There’s both bad and good news when it comes to blood pressure.
What worries public health authorities is the fact that rates of high blood pressure, or hypertension, have doubled globally over the past 40 years, according to a study published in The Lancet.The number of people with hypertension worldwide rose from 594 million in 1975 to more than 1 billion in 2015. Click To Tweet
Rates have gone up most dramatically in poorer countries and among poorer populations. Aging of the world’s population has played a key role.
The good news?Hypertension rates have gone down in the US. Click To Tweet
What’s more, intensive lowering of systolic pressure (the higher top number) could prevent more than 100,000 deaths in the US each year, according to a study presented before the American Society of Nephrology in 2016.
Severe hypertension requires medical intervention. Otherwise, natural aids (including those that address other cardiovascular risk factors) may promote healthy blood pressure when included as part of an overall antihypertensive lifestyle.
What It Is: Vaccinium myrtillus, a European relative of the American blueberry
What It Does: Acts as a vasodilator, a substance that helps lower pressure by widening blood vessels; used to protect small vessels in the eye from hypertensive damage and to improve blood flow through veins
What It Is: A substance found in most of the body’s cells; also known as ubiquinol; meat and fish are among the richest sources
What It Does: Helps thin the blood, reducing pressure; also fights cholesterol oxidation while helping the body to maintain healthy glucose levels and cardiac muscle cells to generate energy
What They Are: Minerals in solution within the body; calcium, magnesium and potassium are among the major electrolytes
What They Do: Help maintain fluid balance within the body, which affects blood pressure; magnesium and potassium help regulate heartbeat
What They Are: Folate, also a B vitamin, is mainly found in green vegetables and beans; B12 occurs in animal-based foods
What They Do: Reduces homocysteine, a metabolic byproduct linked to increased cardiovascular risk
What It Is: Allium sativum L., used in cultures around the world as a culinary and medicinal herb
What It Does: An all-around health tonic that contains pressure-lowering substances; also appears to fight the development of atherosclerosis, a hardening of blood vessel walls, and abnormal blood clotting
Grape Seed Extract
What It Is: Taken from the seeds of Vitis vinifera, common grapes that are eaten fresh, dried as raisins or made into juice and wine
What It Does: Contains oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes, or OPCs, which have shown an ability to improve small-vessel circulation; has reduced blood pressure in clinical trials, especially in younger people
What It Is: Various species of Crataegus, a thorny shrub in the rose family with red berries and glossy leaves
What It Does: Has long been used by European herbalists as an all-around cardiac herb, often in people with early congestive heart failure; helped reduce pressure among people with type 2 diabetes in one study
What It Is: A compound responsible for much of extra virgin olive oil’s beneficial effects on health
What It Does: Has improved arterial elasticity, a key component of blood pressure control, in studies; may help hinder the development of atherosclerosis and diabetes
What It Is: An amino acid, or protein building block, found in animal foods and some plant foods
What It Does: Has shown antihypertensive effects in lab studies; has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance, a key factor in diabetes control
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
What They Are: EPA and DHA, the long-chain varieties, are found in fish and oils taken from fish and other marine animals
What They Do: Found to lower blood pressure in an analysis of 17 clinical studies; has also been found to raise levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower those of triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood
What It Is: Origanum vulgaris, a kitchen herb that is native to the Mediterranean region
What It Does: Contains substances that have reduced blood pressure and protected heart muscle cells in lab studies
What They Are: Cholesterol-like compounds found in wheat germ and bran, various oils and other sources
What They Do: Lowers total and LDL cholesterol by hampering cholesterol absorption within the digestive tract; has also shown anti-inflammatory and glucose-controlling properties
What It Is: The healthful component in red wine; Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) contains greater amounts
What It Does: Inhibits excessive proliferation of muscle cells within blood walls and stimulates release of nitric oxide, key factors in maintaining healthy blood pressure
What It Is: An amino acid found in fish and other animal-based food
What It Does: Helps control cholesterol levels and protect heart cells from damage caused by calcium imbalances; may reduce cardiac risk associated with high cholesterol levels
What It Is: A fat-soluble nutrient created in skin that is exposed to sunshine; food sources include fish and egg yolks
What It Does: Helps decrease the risk of hypertension and maintain proper levels of the electrolytes calcium and potassium; also helps the body secrete insulin, helping to control glucose levels
What It Is: A family of eight related compounds found in oils, nuts and other foods
What It Does: Helps fight oxidation in the fatty parts of cells; increased intake has been associated with reductions in heart attack incidence and heart disease mortality
NOTE: Always consult with your healthcare practitioner for help in designing a supplementation program, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.