Natural ways to lower blood pressure


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Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure & Conquer Cholesterol

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Natural ways to lower blood pressure

  1. 1. Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure & Conquer Cholesterol
  2. 2. Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol is published by Doctors Health Press, a division of Lombardi Publishing Corporation, 60 State Street, Suite 700, Boston, MA 02109-1894 or P.O. Box 428, Kleinburg, Ontario, L0J 1C0, Canada. Contents Copyright 2011 by Lombardi Publishing Corporation. No part of this report may be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any means or media without written permission of the copyright holder. All rights reserved. The articles contained in Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol are presented for information purposes only, and they should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your doctor before undertaking any health-related or diet-related activity. On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional. The information contained herein, while believed to be correct, is not guaranteed to be complete. Lombardi Publishing Corp. and its employees are not responsible for medically unsupervised activities that could be harmful to your health. 0911
  3. 3. Introduction Heart disease is a serious problem in America. Even with the advent of new cho- lesterol-lowering drugs, the prevalence of this disease is continually on the incline. Now with the media tak- ing note of the side effects of prescription medications (think of recent accounts of COX-2 inhibitors leading to heart failure), people are taking a stand against phar- maceutical drugs. Luckily, natural therapies are also starting to garner attention. Most of these therapies are cheap, free of side effects, and have added nutritional benefits. When it comes to your heart health, there’s not a lot to lose out on here. So, take a look below and see what simple, cheap, and natural methods you can use in order to help get your cholesterol and blood pressure under control. 3 Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol
  4. 4. The Stinky Cure for Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Concerns Pungent Garlic Could Remedy Your Heart Woes There’s nothing quite like the smell of roasting garlic. However, if you’ve been cutting raw cloves and the scent’s been stuck on your hands for over an hour, then you might start thinking of the odor as being a little less than pleasant. Whether you find garlic aromatic or just smelly, you might have to accept that it’s a great helper for heart disease. Studies have shown that this wonderful herb can help fight atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries). A German study of 152 people showed that a high-dose supple- ment of garlic could reduce the growth of arterial plaque inside the body. The development of the nasty, artery-clogging substance was quelled by five to 18% by the garlic. Later, the supplements proved to help undo damage already done to arteries. After four years, the 50 to 80-year-old patients had reduced their arterial plaque content by six to 13%. This caused researchers to conclude that garlic supplements might not only prevent but also potentially relieve atherosclerosis.1 This means that you could be saved from potential heart attacks with just a cheap dose of this wonderful, natural supplement. So, just how does garlic perform this wonder- ful task? Garlic has two heart-helping effects: it lowers blood pres- sure and it lowers cholesterol. This double duty makes it a kitchen staple for people wanting to stave off heart disease. The Cholesterol Effect First, let’s look at how garlic affects cholesterol levels in the body. Garlic plays a couple of roles in the processing of cholesterol inside the body. First of all, it is suspected to get in the way of LDL cholesterol’s processing in the liver, making it less likely to pass into the bloodstream and cause trouble. Second, it seems to help keep cholesterol inside the blood aqueous, so it doesn’t harden into restrictive plaque deposits on the artery walls. By not harden- Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol 4
