For years, heart disease has been the number one leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020,1 690,882 people died of heart disease. This compares with 633,842 who died in 2015, representing a 9% jump in six short years. One of the major risk factors for heart disease is high blood pressure.2 New data shows that a diet rich in herbs and spices can help reduce high blood pressure.3
Blood pressure measurements are expressed as two numbers.4 The top number is called the systolic number, and the bottom is called the diastolic number. These numbers represent the pressure measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) required to move blood through your arteries. The top number is how much pressure there is on the artery when the heart beats, and the diastolic number is how much pressure remains in the artery between heartbeats.
In 2017, American College of Cardiology,5 in partnership with the American Heart Association,6 published new guidelines that defined high blood pressure. This moved the measurement for diagnosing high blood pressure from 140/90 to 130/80 mmHg.7
Researchers had noticed an increase in heart disease in people whose blood pressure was previously thought to be within normal limits. With the amended guidelines, American Heart Association8 It is estimated that more than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, kidney disease, vision loss, stroke and damaged blood vessels.9 New data published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows how closely your diet is linked to your blood pressure measurement.10
24 herbs and spices over four weeks lowered blood pressure
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University11 sought to understand the effect that eating herbs and spices would have on cardiovascular disease. According to researchers,12 this was the first controlled feeding study to evaluate mixed herbs and spices in a traditional American diet against the risk factors for heart disease.
The researchers recruited 71 people with known risk factors for heart disease. Of these, 63 participants completed the controlled feeding study. The researchers used blood tests and blood pressure to measure the effect of a low (0.5 grams), moderate (3.2 grams) and high (6.5 grams) intake of herbs and spices.
Participants ingested each diet in random order for a period of four weeks with a two-week washout between each diet.13 The rest of the diet was based on the average American intake. The herbs and spices included basil, thyme, cinnamon and turmeric.
The researchers found that those who ate the diet high in herbs and spices had lower systolic blood pressure than those who ate the diet with medium or low doses of herbs and spices. Participants wore a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours at the start of the study and at the end of each treatment period.
The researchers were enthusiastic about the results because the study did not specifically change the diet to be heart-healthy. The only difference was in the number of herbs and spices that the participants ingested. Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Professor of Nutrition at Penn State Evan Pugh University,14 said in a press release:15
“I think it’s very important that participants ate an average American diet throughout the study, and we still found these results. We did not reduce sodium, we did not increase fruits and vegetables, we just added herbs and spices. It raises the next question that if we changed the diet in these ways, how much better would the results then be?
Vitamin D deficiency can be associated with high blood pressure
Several important factors affect your blood pressure, and your vitamin D level is one of them.16 Researchers have found that vitamin D deficiency and deficiency are associated with high blood pressure in adults and now find that low levels in infants and children may increase the risk of high blood pressure later in childhood and adolescence.17
Vitamin D plays a significant role in several health conditions, and it can be one of the simplest solutions to a wide range of problems. Optimally, you would like to obtain vitamin D through sun exposure. But since many dermatologists and other agencies18,19,20 began telling people to avoid the sun and use copious amounts of sunscreen, vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions.21,22,23
In the UK, the optimal level of vitamin D is 20 ng / mL (50 nmol / L) and higher.24 However, in the United States, adequate levels are between 30 ng / mL (75 nmol / L) and 60 ng / mL (150 nmol / L).25 or from 40 ng / ml (100 nmol / L) to 60 ng / ml (150 nmol / L).26 A study27 published in 2018, 39.92% of the population found a vitamin D level of 20 ng / ml or less, and 60.08% had levels of 20 ng / ml or more.
As the lowest adequate level is 30 ng / ml, at least 40% of the population surveyed lacked vitamin D and probably higher. Evidence suggests that low levels are associated with high blood pressure. A literature review28 of 30 randomized clinical trials and 4,744 participants found that vitamin D3 could help reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The effect was found to be dose, duration and population dependent.
Another review29 of 17 trials with 1,687 participants found that vitamin D supplementation had a statistically significant difference in reducing systolic and diastolic pressure in individuals who had vitamin D deficiency and had high blood pressure.
Low levels of vitamin D also appear to have a predictive value in children. Researchers30 followed 775 children aged from birth to 18 years from 2005 to 2012 to investigate the effect of vitamin D on the development of high systolic blood pressure. Low vitamin D status was defined as less than 11 ng / ml at birth and less than 25 ng / ml in early childhood.
