Before you pop the ABCs of hypertension drugs: ACE inhibitors, beta blockers or calcium channel blockers, you’ll want to read about a new study which found that certain fruits can help lower high blood pressure.
Published in the medical journal Circulation, the study authors found that resveratrol-containing fruits can significantly lower blood pressure among people who experience hypertension. Resveratrol is a naturally-occurring nutrient found in certain plant-based foods like red or purple grapes, grape juice, red wine, and to a lesser extent blueberries, peanuts and raspberries.
You may already be familiar with the fact that red and purple grapes are most known for their resveratrol content and their memory-boosting and brain-healing effects. But, resveratrol is also a potent anti-inflammatory, making these fruits an excellent choice for any type of heart disease-related condition, including high blood pressure.
While it is unclear how resveratrol works to lower high blood pressure, it may be due to its antioxidant activity that destroys blood vessel-damaging free radicals. Additionally, it may also work by improving the dilation of blood vessels, which may allow blood to flow more easily through blood vessels. It also relaxes the walls of the blood vessels, which may also help to lower blood pressure.
Resveratrol has been hailed by researchers and nutritionists alike for its anti-aging and anti-cancer effects, as well as for helping to protect against heart failure, stroke and other heart-related conditions.
Hypertension is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against the artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause heart disease or other health problems. There may be no symptoms of high blood pressure until it has been building for years, but sometimes people experience shortness of breath, frequent nosebleeds and headaches.
Blood pressure is measured by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. The increased pressure may result from narrowing arteries and plaque build up in the arteries. While plaque is often considered harmful, it repairs damage to the arteries caused by poor diet and excessive free radicals.
Secondary high blood pressure can develop from kidney problems, adrenal gland tumors, illicit drug use (such as cocaine or amphetamines), thyroid conditions, congenital blood vessel problems or from the use of birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs. Excessive drinking or insufficient exercise can also be factors for hypertension.
Additionally, excess salt or insufficient potassium consumption can also cause high blood pressure. Earlier research in the journal Hypertension found a link between excess sodium in healthy individuals to an impaired lining of blood vessels, a type of heart malfunction that causes 60 percent of heart attacks, and impairment of electrical impulses in the heart. Sodium is intricately involved in regulating overall heart function through the regulation of heart muscle contractions. Combined with another electrolyte, potassium, sodium significantly influences heart health—for better or worse depending on the amount we ingest through diet or drugs. In other words, sodium increases blood pressure and potassium decreases it.
High amounts of hidden sodium may be hiding in pharmaceutical drugs you’re taking. There is no legal requirement for sodium disclosure or labelling this information is often difficult to obtain, but here is one source for sodium content in common drugs.
On the flip side, in the right proportions sodium and potassium can regulate blood pressure and significantly influence heart health. By lowering your sodium intake and increasing potassium intake through the addition of fruits and vegetables, you can make a significant difference to the sodium-potassium ratio in your diet and your body.
The easiest way to ensure a healthy sodium:potassium ratio is to minimize your consumption of packaged and processed foods, which tend to be extremely high in sodium and contain little, if any, potassium. Eating a plant-based diet naturally improves the sodium:potassium ratio since plant-based foods naturally contain plentiful amounts of potassium along with lesser amounts of sodium.
By adding fruit like red or purple grapes, purple grape juice or blueberries you can also give your blood vessels a boost thanks to the addition of resveratrol. Grapes or blueberries are a delicious addition to a leafy green salad and can be blended with oil and vinegar to make a great salad dressing. You can also add them to grain and meat dishes, or chop them with some fresh plums and apples as a sweet chutney alongside curries or fish dishes.
Alternatively, you can supplement with resveratrol. Follow package instructions for the product you select. Of course, you should never discontinue prescription medications without approval and monitoring by your physician.