  5. 5. Natural Ways to Conquer Cholesterol & Lower Blood Pressure ing up, the walls remain elastic, allowing blood to pass through with ease, thus moving along to the heart without problems, and without increasing blood pressure. Studies have shown that garlic can lower the blood levels of cholesterol, but some researchers still question how strong of an effect this pungent herb has.2 Some stud- ies attempt to discredit garlic, but many more have come out with evidence showing that garlic is actually a great help when it comes to lowering cholesterol. For instance, an Australian study conduct- ed on 46 patients with high cholesterol concluded that supplement- ing with garlic has the effect of lowering cholesterol. However, it is important to note that those taking garlic supplements were asked to follow a lower fat diet, which may have added to the effects of the garlic.3 Whether or not garlic has a direct effect on cholesterol is still under debate, but it is clear that something in the nature of this herb contributes at least some benefit to the heart. Garlic and the Blood Pressure Effect Garlic can affect the pressure and clotting abili- ties of blood. This allows things to move along smoothly. First of all, let’s look at its effects on blood clotting. Garlic has mild blood-thinning effects and it acts as an antico- agulant. For this reason, you should be cautious if you are taking garlic with pre- scription blood thinners. If you aren’t taking any medica- tion for your blood, though, garlic 5
  6. 6. can be of great benefit to you. The substance that binds blood clots together is called fibrin and garlic mildly breaks up the bonds that this substance creates. This process is known as fibrinolysis. This helps to prevent new clots from forming while also helping to dis- solve ones that are already established as well. Why garlic affects blood pressure is not understood as clearly. However, a review study conducted in 1994 showed that garlic did possess blood pressure lowering abilities. The review analyzed 10 clinical trials and found when supplements of between 600 and 900 mg were given every day for a month that blood pressure dropped noticeably.4 With reduced blood pressure, people can benefit from lower risks of heart disease and even stroke. That’s quite a feat for garlic. Add Garlic to Your Meals for Extra Heart-Boosting Benefits To get these beneficial effects, start adding fresh garlic to your food. It’s best to use the raw form to keep all the constituents inside the plant active, but if you must add it to your cooking (and you definitely should) make sure that you cut it up. Then, let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes before you toss it on the heat. If you are roasting a head of garlic, cut off the top of the bulb and let it sit for 10 minutes to maintain its good qualities. Letting garlic sit, exposed to the air, seems to allow certain chemical reactions within the garlic to take place. The exposure to oxygen, combined with the active ingredients of sulfur, create a stronger allyl sulfur compound (the active part of garlic that is thought to be respon- sible for its health benefits).5 To get your daily dose of this heart- protecting herb, toss raw garlic into your cooking wherever you can, be it on salads (in a dressing) or as an alternative to salt as a tabletop spice for food. If you can’t stand the raw plant, at least take a standardized, powdered supplement of 600 to 900 mg garlic every day. Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol 6
  7. 7. Natural Ways to Conquer Cholesterol & Lower Blood Pressure Vitamin C Can Help Improve Your Heart Health This Incredible Vitamin Could Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease In case you didn’t get the memo, vitamin C is one of the most power- ful water-soluble antioxidants in your body. Also known as ascorbic acid, this powerful nutrient fights hard against the damaging effects of free radicals, working its protective effects not only on the outside of cells, but inside them as well. It is celebrated for its multitude of health benefits. One of its most prominent features is its abil- ity to boost the immune system. This means that it can help fight off colds and infections, heal wounds, and even remedy fractures. However, while the effect of vitamin C on the immune system is well known, what you might not realize is that this incredible substance also affects your heart in a positive way as well. Even if you don’t need this for heart health, you should be taking it anyway, because it does a whole lot of good everywhere inside your body. But you should also know that this potent little nutrient does a lot of good for your cardiovascular system. What Vitamin C Does for Your Heart A bunch of studies have linked vitamin C to a decreased risk of heart disease. In fact, studies are still being done to find out just how and why this little vitamin seems to have such a big effect on the cardiovascular system. It’s been shown that people who have higher levels of vitamin C in their bodies tend to have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well. One study conducted in 1998 found that men and women with boosted levels of this vitamin 7
