[PHNUTR-L] Change your diet to reduce your BP
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Fri Feb 3 08:21:48 PST 2006
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Change your diet to reduce your BP
By Stephen Daniells
01/02/2006 - A new statement on diet from the American Heart Association
emphasises weight loss, cutting back on salt and alcohol and increasing
dietary potassium as viable ways to reduce blood pressure, but does not
recommend the use of supplements.
Although there is a growing body of studies (animal, observational and
clinical) suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids supplements, fibre
supplements, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C are associated with lower
BP, the AHA claims that the current data are insufficient or unclear.
Hypertension, defined as having a systolic and diastolic BP greater than
140 and 90 mmHg, affects about 600 million people worldwide and is
associated with over seven million deaths. Estimates indicate 27 per
cent of the US adult population is hypertensive.
Studies have shown that lowering blood pressure slightly could have
profound implications for health: it is thought that a mere three mmHg
drop in systolic BP across in those with hypertension may translate into
an eight per cent reduction in stroke mortality in the population as a
whole, and a five per cent drop in deaths from coronary heart disease.
Losing weight, cutting back on salt intake, and drinking less alcohol
are well established as a means to lower blood pressure, and the AHA is
very much in favour of measures incorporated into the everyday diet,
rather than dietary supplements.
In the scientific statement, published in the February issue of the
journal Hypertension (Vol. 47, pp. 296-308), the AHA recommended
increased potassium intake as a key hypertension preventative “because a
high potassium intake can be achieved through diet rather than pills,
the preferred strategy to increase potassium intake is to consume foods
such as fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium, rather than
Clinical trials for omega-3 fatty acids have reported BP reductions in
people with hypertension, but the effect appeared to be dose dependent
and relatively high (greater than three grams per day). At such doses
side effects like belching and a fishy taste were recorded, which
discouraged the AHA from recommending omega–3 supplements.
The British Heart Foundation, on the other hand, recommends eating oily
fish at least twice a week “to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
and to improve the chances of survival after a heart attack.”
Results from studies involving fibre, calcium or magnesium supplements
appear inconclusive with observational studies reporting positive
associations while small clinical trials reported no link.
Similar inconsistencies were reported for vitamin C observation studies
and clinical trials.
While the evidence may be insufficient or unclear for these supplements
for lowering BP, no reports were mentioned that suggest they could
increase BP, which is good news for many consumers taking supplements of
omega-3, vitamin C, or magnesium for other health reasons.
“A substantial body of evidence strongly supports the concept that
multiple dietary factors affect BP. Dietary modifications that
effectively lower BP are weight loss, reduced salt intake, increased
potassium intake, and consumption of an overall healthy diet,” said the
“Other dietary factors may also affect BP, but the effects are small
and/or the evidence is uncertain.”
Dr John Hathcock, vice president, scientific & international affairs
from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), stressed that the
conclusions drawn in the review concerning supplements should not be
Hathcock told NutraIngredients-USA.com: “For omega-3 there is clearly an
important effect which could support omega-3 supplements. However, the
effects of omega-3 are clearly not large enough to be dependable on
their own to reduce hypertension.”
Both calcium and vitamin C had clear and important effects, according to
Hathcock, but again no one should think of taking a supplement of either
in the belief that it would reduce their blood pressure.
“For potassium, the levels required could not be taken by
supplementation. It is a cause and effect situation for potassium since
high potassium diets tend to be low sodium diets, which have been shown
to help people with hypertension,” he said.
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
"Ask the Parkinson Dietitian" http://www.parkinson.org/
"Eat well, stay well with Parkinson's disease"
"Parkinson's disease: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy"
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