Lower blood pressure: a whole basketful of foods, supplements and formulas come with claims to help you achieve it… The menu includes chocolate, beetroot juice, celery root, Hawthorne berry, grapefruit, apple cider vinegar, garlic, vitamin C, Coenzyme Q-10, fish oil and many, many more.
The problem is that few if any of these hypertension “miracle cures” demonstrate anything more than negligible and/or temporary effects. Most of the evidence behind these claims is anecdotal Blood balance and likely to be withdrawn once the placebo effect has worn off.
But there is one substance that is gaining expert support and medical validity; it’s magnesium. The medicinal uses of magnesium are many and varied. It has traditionally been used to relieve constipation. For sufferers of high blood pressure this is reason enough to increase their intake of magnesium. That’s because common hypertension medications, calcium channel blockers, in particular, are notorious for the constipation they bring on.
But magnesium also has major roles to play in our bodies, not just side effects, no matter how helpful they are. Magnesium is vital to the proper functioning and repair of our cells. For this reason it has long been a first-line treatment for survival and recovery from heart attack where it is often supplied intravenously. One major study showed that intravenous magnesium reduced the odds of death following a heart attack by an amazing 55%.
Recent studies reveal that magnesium also plays a major role in preventing heart disease, in part by helping to maintain lower blood pressure. It does this independently by means of its regulatory role in cellular processes and, just as importantly, it does it jointly in concert with other minerals in the body.
A healthy balance of minerals in our bodies is vital for regulating blood pressure. In this regard, calcium, potassium and sodium all work together with magnesium. Most people with high blood pressure will know that they need to limit their consumption of sodium. Actually, the real problem is not sodium itself but the imbalance of minerals resulting from an unhealthy diet.
This mechanism applies to potassium as well. Potassium has also earned credentials for its ability to reduce blood pressure but its action is not independent of the other minerals. It’s very difficult to measure the effects in our bodies of one mineral alone. For example, studies show that people eating diets rich in magnesium usually have lower blood pressure. But magnesium-rich diets also tend to be high in potassium (and probably other minerals as well). So what’s really at work here?
Which brings us to the question of how to obtain sufficient levels of magnesium and/or potassium. Most of us are likely to answer “with supplements”, a fact reflected in booming sales of supplements in recent years. But the issues arising from divorcing these minerals from their natural balance indicate a different answer: get your healthy mineral balance from a good diet, which will be high in a variety of elements.
Foods rich in magnesium and often other important minerals include all sorts of nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and leafy green vegetables such spinach, broccoli, peas and artichoke. Note that processing foods often degrades their nutrient value. That means refined grains lose most of their magnesium. Freezing and canning, on the other hand, usually retain the original nutrients.