  8. 8. had a 27% decreased risk of coronary artery disease and a 26% decreased risk of stroke. These results caused researchers to sug- gest that a higher intake of vitamin C could seriously reduce your risk of heart-related injury or death.6 However, this hasn’t been the only proof of vitamin C’s effective- ness. In fact, while the above study only compared people who already had high levels of vitamin C to those who didn’t, other studies have actually used supplements to increase the concentra- tion of vitamin C in the bodies, to test just what kind of an effect the vitamin was having on them. In a breakthrough study, German researchers examined the effects of high doses of vitamin C in patients with high blood pres- sure. They were not only looking to see if vitamin C could reduce blood pressure, but also if it could reduce stress responses and cortisol (a stress hormone), since these are both known to make blood pressure levels rise. The study took 120 patients and examined them over two weeks. Half received three daily doses of 1,000 mg of a time-released vitamin C formula. The rest of the participants received a placebo. The patients were then subjected to stress-inducing scenarios as their blood pressure was monitored. On average, those taking the vitamin C did not experience as sharp a rise in blood pressure as those on placebo did. While their blood pressure did spike during test- ing, their systolic rating rose eight points less than that of the people who were on the placebo. That’s a significant difference. This means that when vitamin C levels are high in the body, blood pressure is less likely to spike up in stressful situations. This is a definite benefit to people with hypertension, especially those prone to stress.7 In 2002, a group of American researchers set out to see what kind of an effect this punchy vitamin had on blood pressure and choles- terol in general. They collected 54 patients for the study and gave 31 of them varying doses of vitamin C. The patients either received a low dose of 500 mg, a medium dose of 1,000 mg, or a high dose of 2,000 mg every day of vitamin C. The researchers found that all the Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol 8
  9. 9. Natural Ways to Conquer Cholesterol & Lower Blood Pressure groups taking vitamin C had a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The systolic pressure dropped by approximately 4.5 points, while diastolic pressure dropped by an average of 2.8 points. Excitingly, the 500 mg dose was just as effective as the higher doses, which means that all you need to lower blood pressure by a signifi- cant amount (the same amount achieved by some prescription drugs) is a daily supplement of 500 mg of vitamin C. Even more exciting was that no one experienced any side effects or intolerance to the vitamin. The only thing researchers warned against is that vitamin C didn’t have any effect on cholesterol levels and that it may only work to reduce blood pressure for a short period of time. This means that it may not be a long-term solution.8 Nonetheless, it’s a great start to any blood pressure lowering plan. Just How Does Vitamin C Help the Heart? It isn’t exactly certain why vitamin C seems to help protect your heart, but several theories abound on this. First of all, some researchers think that it is vitamin C’s ability to affect the sticki- ness of blood platelets that makes it a heart-saving vitamin. This reduced stickiness creates an anti-coagulant effect that reduces the risk of dangerous blood clots and the resulting cardiac disruptions. Another possible reason for vitamin C’s exciting effects is that it is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the arteries and the heart has been blamed for several cardiovascular illnesses, such as atherosclerosis. Eliminating or at least reducing this inflammation could help to prevent serious heart-related illnesses from developing. This isn’t the end of this vitamin’s importance, though. The effects of vitamin C are far reaching within the cardiovascular system. One thing that vitamin C does is that it helps your body to absorb iron. Iron, as you know, is essential to the formation of red blood cells. Having enough iron can prevent anemia and this can also benefit your heart. One of the symptoms of anemia is a rapid heart beat (also known as tachycardia). This results when your body isn’t producing enough functioning red blood cells. Your blood pressure increases 9
