I have a lot of natural blood pressure lowering methods for you that have been clinically tested (I’ll post the links too so you can read them and decide if any are right for you) and shown to have benefits. Anecdotally, all of these combined helped drop my average blood pressure by 22/12 points without any medication or negative side effects.
The first is increasing fiber intake. You’re on a plant based diet so presumably you’re hitting the recommended 30 grams daily intake of fiber. However, in studies done on rural populations in third world countries like Africa where high blood pressure is literally nonexistent, they are eating upwards of 80+ grams of fiber a day and have an average blood pressure of 105/67 to show for it.
The second is salt intake. I know you said you use very little salt which is great! It would be worth your while to track your salt intake for a few days just to make sure you are staying under the 1,500 to 2,000mg recommendation by the AHA. A lot of sauces or processed foods sneak in a ton of salt without tasting salty and tipping you off to it. I thought I had good control over my salt intake and then I tracked it and found out I actually was eating 6,000mg of salt a day, and I barely ever added salt to meals at that time. A good rule is to read the nutrition label and if it has more milligrams of salt than there are calories per serving, then it has too much salt in it. The reasoning here is that if you eat a diet of 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day and you only eat foods that have less salt than calories, you will always end up eating the same or lesser amount of salt as you do calories, coming in under 2,000 a day.
2-3 tbsp of ground flax seeds per day rivals some blood pressure meds.
4 tea bags worth of hibiscus tea per day has been shown to drop blood pressure.
The following are things that have been shown to “enhance endothelial function” (meaning your arteries are able to be more compliant and maintain a healthy blood pressure):
2 tbsp of vinegar per day. Most kinds of vinegar seem to have at least a little effect but I personally use balsamic or apple cider vinegar since they have more palatability for salads and homemade sauces.
An ounce of walnuts or pistachios per day. I saw that you were on a very low fat vegan diet, hopefully not so low that you’re excluding healthy nuts. Walnuts/pistachios have been shown to improve artery function, prevent strokes, and lower cholesterol.
1.5 cups of blueberries per day.
2 tbsp of cacao powder, basically just chocolate without the milk/fat/sugar added to it. Great for smoothies. Avoid the dutch processed stuff, it loses a lot of nutrients when it gets processed.
Nitrate rich vegetables. I usually go for arugula, beets, or spinach since they are so easily incorporated into meals. These veggies are some of the highest supply sources of the precursor that our bodies use to make nitric oxide, which is what keeps our arteries healthy and allows them to respond and relax to high blood pressure.
Hope some of this helps.
CE Evans, DC Greenwood, DE Threapleton, CL Cleghorn, C Nykjaer, CE Woodhead, CP Gale and VJ Burley,
Journal of hypertension, May 2015
To determine the effect of different types of dietary fibre on SBP and DBP.A systematic review of the literature and a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials using random-effects models. Eligibility criteria for studies included randomized controlled trials of at least 6 weeks duration, testing a fibre isolate or fibre-rich diet against a control or placebo published between 1 January 1990 and 1 December 2013.Twenty-eight trials met the inclusion criteria and reported fibre intake and SBP and/or DBP. Eighteen trials were included in a meta-analysis. Studies were categorized into 1 of 12 fibre-type categories. The pooled estimates for all fibre types were -0.9 mmHg [95% confidence interval (CI) -2.5 to 0.6 mmHg] and -0.7 mmHg (95% CI -1.9 to 0.5 mmHg) for SBP and DBP, respectively. The median difference in total fibre was 6 g. Analyses of specific fibre types concluded that diets rich in beta-glucans reduce SBP by 2.9 mmHg (95% CI 0.9 to 4.9 mmHg) and DBP by 1.5 mmHg (95% CI 0.2 to 2.7 mmHg) for a median difference in beta-glucans of 4 g. Heterogeneity for individual fibre types was generally low.Higher consumption of beta-glucan fibre is associated with lower SBP and DBP. The results of this review are consistent with recommendations to increase consumption of foods rich in dietary fibre, but some additional emphasis on sources of beta-glucans, such as oats and barley, may be warranted.
