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In The News: Blood Pressure Just Says "No" To Drugs

The New York Times is reporting that “high blood pressure is becoming increasingly resistant to drugs that lower it.”

Which begs the question — why pop pills when you can just… eat?

Blood pressure is one of those conditions that I don’t think is taken as seriously as it should be.

Everyone runs around with their cardiac health in mind, forgetting that high blood pressure is just as serious.

After all, “starting at a blood pressure of 115/80, research shows that the risk of a heart attack or stroke doubles with every 20-point increase of systolic pressure, the top number, or 10-point increase of diastolic pressure, the bottom number.”

As someone who is aware of the therapeutic power of nutrition, it is very frustrating to see people spend so much money on these medications (not to mention put such a strain on some organs) when they could begin to tackle the problem with dietary management.

Consider this eye-popping example:

“Pat J. Dixon, 58, a nurse in Atlanta, takes five medications to lower her blood pressure. In many ways, Ms. Dixon is typical of a patient who develops resistant hypertension. At 5 feet and 172 pounds, she is obese, and her weight gain has caused mild Type 2 diabetes, for which she takes yet another drug. The diabetes is an extra strain on the kidneys, in turn worsening her blood pressure.”

From a nutrition perspective, several nutrients are valuable tools in normalizing blood pressure.

First, sodium consumption should be kept to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day.

The best way to prevent excessive sodium intakes is to cut back on frozen, pickled, smoked, and canned foods.

In the case of canned beans, for example, opt for low-sodium varieties or rinse standard varieties for 10 to 15 seconds to remove excess sodium.

Potassium and magnesium are two minerals that are also crucial for blood pressure regulation.

Interestingly enough, the more processed a food, the higher the sodium content and the lower the potassium.

Consider these two examples:

A 3-ounce broiled porkchop contains 46 milligrams of sodium, whereas 3 ounces of ham pack in 1,117.

A medium baked potato contains a meager 8 milligrams of sodium, whereas a side of mashed potatoes at Kentucky Fried Chicken adds up to 360 milligrams!

Hence, the less processed the diet, the lower in sodium and higher in potassium.

Magnesium, meanwhile, is found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, and some varieties of fish.

Research has also shown a definitive link between calcium and blood pressure regulation — yet another reason to make sure you are getting enough of the “bone mineral.”

Food can have such an impact on blood pressure regulation that there is an actual eating plan specifically formulated for it: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)



  1. Anonymous said on June 24th, 2008


    Perhaps you can explain to me in lay terms why it is the case that processed food packs on so much sodium.

    I think it is because sodium preserves food, or is it just to add flavor?

    Perhaps it’s a stupid question, but really can’t make out why sooo much sodium is required in canning things.


  2. Meg said on June 24th, 2008

    I just discovered your blog, and I’m impressed! I am in school for my master’s in Dietetics, with the hopes of being an R.D., and I think what you’re doing is great…nice work!

  3. Anonymous said on February 13th, 2009

    I am a model patient.
    That is my diet is to the t perfect , and in fact I keep my weight slightly under.

    But I have familial hypertension.
    I HAVE to have the meds…no amount of diet, low sodium, exercise etc will lower it.

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