's not these nutrients alone but the whole dietary package that works," explains Eva Obarzanek, PhD, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and a project officer for the DASH study.

Previous studies testing the blood pressure-lowering effects of supplements containing some individual nutrients were inconclusive. "It is possible that some nutrients have small effects individually, but when you get them all together in this diet, you see a significant effect on blood pressure," she says.

Though the DASH diet wasn't designed to promote weight loss, you can easily modify it so you'll trim down by cutting back on servings and substituting lower-calorie for higher-calorie food choices.

Shake Off Sodium

To get even better results, follow the DASH diet and cut back on sodium, Dr. Obarzanek suggests. A follow-up to the DASH study, called "DASH-Sodium," found that doing both lowered blood pressure more than following the diet alone. In the study, even people with normal blood pressure lowered their blood pressure when they cut back on sodium.

Cutting sodium means more than going easy on the saltshaker, which contributes just 15 percent of the sodium in the typical American diet. In addition to seasoning the foods you cook with spices, herbs, lemon, and salt-free seasoning blends, watch for sodium in processed foods, Dr. Obarzanek warns. Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed foods, she says.

But since there's no way to tell whether any one individual is sodium sensitive, everyone should lower his sodium intake, says Dr. Obarzanek. How far? To 1,500 mg daily, about half the average American intake, she says. (Half a teaspoon of salt contains about 1,200 mg of sodium.

In addition to dietary and lifestyle changes- there are a few herbal remedies that are very helpful in supporting lowered blood pressure. Hawthorne berry, olive leaf, linden flower, bean pod and mistletoe herb all normalize high blood pressure. These 5 extracts aid in treating essential hypertension and its associated arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Herb Pharm combines all 5 in a cardiovascular tonic.

Also, raw onion and garlic have hypotensive action. The onions in raw form contain postaglandin A1 which reduces blood pressure and garlic contains ajoene which is an antithrombotic factor that inhibits the fibrinogen receptors of on blood platelets Eating lots of raw ginger will also positively impact high blood pressure.


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