SP Whelton, AD Hyre, B Pedersen, Y Yi, PK Whelton and J He,
Journal of hypertension, Mar 2005
We conducted a meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials published in English-language journals before February 2004, to assess the effect of dietary fiber intake on blood pressure (BP).Using a standardized protocol, information on study design, sample size, participant characteristics, duration of follow-up and change in mean BP, was abstracted. The data from each study were pooled using a random effects model to provide an overall estimate of dietary fiber intake on BP.Dietary fiber intake was the only significant intervention difference between the active and control groups.Overall, dietary fiber intake was associated with a significant -1.65 mmHg [95% confidence interval (CI), -2.70 to -0.61] reduction in diastolic BP (DBP) and a non-significant -1.15 mmHg (95% CI, -2.68 to 0.39) reduction in systolic BP (SBP). A significant reduction in both SBP and DBP was observed in trials conducted among patients with hypertension (SBP -5.95 mmHg, 95% CI, -9.50 to -2.40; DBP -4.20 mmHg, 95% CI, -6.55 to -1.85) and in trials with a duration of intervention > or = 8 weeks (SBP -3.12 mmHg, 95% CI, -5.68 to -0.56; DBP -2.57 mmHg, 95% CI, -4.01 to -1.14).Our results indicate that increased intake of dietary fiber may reduce BP in patients with hypertension and suggests a smaller, non-conclusive, reduction in normotensives. An intervention period of at least 8 weeks may be necessary to achieve the maximum reduction in BP. Our findings warrant conduct of additional clinical trials with a larger sample size and longer period of intervention to examine the effect of dietary fiber intake on BP.
S Khalesi, C Irwin and M Schubert,
The Journal of nutrition, Apr 2015
High blood pressure is a major health burden positively associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Flaxseed is a rich dietary source of α-linolenic acid, lignans, and fiber, with a number of positive health benefits on blood pressure.The purpose of this study was to clarify the effect of flaxseed consumption on blood pressure. Further, the influence of baseline blood pressure, type of flaxseed supplementation, and duration of flaxseed supplementation on blood pressure was explored.PubMed (MEDLINE), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Cochrane Library (Central) were searched through July 2014 for studies in which humans supplemented their habitual diet with flaxseed or its extracts (i.e., oil, lignans, fiber) for ≥2 wk.A total of 11 studies (14 trials) were included in the analysis. Random-effects meta-analyses were conducted for the mean difference in blood pressure. Results indicated that flaxseed supplementation reduced systolic blood pressure (-1.77 mm Hg; 95% CI: -3.45, -0.09 mm Hg; P = 0.04) and diastolic blood pressure (-1.58 mm Hg; 95% CI: -2.64, -0.52 mm Hg; P = 0.003). These results were not influenced by categorization of participants into higher baseline blood pressure (≥130 mm Hg). An improvement in diastolic blood pressure was observed in subgroup analysis for consuming whole flaxseed (-1.93 mm Hg; 95% CI: -3.65, -0.21 mm Hg; P < 0.05) and duration of consumption ≥12 wk (-2.17 mm Hg; 95% CI: -3.44, -0.89 mm Hg; P < 0.05).The present meta-analysis suggests that consumption of flaxseed may lower blood pressure slightly. The beneficial potential of flaxseed to reduce blood pressure (especially diastolic blood pressure) may be greater when it is consumed as a whole seed and for a duration of >12 wk.
AL Hopkins, MG Lamm, JL Funk and C Ritenbaugh,
Fitoterapia, Mar 2013
The effectiveness of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (HS) in the treatment of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease is assessed in this review by taking a comprehensive approach to interpreting the randomized clinical trial (RCT) results in the context of the available ethnomedical, phytochemical, pharmacological, and safety and toxicity information. HS decoctions and infusions of calyxes, and on occasion leaves, are used in at least 10 countries worldwide in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia with no reported adverse events or side effects. HS extracts have a low degree of toxicity with a LD50 ranging from 2,000 to over 5,000mg/kg/day. There is no evidence of hepatic or renal toxicity as the result of HS extract consumption, except for possible adverse hepatic effects at high doses. There is evidence that HS acts as a diuretic, however in most cases the extract did not significantly influence electrolyte levels. Animal studies have consistently shown that consumption of HS extract reduces blood pressure in a dose dependent manner. In RCTs, the daily consumption of a tea or extract produced from HS calyxes significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in adults with pre to moderate essential hypertension and type 2 diabetes. In addition, HS tea was as effective at lowering blood pressure as the commonly used blood pressure medication Captropril, but less effective than Lisinopril. Total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and triglycerides were lowered in the majority of normolipidemic, hyperlipidemic, and diabetic animal models, whereas high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) was generally not affected by the consumption of HS extract. Over half of the RCTs showed that daily consumption of HS tea or extracts had favorable influence on lipid profiles including reduced total cholesterol, LDL-C, triglycerides, as well as increased HDL-C. Anthocyanins found in abundance in HS calyxes are generally considered the phytochemicals responsible for the antihypertensive and hypocholesterolemic effects, however evidence has also been provided for the role of polyphenols and hibiscus acid. A number of potential mechanisms have been proposed to explain the hypotensive and anticholesterol effects, but the most common explanation is the antioxidant effects of the anthocyanins inhibition of LDL-C oxidation, which impedes atherosclerosis, an important cardiovascular risk factor. This comprehensive body of evidence suggests that extracts of HS are promising as a treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia, however more high quality animal and human studies informed by actual therapeutic practices are needed to provide recommendations for use that have the potential for widespread public health benefit.
