High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects roughly 70 million Americans. This condition increases risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. Those who are labeled with hypertension pay higher insurance rates and are frequently subjected to lifelong use of medications. Yet, research suggests that four in five blood pressure readings taken in doctors’ offices are inaccurate!
If you truly do have high blood pressure, you need to understand that hypertension is not so much a disease as it is a reflection of the body’s response to dietary preferences, excess weight, and lack of exercise.
Diet Can Naturally Lower Blood Pressure
Research shows that a few dietary adjustments can have significant positive effects to naturally lower blood pressure. Let’s take a closer look.
The major dietary factor in hypertension is our lopsided ratio of sodium to potassium. Human beings evolved as hunter-gatherers, on a diet virtually devoid of sodium and very high in potassium. Consequently, the kidneys tend to get rid of potassium but hang on to sodium. Today, sodium chloride (table salt) is our primary seasoning, and our sodium-potassium balance is way off kilter. In response, doctors routinely promote an unpalatable low-sodium diet, but they ignore the other, equally important aspect of the ratio: increasing potassium.
According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the effects of eating more potassium are “of similar magnitude to what can be achieved by lowering sodium intake.” The researchers suggested that this could be accomplished by eating more potassium-rich vegetables and fruits and replacing sodium chloride—especially in processed foods, our most abundant source of sodium—with potassium salt.
I’ve been recommending that for years. However, instead of potassium salt, I use a mixture of table salt and potassium salt. Potassium chloride by itself has a metallic taste and doesn’t enhance flavor much, but with this mixture, few people can tell the difference—and it still provides a substantial amount of potassium.
To make “Whitaker Salt,” add three parts potassium chloride (Nu-Salt or Morton’s Salt Substitute) to one part regular table salt, and use it for all of your cooking and seasoning. To further increase your potassium intake, eat copious amounts of vegetables and a serving or two of fruit per day. I also recommend drinking 8–12 ounces of Low Sodium V8 Juice daily (each 8-ounce serving contains 900 mg of potassium).
Other dietary components that contribute to hypertension when consumed in excess are:
- Caffeine (for some people)
On the other hand, foods that have been shown to help maintain normal blood pressure include:
- Sesame seeds
- Pomegranate juice
- Beet juice
- Dark chocolate (in moderation)
Another risk factor for hypertension is obesity. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of weight loss—as weight comes down, so does blood pressure.
At the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, which is renowned for its emphasis on exercise, investigators evaluated the body mass indexes (BMIs) and fitness scores of more than 35,000 people. They found that excess weight had a far greater impact on blood pressure than cardiorespiratory fitness. Normal-weight individuals had an average systolic blood pressure 12 mmHg lower than heavy people, even if they were only modestly fit.
There are countless approaches to losing weight, but the most rapid and enduring, in my experience, is the mini-fast with exercise.
There are several nutritional supplements that have been shown to support healthy blood pressure, including:
- Coenzyme Q10: 100–300 mg daily
- Magnesium: 500–1,000 mg daily
- Fish oil: 2–6 g daily
- Vitamin D: 2,000–5,000 IU daily
- Quercetin: 500–750 mg daily
- A Chinese herbal preparation called Balance3: 2–4 tablets daily
- Grape seed extract: 150–300 mg daily
- Olive leaf extract: 500–1,000 mg daily
- Stevia extract: 750–1,000 mg daily
- Amla (Indian Gooseberry): 500 mg
- Pycnogenol: 50 mg
This well-rounded supplement program stimulates nitric oxide production and relaxes the arteries, reduces blood viscosity and improves circulation, protects the endothelial cells against homocysteine and free radical damage, and enhances overall cardiovascular health.
You Can Naturally Lower Your Blood Pressure
The therapies I just described are not hard to implement. Granted, it takes a concerted team effort between patient and physician to make lifestyle changes, lose weight, and employ nutritional remedies, but all too often these proven modalities are glossed over. After all, it’s much easier to write a prescription than to impart the importance and particulars of a good diet, exercise, and supplement regimen.
But the truth is with a multipronged approach of mineral balance, weight loss, and appropriate supplements, you have the power to safely and naturally lower your blood pressure—if you’re willing to make the effort.