  10. 10. and your heart speeds up so that you can get enough oxygen into your cells. So, as you can see, this is another possible reason for the rising pressures and risks of heart disease that can develop when you don’t get enough of this essential nutrient. Getting Enough Vitamin C in Your Day You may need a daily supplement of about 500 mg of vitamin C to help out your heart, especially if you eat a less than healthy diet. However, the best move you could make would probably be to increase your consumption of fruits and veggies. More and more studies are coming out that show food is the best source for all vitamins, especially those with antioxidant powers, such as vitamin C. A study in the Lancet showed that people who ate the most vitamin C rich foods, and thus, had the highest levels of the nutrient in their bodies, had half the risk of death from any cause (including cardiovascular disease) than those who ate the lowest amount of vitamin C. In fact, the study pointed out that by only modestly increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet, people could reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Increasing the daily intake of vitamin C by 50 g reduced the risk of death by 20%. This means that all it takes is one extra serving per day of these healthy vitamin C-packed foods to significantly help out your body.9 Some Salt is Good for You Make Sure You Get Enough Salt to Keep Your Heart Healthy Salt restriction is one theme you’ll hear repeated over and over again in diets for treating high blood pressure. Some people take the word “restriction” to mean “abstinence.” Fortunately, this is not what most anti-hypertensive diets require. Instead of cutting out all the salt from your diet, you just need to cut down your intake to a more reasonable level. For instance, it is recommended that most adults get at least 1,500 mg of sodium every day, but that they avoid going over 2,400 mg. These same numbers are the ones that are Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol 10
  11. 11. Natural Ways to Conquer Cholesterol & Lower Blood Pressure also applied to patients with high blood pressure. The important thing to note is that most adults get far above the recommended upper-level intake of sodium. In fact, the typical American diet provides between 3,000 and 5,000 mg of sodium every day. At 5,000 mg that’s almost double the tolerable uptake limit! So, when doctors recommend sodium restriction, they really aren’t telling you to cut it out completely. That would be nearly impossible—and it would also be quite dangerous as well. The Good and Bad Aspects of Sodium Sodium plays a vital role in the regulation of your heart’s rhythm. By encouraging the flow of blood through the body, it keeps the heart pumping at regular intervals. In small amounts, sodium pro- vides the body with electrolytes, which, in turn, provide a balance of water and nutrients that keep blood at the proper volume so it runs smoothly through your veins, arteries, and heart. However, electrolytes have a charge that attracts water molecules. So, when too much salt is consumed, the body tries to make up for it by pulling in excess water. In turn, the volume of water inside the blood vessels becomes too high and the pressure on the arteries starts to build. Thus, you end up with hypertension. Because the American diet is so rife with salt, sodium restriction is now a major part of the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) eating plan. It actually wasn’t a part of the original program, but it has proven to be so effective that it is typically included in any hyperten- sion diet. Really, the guidelines only recommend lowering salt to the approved standards that apply to nearly everyone. This means 11
  12. 12. that most people will still be allowed 2,400 mg of sodium a day. At the low end of the scale, for serious hypertension, it may be restricted to 1,500 mg of salt each day. Watching Your Sodium Intake A lot of foods contain sodium. This doesn’t mean that you have to cut out these foods, but you may have to do without adding salt to your meals. Also, remember that restaurant foods, especially Chinese food that contains soy sauce and fast food like McDonald’s French fries contain really high levels of sodium. Also, be wary of processed meats, pickled food, margarine, butter, baking soda, and flavoring mixes. Smoked salmon, caviar, tuna in brine, and other processed seafood may also be high in sodium. Also, watch for sauces such as barbeque, steak, Worcestershire, ketchup, mustard, and horseradish. Packaged breakfast cereals, bread, and canned soups also contain salt. Fortunately, natural and fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish all contain next to no sodium and you can indulge in them. Just pay attention to some of the other foods that you eat every day, such as bread, cereal, cheese, deli meat, and sauces. Here’s a quick guideline so you can see how much sodium is in your favorite foods:10 • 1 tsp. table salt: 2,358 mg • 1/2 cup of sauerkraut: 780 mg • 1 oz (a serving) of pretzels: 486 mg • 1/2 cup cottage cheese: 459 mg • 1 large dill pickle: 1,731 • 1 cup of canned chicken noodle soup: 850 mg • 1 oz. of deli ham: 341 mg • 1 tsp. soy sauce: 304 mg • 1 oz. American cheddar cheese: 304 mg • 1 cup Cornflakes cereal: 298 mg • 2 slice whole wheat bread: 400 mg • 1 tsp. prepared mustard: 56 mg Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol 12