A Herrera-Arellano, S Flores-Romero, MA Chávez-Soto and J Tortoriello,
Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, Jul 2004
In order to compare the antihypertensive effectiveness and tolerability of a standardized extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa with captopril, a controlled and randomized clinical trial was done. Patients from 30 to 80 years old with diagnosed hypertension and without antihypertensive treatment for at least 1 month before were included. The experimental procedure consisted of the administration of an infusion prepared with 10 g of dry calyx from H. sabdariffa on 0.51 water (9.6 mg anthocyanins content), daily before breakfast, or captopril 25 mg twice a day, for 4 weeks. The outcome variables were tolerability, therapeutic effectiveness (diastolic reduction > or = 10 mm Hg) and, in the experimental group, urinary electrolytes modification. Ninety subjects were included, 15 withdrew from the study due to non-medical reasons; so, the analysis included 39 and 36 patients from the experimental and control group, respectively. The results showed that H. sabdariffa was able to decrease the systolic blood pressure (BP) from 139.05 to 123.73mm Hg (ANOVA p < 0.03) and the diastolic BP from 90.81 to 79.52mm Hg (ANOVA p < 0.06). At the end of the study, there were no significant differences between the BP detected in both treatment groups (ANOVA p > 0.25). The rates of therapeutic effectiveness were 0.7895 and 0.8438 with H. sabdariffa and captopril, respectively (chi2, p > 0.560), whilst the tolerability was 100% for both treatments. A natriuretic effect was observed with the experimental treatment. The obtained data confirm that the H. sabdariffa extract, standardized on 9.6mg of total anthocyanins, and captopril 50 mg/day, did not show significant differences relative to hypotensive effect, antihypertensive effectiveness, and tolerability.
S Sakakibara, R Murakami, M Takahashi, T Fushimi, T Murohara, M Kishi, Y Kajimoto, M Kitakaze and T Kaga,
Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 2010
This study examined the effect of acetate on endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) by immunoblotting assay and the ability of acetic acid to upregulate flow-mediated vasodilatation in humans. In HUVECs, acetate induced a biphasic increase in the phosphorylated form of eNOS. The amount of phosphorylated eNOS was significantly increased by exposure to 200 mumol/l acetate for 20 min (early phase) and for 4 h (late phase). The inhibitors of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) blocked acetate-induced eNOS phosphorylation in the early and the late phase respectively. Furthermore, in postmenopausal women, maximum forearm blood flow (FBF) in response to shear stress increased in the vinegar (acetic acid) administered group compared to the placebo group. These results suggest that acetic acid-induced eNOS phosphorylation contributes to upregulation of flow-mediated vasodilatation in humans.
N Mohammadifard, A Salehi-Abargouei, J Salas-Salvadó, M Guasch-Ferré, K Humphries and N Sarrafzadegan,
The American journal of clinical nutrition, May 2015
Although several studies have assessed the effects of nut consumption (tree nuts, peanuts, and soy nuts) on blood pressure (BP), the results are conflicting.The aim was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to estimate the effect of nut consumption on BP.The databases MEDLINE, SCOPUS, ISI Web of Science, and Google Scholar were searched for RCTs carried out between 1958 and October 2013 that reported the effect of consuming single or mixed nuts (including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, peanuts, and soy nuts) on systolic BP (SBP) or diastolic BP (DBP) as primary or secondary outcomes in adult populations aged ≥18 y. Relevant articles were identified by screening the abstracts and titles and the full text. Studies that evaluated the effects for <2 wk or in which the control group ingested different healthy oils were excluded. Mean ± SD changes in SBP and DBP in each treatment group were recorded for meta-analysis.Twenty-one RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Our findings suggest that nut consumption leads to a significant reduction in SBP in participants without type 2 diabetes [mean difference (MD): -1.29; 95% CI: -2.35, -0.22; P = 0.02] but not in the total population. Subgroup analyses of different nut types suggest that pistachios, but not other nuts, significantly reduce SBP (MD: -1.82; 95% CI: -2.97, -0.67; P = 0.002). Our study suggests that pistachios (MD: -0.80; 95% CI: -1.43, -0.17; P = 0.01) and mixed nuts (MD: -1.19; 95% CI: -2.35, -0.03; P = 0.04) have a significant reducing effect on DBP. We found no significant changes in DBP after the consumption of other nuts.Total nut consumption lowered SBP in participants without type 2 diabetes. Pistachios seemed to have the strongest effect on reducing SBP and DBP. Mixed nuts also reduced DBP.
