High blood pressure (or hypertension) increases risk of stroke, kidney failure, and heart attack, and affects 30 percent of U.S. adults, says the Centers for Disease Control.
Since high blood pressure is symptomless, regular checks are important. A normal reading is 120/80. Anything over 140/90 is considered high.
Many factors, including weight, salt intake, stress, age, and family history, can increase the odds of developing high blood pressure.
For a natural, drug-free approach to keeping blood pressure in check, try these nutrients, which you can find in supplements or foods:
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). A study at the University of Western Australia found those taking 100 mg of CoQ10 twice a day reduced systolic and diastolic pressure when compared to those not taking CoQ10.
Foods rich in CoQ10 include beef, fish, eggs, whole grains, and vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
Garlic. A team of researchers at University of Adelaide in South Australia reviewed 11 studies examining the link between garlic and high blood pressure and found significant decreases in blood pressure levels of the patients who consumed garlic.
However, garlic can thin the blood, so be sure to consult with a physician before taking garlic supplements.
Folic acid (folate). A type of B vitamin, folic acid helps lower blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. One study of more than 9,000 Americans found that those who had the highest daily intake of folic acid (400 mcg) lowered their risk of stroke 79 percent when compared to those people who consumed the least (100 mcg) amount of folic acid. Whole wheat pasta and breads are good sources.
Fish oil. Omega-3 fish oil contains both DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), but DHA may be more beneficial than EPA in lowering blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, or salmon, at least twice a week.
Quercetin. This plant-based flavonoid not only lowers blood pressure better than a commonly used antihypertensive drug, but it also prevents enlargement of the heart, which is a major complication of high blood pressure. The typical amount for adults is 100 to 250 mg three times per day. Food sources include citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, and tea.