The researchers31 compared those with low levels of vitamin D with children born with adequate levels. They found that children with low levels had about a 60% higher risk of high systolic blood pressure between the ages of 6 and 18. Children who experienced persistent low levels throughout childhood had twice the risk of high systolic blood pressure between 3 and 18 years of age. .32
Take care of your sodium / potassium ratio
In the United States and many other developed countries, salt has been denounced as a primary cause of high blood pressure.33 The tank is with more salt, your body retains more fluid and therefore increases the work of the heart. According to research presented at the 2013 American Heart Association meeting,34 too much salt contributed to 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide in 2010.
However, it is important to understand that sodium and potassium work together to affect your blood pressure. The average reported intake of potassium from food is about half35 of the recommended 4,700 mg.36 Research has shown that these low levels of potassium can have a significant effect on blood pressure,37,38,39 especially since it relates to the amount of salt normally found in the Western diet.
Potassium acts to relax the walls of your arteries, preventing your muscles from cramping and lowering your blood pressure.40 Reducing blood pressure with added potassium has also been associated with a reduced risk of stroke and mortality from all causes.41
It is recommended that you consume two to three times more potassium than sodium, depending on whether you currently have heart disease or diabetes.42,43 But most Americans consume more sodium than potassium.
If researchers only look at sodium levels and not the ratio, which is more important than total salt intake,44 then it may look like salt is driving high blood pressure. Therefore, you automatically improve the ratio by lowering your salt intake.
Several strategies to help control blood pressure
There are many factors that can affect your blood pressure positively or negatively. As mentioned, your diet plays an important role in the nutrients supplied to your arterial system. Several other strategies you can consider include:
Train more – American Heart Association45 recommends activity and exercise to help control blood pressure. Studies have also shown the effectiveness of exercise, including as a preventative strategy.46 Regular activity47 can lower blood pressure, reduce cardiac arrest and prevent remodeling from high blood pressure, which is pathological and increases the risk of heart failure and mortality.
Reduce stress – American Heart Association48 also recommend dealing with your stress to help control high blood pressure. Stress stimulates the nervous system to produce hormones that cause vasoconstriction.49 This can cause short-term increases in blood pressure.50
Chronic stress can also affect sleep patterns,51 diets52 and motivation to train,53 all of which are key factors in raising blood pressure.54 Acute stress is also associated with broken heart syndrome, which is a potentially life-threatening condition that mimics a heart attack.55
Try inspirational muscle strength training – A study56 showed that using inspirational high-strength muscle training (IMST) could reduce blood pressure measurements as well as aerobic exercise or meditation. IMST was originally developed for critically ill patients with respiratory diseases. The strategy uses a handheld device that provides resistance to the user when inhaling vigorously, thus strengthening the muscles.
Incorporates meditation – Mind-body exercises that trigger your body’s relaxation response,57 such as meditation, plays an important role in lowering blood pressure by favorably affecting a newly identified set of genes and biological pathways.58 As the relaxation response is elicited, biochemical changes occur, including decreased oxygen consumption, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.59
Use intermittent fasting – This is a form of time-limited eating where you typically fast for 16 to 18 hours with a window of six to eight hours to eat. Evidence shows that there are several benefits to the cardiovascular system, including lowering blood pressure.60 A recent study61 from Baylor College of Medicine suggested that fasting can help normalize blood pressure by affecting the gut microbiota.
Sauna bathing – Sometimes, some of the simplest strategies can have a huge impact. Sweating in a sauna can help expel toxins, improve blood circulation and improve mitochondrial function. In a video lecture by Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D.,62 she discusses how sauna bathing can be used as an exercise mimic to increase your longevity.
In this lecture, she notes that only a single sauna session has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve heart rate variability, and improve arterial compliance. Some of the positive health benefits of the sauna may have to do with similar physiological changes that also occur during physical exercise.
Check this magnesium – Magnesium deficiency can contribute to a significant number of health problems as it is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body.63 One scientific review64 suggested that low magnesium may be the biggest predictor of heart disease and another65 proposed subclinical deficiency may compromise cardiovascular health.
Low magnesium levels have been associated with a high risk of high blood pressure,66 kind67 and sudden cardiac death.68 The best way to determine your status is to do an RBC magnesium test. This measures the amount of magnesium in your red blood cells.
There are several reasons why you may have inadequate or deficient levels of magnesium, including not getting enough from your diet, sweating, stress and lack of sleep. Try to eat more magnesium-rich foods and consider high-quality magnesium supplements if necessary. Another way to boost your level effectively is to use an Epsom salt bath as magnesium is effectively absorbed through your skin.