Hypertension is a chronic increase in blood pressure that records values ??higher than 140 Hg mm for systolic pressure, or maximum pressure, and 90 Hg mm for diastolic pressure, or minimum pressure. Blood pressure, if it results high for a long period of time, can cause heart, brain and kidney problems. That's why scientists are studying how, in addition to medicines, diet and lifestyle may help keep blood pressure under control. A few days ago a review published in the Nutrients magazine takes stock of the situation about the role of diet, and in particular of vitamins and minerals taken with food, on blood pressure values ??to offer additional help to those who suffer of hypertension (Chiu et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Based on data from previous studies, the scientists observed that some micronutrients, more than others, can directly or indirectly affect blood pressure. For example, with regard to mineral salts, sodium, contained in table salt, but also in cheeses and processed foods, is certainly an essential element in various biological processes in our body, especially for maintaining the electrolyte balance and for transmission of nerve impulses. However, when consumed in excess, namely more than 2 grams per day, in the long run it can lead to hypertension, as well as kidney dysfunction, osteoporosis and heart problems. Recent studies have confirmed that, of all cases of hypertension, as much as 50% is due to excess of sodium. A reduction of one third of the sodium supplied with the diet can lead to a drop in blood pressure of up to 10 Hg mm both in hypertensive people and with normal blood pressure values, with benefits for the health of the cardiovascular system. The review then considers potassium, which is contained in bananas, avocado, almonds, potatoes and beans. Potassium acts in the opposite way to sodium. In fact, the more potassium increases, the lower the risk of hypertension. Calcium is a mineral that plays an essential role in the health of bones and teeth, participates in muscle contraction in and the transmission of signals between cells. Calcium is contained in milk and dairy products, but also kale, peas, salmon, soy, thyme and okra. Nowadays, the link between calcium and blood pressure has not been fully understood, but what appears from the research is that an increase in calcium reduces blood pressure, just like potassium. Scientists explain this effect considering that calcium participates in the contraction of muscles and therefore can influence the tone of blood vessels, by promoting their dilation. Not only that, calcium can also promote diuresis and therefore the elimination of excess sodium. Magnesium is essential for metabolism and energy production, it is contained in pumpkin seeds, spinach, avocado, cocoa and almonds. It has been observed that a lack of magnesium can be reflected in an increase in blood pressure.
Vitamins guarantee the well-being of the body thanks to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulating action. But vitamins also help regulate blood pressure. Vitamin C, contained in citrus fruits, kiwis, broccoli and strawberries, influences blood pressure values. In fact, it has been observed that low vitamin C values ??are linked to an increase in blood pressure, probably due to the effect that vitamin C has on blood vessels and on the production of nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator. 70-80 mg of vitamin C per day are considered beneficial for blood pressure. From group B, vitamin B6, contained in milk, eggs, tuna and pistachios, and B12, contained in eggs, salmon and shellfish, seem to affect blood pressure. In particular, studies have found that low levels of these vitamins are associated with a high risk of hypertension.