Prevention of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
by Hans R. Larsen, MSc ChE
Dietary fiber and magnesium prevent hypertension
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health have completed a study to determine the relationship between diet and hypertension (high blood pressure). The study involved over 30,000 male health professionals 40 to 75 years old. The baseline mean systolic blood pressure for the men was 125.5 mm at age 40-44 and 133.7 mm at age 70-75. The diastolic blood pressure at 79.3 to 80.4 mm was relatively unchanged with age. During four years of follow-up 1248 of the men developed hypertension. An analysis showed that participants consuming less than 250 mg per day of magnesium had a 50% greater chance of developing hypertension than had men who consumed 400 mg/day or more. Similarly, an intake of less than 2.4 g/day of potassium increased the risk of hypertension by 50% as compared to an intake of 3.6 g/day or more. The most striking effect was found in the case of dietary fiber where an intake of 24 grams/day or more was found to provide significant protection. A higher intake of dietary fiber, magnesium, and potassium was also found to be associated with lower blood pressure in healthy men. The results of this study confirm the findings of an earlier study involving 58,000 nurses. The authors point out that although diet is important in preventing hypertension, its effect is overshadowed by the risk imposed by obesity and excessive alcohol intake.
Ascherio, Alberto, et al. A prospective study of nutritional factors and hypertension among US men. Circulation, Vol. 86, No. 5, November 1992, pp. 1475-84
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Garlic lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND. Researchers at Brown University School of Medicine report that supplementation with aged garlic extract lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure in men with high cholesterol levels. Their experiment involved 41 men aged 32 to 68 years who had total cholesterol concentrations between 5.7 and 7.5 mmol/L (220-290 mg/dL) at the start of the study. After a four-week baseline period half the men were given nine aged garlic capsules (Wakunaga of America) daily. Each capsule contained 800 mg of aged garlic extract. The capsules were taken three at a time with meals for a six-month period. The other half of the men were given a placebo. At the end of the six- month period the supplementation was changed so that the former garlic group was given the placebo and the placebo group was given the aged garlic extract for an additional period of four months. Cholesterol levels and blood pressure were measured monthly. The researchers conclude that supplementation with aged garlic extract lowers total cholesterol levels by an average of 6-7 per cent. Low-density- lipoprotein cholesterol was lowered by an average of 4.6 per cent. The researchers also noted a 5.5 per cent decrease in systolic blood pressure and a smaller decrease in diastolic pressure. They found no adverse effects of the garlic supplementation in regard to blood count, blood chemistry, or thyroid function and conclude that garlic supplementation for extended periods of time is safe and beneficial.
Steiner, Manfred, et al. A double-blind crossover study in moderately hypercholesterolemic men that compared the effect of aged garlic extract and placebo administration on blood lipids. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 64, December 1996, pp. 866-70
Potassium supplementation lowers blood pressure