When it comes to natural remedies for high blood pressure, there are many options available, including ones related to diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.
Fortunately, a blood pressure friendly diet also supports necessary weight loss, along with healthy levels of blood sugar, lipids, and cholesterol. When you make smart dietary changes, you’re creating a climate in which your body can find overall balance and well-being.
“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”—known as the DASH diet—is widely recommended for hypertensive patients. The DASH diet restricts salt and saturated fat and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends the DASH diet for all hypertensive patients.
Specific recommendations of the DASH diet include:
- Only 30 percent of total caloric intake from fats.
- Eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Seven or eight servings of whole grains daily.
- One to five servings of seeds and nuts each week.
Focus on whole, unprocessed foods as the Standard American Diet provides alarmingly low levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium—nutrients that are vital for healthy blood pressure. In sharp contrast, the Mediterranean diet is rich in minimally processed plant foods and omega-3 fatty acids. This diet has also been favorably compared to drug treatments in The American Journal of Medicine for reducing hypertension and high triglyceride levels.
The adage “eat for color” is excellent advice. The phytochemicals that create those rich colors are the same ones that protect our health. Deeply colored foods, such as oranges, peppers, beets, and broccoli, are also the most nutrient-rich.
There are also several supplements that safely and effectively lower blood pressure naturally. Here are some of the ones I recommend.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)is one of the most important nutrients for the cardiovascular system because it is involved in cellular energy production and is a powerful antioxidant. Supplementing with CoQ10 has also been found to lower blood pressure naturally. In one double-blind placebo-controlled study, 46 men and 37 women with systolic hypertension were given 60 mg of CoQ10 or a placebo twice a day. After 12 weeks, there was a very impressive average reduction in systolic blood pressure of 17.8 mm Hg in the group taking CoQ10. Not only do we become deficient in CoQ10 as we age, but many prescription drugs deplete CoQ10, especially statin drugs.
- Omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are important for overall cardiovascular health. And, more specifically, research has shown that increased consumption of omega-3s can lower blood pressure naturally. Cold-water fish, is the most abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Because most of us get too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3s in our diet, I believe it is critical to take omega-3 supplements that contain fish oil.
- Olive Oil is well-known for its cardiovascular benefits. But olive leaves have also recently emerged as a highly-touted boon to health. They contain a substance known as oleuropein, which has been demonstrated to boost the immune system and to also lower blood pressure naturally. Benolea is a special patented olive leaf extract that is standardized for oleuropein and has been clinically shown to inhibit the enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict. Look for products that contain Benolea olive leaf extract, and use as directed. As far as olive oil, it only takes small quantities as it high in calories. Also, avoid cooking with olive oil and instead use it in salad dressings as olive oil has a low smoke point resulting in it becoming rancid at high temperatures. When rancid, it can do more harm than good! Choose other oils for high-heat cooking such as sesame or grapeseed oil.
- CitraNox (from Ortho Molecular) is a great product that is formulated to maintain healthy blood pressure levels by improving endothelial cell and arterial function. It is a combination of high-dose L-citrulline, quercetin and grape seed extract. It supports inflammatory balance, arterial elasticity, optimal nitric oxide levels and blood flow. Another good product is Neo-40 from Humann.
- Aged Garlic Extract (I recommend the Kyolic brand) is promoted for its LDL cholesterol lowering properties, but it also demonstrates a mild blood pressure lowering effect. This product has been well studied and appears to lower blood pressure by increasing the flexibility of the arteries and improving blood circulation. In one study, researchers at Brown University School of Medicine investigated the impact of AGE on 41 men between the ages of 32 to 68. Participants were given either nine 800-mg aged garlic extract capsules or a placebo daily. After six months, the groups switched, so the former placebo group took AGE for four months. Although this study focused on cholesterol levels, researchers also found a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure associated with taking AGE. No adverse effects were reported.
If you have been consuming the Standard American Diet, the first step is to eat more plant based foods and avoid processed foods. If you are currently taking prescription blood pressure medications and implement the recommendations discussed above, make sure to monitor your blood pressure and work with your physician as you may see significant reductions in blood pressure.
Mike Woodley, R.Ph., FAARM, ABAAHP
Chief Health Officer