  13. 13. Natural Ways to Conquer Cholesterol & Lower Blood Pressure As you can see, the sodium adds up fast in a typical day. Let’s say you have cornflakes for breakfast and then a sandwich with bread, cheese, mus- tard, and ham for lunch. You are already at 1,399 mg of sodium. This is without adding any salt to your food. Still, this is an acceptable level, even if you are on an anti-hypertensive diet. However, having that pickle with lunch puts you way over the limit at 3,130 mg of sodium. So, if you are eating at a deli, pass on the pickle. Later on, the trick is avoiding digging into salty pretzels or adding lots of sauce and salt to your dinnertime meal. Usually, this is the hardest part. Still, as you can see, you can eat a fairly normal diet without worrying about salt. Remember that reducing your salt intake to about 2,400 mg per day (or, more accurately for your weight, 100 mmol/d) can take 5.8 mmHg systolic and 2.5mmHg diastolic pressure off your sys- tem. Reducing salt intake to 1,500 mg a day could reduce the pressure by up to twice as much. This shouldn’t require too much sacrifice, as long as you are not a big fast food and restaurant fan, or a person with a penchant for the salt shaker. Then again, these are probably the people who need to put the most thought into just how much sodium they are taking in.11 The Deficiency That Puts Your Heart at Risk Make Sure You are Getting Enough Vitamin E Vitamin E has been a known helper of heart disease patients for some time now. This potent antioxidant became the hero of vita- mins a few years ago when trials showed that vitamin E could help lower blood pressure.12 Since then, it has been questioned whether supplements of this vitamin do more harm than good for the body. However, what is clear is that vitamin E from natural food sources is incredibly important to the health of our bodies. In fact, it is one of the most important nutrients around, acting as a critical anti- oxidant that protects your cells against a whole whack of trouble. Vitamin E is responsible for fighting free radicals in the fats and oils of your body. Basically, vitamin E protects cholesterol molecules against damage from oxidation. Oxidative damage, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is a type of cellular destruction that causes unstable cells and that, in this case, can lead to heart disease. Aside from vitamin E’s clear role in your heart health, it is suspected to prevent certain types of cancer and possibly help control diabetes as well. 13
  14. 14. The Role of Vitamin E So, what exactly does vitamin E do that makes it so beneficial to your body? Well, it fights inflammation, regulates blood cells, helps ensure the growth of connective tissue, and controls cell division. However, you are probably most interested in what vitamin E does for the cardiovascular system. The major thing vitamin E is responsi- ble for is protecting against oxidative damage. As mentioned above, oxidation does nasty things to your body. The low density lipopro- tein (LDL) cholesterol is at the biggest risk of oxidation and so, is often known as the bad fat. Well, this bad fat is thought to increase the risk of blockages in the arteries when it oxidizes. These blockages lead to problems like atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and eventually heart attacks. By preventing or reducing the oxidation of this cho- lesterol, vitamin E keeps the blood fats under control so they aren’t as likely to cause problems. But vitamin E has another role, too. This nutrient also acts as a mild anti-coagulant, which means that it can thin the blood. This also helps prevent the formation of non-helpful blood clots that could block up arteries and cause heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems. So, as you can see, vitamin E has an essential role in your heart health that should not be ignored. The Likelihood of Developing a Vitamin E Deficiency Although it is clear that vitamin E has a protective role in your heart health, it isn’t certain whether or not supplements of it do any good. A deficiency of this vitamin could be quite damaging to the heart, the whole cardiovascular system, or even the whole body. However, in North America, an actual deficiency in this vitamin is pretty rare. If you ate an absolute garish diet, you might be at risk, but most people eat enough good foods to stay afloat of developing a major deficien- cy. Even so, this does happen from time to time. Certain individu- als may be more likely to lack in this vital vitamin than others. For instance, people who can’t absorb dietary fat and who have disorders that inhibit their ability to metabolize fat (i.e. celiac disease) are at risk of being deficient in vitamin E because it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Without fat being metabolized, the vitamin doesn’t get absorbed and you miss out on this precious nutrient. Unfortunately, small deficien- Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol 14
