Hypertension is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Not only that, prolonged long-term hypertension has an impact on cognitive function and on the risk of developing dementia over the years. Unfortunately, high blood pressure is a problem that will grow and affect more and more people. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, people with a new diagnosis of hypertension increased by almost 8% (Bhandari et al, BMC Public Health, 2021). And we must not make the mistake of believing that hypertension is only a problem of advancing age. Studies have shown that high blood pressure affects even one in 8 young people between the ages of 20 and 40, with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and brain aging (Fatima et al, EXCLI J, 2021). Suffice it to say that a middle-aged person with hypertension has a brain more than 6 months older than a person of the same age but with normal pressure (Cherbuin et al, Front Aging Neurosci., 2021). Hence the importance of keeping blood pressure under control, at all ages. But how can we do it? Let's see some simple everyday interventions based on the latest scientific research.
Less salt and more spices to reduce blood pressure
Sodium is an essential element for the well-being of the body. The problem, however, is that we tend to consume too much through the diet and the limit value of 5 grams of sodium per day is, alas, often exceeded. An excess of sodium has an impact on our health conditions, increasing blood pressure, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and impaired endothelial function (Grillo et al, Nutrients, 2019). Studies have found that reducing the consumption of salt, which is our main source of sodium, by consuming 3-5 grams per day, has a significant impact on blood pressure, which is significantly reduced, even by 6 mmHg. The greatest benefits were seen in people with hypertension (He et al, BMJ, 2013). However, it can sometimes be difficult to reduce the salt, as foods may seem to lose flavor. Spices are excellent substitutes for salt. Studies have found that using spices, such as rosemary, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, parsley, garlic, onion powder, basil, and turmeric, to name a few, reduced blood pressure in a group of volunteers. This resulted in a 5% reduction in mortality risk. The amount of spice used in the study was 6 grams per day for at least 4 weeks (Petersen et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2021).
Physical activity against hypertension
Physical activity is recommended both to control and to prevent hypertension. The most beneficial sports to reduce high blood pressure, with a decrease of up to 6 mmHg, have turned out to be brisk walking, yoga, water sports, such as swimming, and playing football, obviously only for those with this passion (Zhu et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2022). Other activities such as Tai chi and Qigong, while being excellent for calming the body and mind, have not been shown to be effective against hypertension. Very interesting is the result that practicing yoga in case of prehypertension, a condition of high blood pressure that precedes real hypertension, has been shown to reduce blood pressure and the chances of developing hypertension later on (Khandekar et al., ScientificWorldJournal, 2021). It is important to emphasize that yoga has proved more useful than meditation alone in counteracting hypertension. In fact, yoga is a set of techniques that can benefit and reduce pressure. In addition to breathing and meditation techniques, which counteract stress, which is one of the risk factors for hypertension, yoga also consists of a series of asanas, or positions, effective against hypertension, such as the lateral stretch position, the crescent moon or cobra (Khandekar et al, ScientificWorldJournal, 2021).
Hibiscus tea against hypertension
Hibiscus tea is a tea obtained by infusion from the flowers of hibiscus, or Hibiscus sabdariffa. It has been shown that regularly drinking hibiscus tea led to a reduction in blood pressure values over a period of six weeks. All the volunteers in the study had blood pressure values above 140/90 mmHg at the start of the research. At the end of the study, more than 60% of the volunteers had a pressure below 140/90 mmHg as an effect of taking hibiscus tea. Hibiscus provides anthocyanins, which help keep pressure under control, and in addition has a vasorelaxing action (Al Anbaki et al, Plants, 2021).
The anti-hypertensive action of garlic
Garlic is able to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive people (Ried et al, J Nutr, 2016). In addition to this property, garlic has also been shown to support the immune system and protect it from upper respiratory tract infections (Ried et al, J Nutr, 2016).