(NaturalHealth365) Medical doctors have dubbed hypertension “the silent killer,” and the nickname is appropriate. High blood pressure, which currently affects over 67 million Americans, typically has no symptoms; yet greatly increases your risk for a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, and kidney disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), high blood pressure causes the United States $47.5 billion health care dollars a year. Even more disturbing is the fact that it either directly causes – or contributes to – 1,000 deaths across the country every day. If you’re looking for a simple way to avoid these problems – keep reading.
Educate yourself and avoid needless suffering
Most of the time there is no identifiable cause for high blood pressure, although being overweight, leading a sedentary life, eating too much salt, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes all can raise your risk. In some cases, an underlying medical condition – such as kidney disease, adrenal gland tumors, thyroid disease, and sleep apnea – are responsible.
At what point is blood pressure considered “too high?”
According to most conventionally-trained physicians, a blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 is considered normal. Levels of 120 to 129 over 80 to 90 are considered “prehypertension,” while readings of 140 to 159 over 90 to 99 are categorized as Stage 1 hypertension. Finally, readings north of 160 over 100 are considered Stage 2.
Doctors prescribe a wide range of drugs to control blood pressure, including beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors and thiazide diuretics. Although these medications can be effective, they feature side effects. Thiazide diuretics, for example, can wreak havoc with levels of beneficial HDL, raise triglycerides and total cholesterol, plus increase your risk of diabetes.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lower your blood pressure safely and naturally.
Watermelon’s amino acids have dramatic effects on blood pressure
You may want to simply start snacking on watermelon. In a study conducted at Florida State University and published in the American Journal of Hypertension, researchers found that watermelon significantly reduced blood pressure in people who were overweight. Two of watermelon’s constituents, the amino acids citrulline and arginine, had a positive impact on aortic blood pressure, and reduced myocardial oxygen demand.
An earlier study, published in 2010 in American Journal of Hypertension, demonstrated that L-citrulline and L-arginine extracted from watermelon had vasodilatory (or blood vessel widening) effects that improved arterial function and lowered pressure in people who were prehypertensive.
If watermelon isn’t readily available, citrulline malate can be taken as a supplement.
Olive oil inhibits an enzyme responsible for raising blood pressure
Olive oil, a key component of the popular Mediterranean diet, is widely acknowledged to reduce the risk of heart disease. Generally speaking, researchers are finding that healthy minimally-processed fats have blood pressure-lowering effects. I love coconut oil and it’s good for the heart and brain function.
It turns out that raw olive oil – a popular ingredient in salad dressings – really is a perfect way to flavor your greens. In a new study published in May 2014 in PNAS, the Journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that olive oil combines with nitrite and nitrates in lettuce and other vegetables to form nitro fatty acids, or NFAs. These fatty acids inhibit an enzyme, soluble epoxide hydrolase, which raises blood pressure.
The good news just keeps coming with olive oil. In addition to lowering blood pressure and promoting cardiovascular health, it has been linked to protection against breast cancer and diabetes.
Vitamin D: the “sunshine vitamin” offers blood pressure benefits
In a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study presented at a 2012 meeting of the European Society of Hypertension, researchers found that vitamin D supplementation in wintertime helped lower the blood pressure of hypertensive European patients who were low in this essential nutrient. The team noted that many Europeans have low vitamin D levels – particularly in February, when natural sunlight is in short supply.
According to the Life Extension Foundation, vitamin D accomplishes its beneficial effect by suppressing the expression of renin, a blood pressure hormone. In order to achieve adequate vitamin D Levels, which LEF typifies as between 60 and 70 nanograms per milliliter, 6,000 IU per day is the recommended dosage.
Reduce your intake of salt – especially conventional varieties
The CDC says that if the average national daily intake of salt were reduced from 3,400 milligrams to the 2,300 milligrams recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the number of people with high blood pressure could be cut by as much as 11 million, saving the nation $18 billion dollars annually – along with countless lives. Of course, the Mayo Clinic does not identify the difference between overly-processed table salt (with no minerals) and sea salt – which is loaded with essential minerals.
The Mayo Clinic advises no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day for those who have been diagnosed with hypertension, or are over 50. You can control your sodium intake by carefully reading food labels. After all, most excessive sodium intake is due to the consumption of processed food. If you really want to protect your cardiovascular system – avoid foods with a label and eat mostly natural, unprocessed food.
Keep in mind, many high-sodium foods are also loaded with chemical preservatives, sugar and empty calories.
To break a dependency on the salt shaker, try some fresh spices like rosemary and thyme or sprinkle some fresh, organic lemon juice on your food. These natural salt alternatives are bursting with antioxidants and delicious flavor.
Eliminate toxic ‘trans fats’ from your diet
It’s best to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy with these harmful fats, which raise blood pressure and increase your risk of a heart attack, cancer and diabetes. Tip-offs to their presence are the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” fats on food labels. Bottom line – avoid these toxic fats at all costs.
Many health experts recommend the ‘DASH Diet’, which was created to help lower blood pressure, and has been clinically shown to be effective. The emphasis is on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products. These foods are loaded with blood pressure lowering nutrients like, potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber. Just remember – shop organically as much as you can.
Of course, you should never attempt to treat your high blood pressure – or any other medical condition – with foods and supplements unless you are under the supervision of a trusted, medical professional. Discuss dietary changes and nutritional supplements with your doctor. If he or she can’t help you – find another doctor.
Hypertension is a serious health issue that can easily be resolved with diet and lifestyle modifications. Focus on positive (healthy) habits and the symptoms of disease will fade away.
About the author: Jonathan Landsman is the host of NaturalHealth365.com, the NaturalNews Talk Hour – a free, weekly health show and the NaturalNews Inner Circle – a monthly subscription to the brightest minds in natural health and healing.
Reaching hundreds of thousands of people, worldwide, as a personal health consultant, writer and radio talk show host – Jonathan has been educating the public on the health benefits of an organic (non-GMO) diet along with high-quality supplementation and healthy lifestyle habits including exercise and meditation.