  15. 15. Natural Ways to Conquer Cholesterol & Lower Blood Pressure 15 Heart-Healing Bean and Veggie Spread Looking for the perfect snack for maintaining your blood pressure? This veggie spread contains all the great natural blood pressure and cho- lesterol-lowering substances men- tioned in this special report. The vegetables are a great source of vita- min C and the parsley, walnuts, and olive oil contain heart-healthy vitamin E, too. The raw garlic also packs a punch against heart disease. If you find raw garlic to be too pungent, you can add it in near the end of cooking. Just make sure you let it stand for 10 minutes after you chop it up. Ingredients: • 1 Tbsp. olive oil • 1 red pepper • 1 orange pepper • 1 small onion • 2 cloves of garlic • 15 ounces of white kidney beans • 1 Tbsp. of fresh lime juice • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice • 1/4 tsp. of pepper • 2 Tbsp. of fresh parsley • 2 Tbsp. of chopped walnuts Directions: Chop the garlic and let it stand. Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers and cut them and the onion into chunks. Warm the olive oil in a wok or deep sauce pan on medium heat. Start frying the onion and peppers and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the peppers are slightly soft and shrunken. Add in the beans to warm them (for about three minutes). Pour the contents of the frying pan into a blender. Add in the chopped garlic, lime juice, lemon juice, pepper, parsley, and walnuts. Blend until smooth (or slightly chunky). Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with more chopped wal- nuts as desired. Serve with wedges of wholewheat pita bread, multigrain crackers, broccoli, pepper strips, or other healthy veggies. A Heart-Healthy Snack
  16. 16. cies of vitamin E often go undetected for long periods of time and this could make it turn into a major problem. If that happens, the damage can be irreversible. This is why it is crucial to eat a diet full of vitamin E-rich foods and to be aware of how much vitamin E you are taking in. This means including a lot of whole grains, leafy green vegetables, seeds, and nuts, polyunsaturated vegetable oil, broccoli, olives, papaya, fish, shellfish, parsley, and egg yolks into your diet. Probably the easiest to fit in are leafy greens such as spinach, which can be thrown into salads or sandwiches, and whole grains, which can replace refined white breads. Sources 1. Koscielny J, et al. “The antiatherosclerotic effect of Allium sativum.”Atherosclerosis. 1999 May;144(1):237-49. 2. Warshafsky S, et al. “Effect of garlic on total serum cholesterol—a meta-analysis.” Ann Intern Med 1993;119:599–605. 3. Kannar D, et al. “Hypocholesterolemic effect of an enteric-coated garlic supple- ment.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Jun;20(3):225-31. 4. Silagy C, et al. “A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure.” J Hypertension 1994;12:463–8. 5. Penn State. “Chopping and Cooking Affect Garlic’s Anti-Cancer Activity.” Posted November 17, 1998. Accessed June 27, 2005. 6. Simon JA, et al. “Serum ascorbic acid and cardiovascular disease prevalence in U.S. adults.” Epidemiology. 1998 May;9(3):316-21. 7. Brody S, et al. “A randomized controlled trial of high dose ascorbic acid for reduc- tion of blood pressure, cortisol, and subjective responses to psychological stress.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002 Jan;159(3):319-24. Epub 2001 Nov 20. 8. Hajjar IM, et al. “A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of vitamin C in the management of hypertension and lipids.” Am J Ther. 2002 Jul-Aug;9(4):289-93. 9. Khaw KT, et al. “Relation between plasma ascorbic acid and mortality in men and women in EPIC-Norfolk prospective study: a prospective population study. European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.” Lancet. 2001 Mar 3;357(9257):657-63. 10. Northwestern University. “Nutrition fact Sheet: Sodium” http://www.feinberg.north- Accessed August 17, 2005. 11. “Facts about the DASH Eating Plan” hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Revised May 2003. Accessed May 30, 2005. 12. Boshtam M, et al. “Vitamin E can reduce blood pressure in mild hypertensives.” Int J Vitam Nutr Res 2002;72:309–14. Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Conquer Your Cholesterol 16