Diet Hypertension

The major dietary risk factors for hypertension and stroke are as follows:

4 Overweight. Obesity is commonly associated with high blood pressure. Overweight hypertensive persons who lose weight often experience a significant reduction in blood pressure.21

4 Low intake of PUFAs. Especially when com bined with a high intake of saturated fat, low intake of essential PUFAs can increase risk of high blood pressure (see Fig. 5.9).

0 Salt. Although for most people sodium in the diet plays only a minor role in determining blood pressure, some individuals are very sensitive to sodium in the diet. Individuals with a family history of hypertension or who are older than 55 years are most likely to be sodium sensitive.22 In about one-third of cases of hypertension, blood pressure can be significantly lowered by limiting sodium intake, most of which comes from salt added to processed foods, such as bread, cheese, canned soups and salty snacks.

0 Potassium. High sodium intake is a much stronger risk factor when combined with low potassium intake.5 People with low intakes of potassium are nearly five times more likely to die from stroke than those with higher intakes. Achieving a balanced intake of sodium and potassium should be a goal for people with, or at risk for hypertension. High potassium/low sodium foods, such as potatoes,

Follow-up time (days)

Fig. 5.9: Omega-3 fatty-acids in hypertension. 156

hypertensive adults were treated for 10 weeks with 5.1 g/day of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). The mean systolic blood pressure decreased by 4.6 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure by 3.0 mm Hg in the group receiving the fish oil. (From Bonaa KH, et al. N EnglJ Med. 1990;322:795)

Follow-up time (days)

Fig. 5.9: Omega-3 fatty-acids in hypertension. 156

hypertensive adults were treated for 10 weeks with 5.1 g/day of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). The mean systolic blood pressure decreased by 4.6 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure by 3.0 mm Hg in the group receiving the fish oil. (From Bonaa KH, et al. N EnglJ Med. 1990;322:795)

green vegetables, orange juice, apricots, and bananas can be beneficial.

4 Calcium. Low dietary intake of calcium is associated with a higher risk of hypertension, and increasing intake of calcium (from supplements or calcium-rich foods such as low-fat milk products, sesame seeds, or dark green vegetables) can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.23

4 Alcohol. Chronic high alcohol intake (more than two to three "drinks" per day) increases risk of hypertension and stroke.11 Alcohol is one of the most common causes of hypertension in the industrialized countries. Individuals who drink regularly and have high blood pressure can often see a significant drop in blood pressure after a few days of abstention.

4 Antioxidants and other food components. Rich intake of dietary antioxidants from high consumption of fruits and vegetables (particularly carrots and spinach) protects against high blood pressure and can reduce risk of stroke by 50% (see Fig. 5.10).28

200 160 120 80 40

□ Fasting C-peptide, controls

□ Fasting C-peptide, nicotinamide treatment

Control means at diagnosis = 100%. For each cell, data are weighted means (SD) from 10 published trials. P<0.025 for values at 12 months

Control means at diagnosis = 100%. For each cell, data are weighted means (SD) from 10 published trials. P<0.025 for values at 12 months

Fig. 5.10: Plasma antioxidants and risk of stroke. In a 12-year prospective study in nearly 3000 men, low plasma concentrations of vitamin C and carotenes were associated with a relative risk (RR) of death from stroke of 4.17 (95% C11.68-10.33, P = 0.002). (Adapted from Gey KF, et al. Clin Invest. 1993;71:3)

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Reducing Blood Pressure Naturally

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