DL Katz, A Davidhi, Y Ma, Y Kavak, L Bifulco and VY Njike,
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Dec 2012
Metabolic syndrome is a precursor of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Walnut ingestion has been shown to reduce CVD risk indices in diabetes. This randomized controlled crossover trial was performed to investigate the effects of daily walnut consumption on endothelial function and other biomarkers of cardiac risk in a population of overweight individuals with visceral adiposity.Forty-six overweight adults (average age, 57.4 years; 28 women, 18 men) with elevated waist circumference and 1 or more additional signs of metabolic syndrome were randomly assigned to two 8-week sequences of walnut-enriched ad libitum diet and ad libitum diet without walnuts, which were separated by a 4-week washout period. The primary outcome measure was the change in flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) of the brachial artery. Secondary measures included serum lipid panel, fasting glucose and insulin, Homeostasis Model Assessment-Insulin Resistance values, blood pressure, and anthropometric measures.FMD improved significantly from baseline when subjects consumed a walnut-enriched diet as compared with the control diet (1.4% ± 2.4% versus 0.3% ± 1.5%; p = 0.019). Beneficial trends in systolic blood pressure reduction were seen, and maintenance of the baseline anthropometric values was also observed. Other measures were unaltered.Daily ingestion of 56 g of walnuts improves endothelial function in overweight adults with visceral adiposity. The addition of walnuts to the diet does not lead to weight gain. Further study of the potential role of walnut intake in diabetes and CVD prevention is warranted.
B Cortés, I Núñez, M Cofán, R Gilabert, A Pérez-Heras, E Casals, R Deulofeu and E Ros,
Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Oct 2006 17
We sought to investigate whether the addition of walnuts or olive oil to a fatty meal have differential effects on postprandial vasoactivity, lipoproteins, markers of oxidation and endothelial activation, and plasma asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA).Compared with a Mediterranean diet, a walnut diet has been shown to improve endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic patients. We hypothesized that walnuts would reverse postprandial endothelial dysfunction associated with consumption of a fatty meal.We randomized in a crossover design 12 healthy subjects and 12 patients with hypercholesterolemia to 2 high-fat meal sequences to which 25 g olive oil or 40 g walnuts had been added. Both test meals contained 80 g fat and 35% saturated fatty acids, and consumption of each meal was separated by 1 week. Venipunctures and ultrasound measurements of brachial artery endothelial function were performed after fasting and 4 h after test meals.In both study groups, flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was worse after the olive oil meal than after the walnut meal (p = 0.006, time-period interaction). Fasting, but not postprandial, triglyceride concentrations correlated inversely with FMD (r = -0.324; p = 0.024). Flow-independent dilation and plasma ADMA concentrations were unchanged, and the concentration of oxidized low-density lipoproteins decreased (p = 0.051) after either meal. The plasma concentrations of soluble inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules decreased (p < 0.01) independently of meal type, except for E-selectin, which decreased more (p = 0.033) after the walnut meal.Adding walnuts to a high-fat meal acutely improves FMD independently of changes in oxidation, inflammation, or ADMA. Both walnuts and olive oil preserve the protective phenotype of endothelial cells.
P Casas-Agustench, P López-Uriarte, E Ros, M Bulló and J Salas-Salvadó,
Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD, Jun 2011
High blood pressure (BP) is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Among lifestyle factors, diet plays a key role in the prevention and control of high BP. Therefore, it is important to elucidate which dietary components can exert beneficial effects on BP through modulation of endothelial function (EF) or by other mechanisms. In this paper we review the role of nutrients, foods, particularly nuts, and dietary patterns on BP control.Because nuts are low in sodium and contain significant amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium, and antioxidants, they have been suggested as potentially protective foods against hypertension. Limited evidence from prospective studies and clinical trials suggests that nut consumption has a beneficial effect on both BP and EF. However, BP changes were a secondary outcome in nut feeding trials and no study used ambulatory BP monitoring as the standard for BP measurements.Further clinical trials, ideally using ambulatory BP monitoring, are needed to establish the potential protective effect of nut consumption on hypertension and vascular reactivity.
SA Johnson, A Figueroa, N Navaei, A Wong, R Kalfon, LT Ormsbee, RG Feresin, ML Elam, S Hooshmand, ME Payton and BH Arjmandi,
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Mar 2015
Postmenopausal women have a high prevalence of hypertension and often develop arterial stiffness thereby increasing cardiovascular disease risk. Although antihypertensive drug therapies exist, increasing numbers of people prefer natural therapies. In vivo studies and a limited number of clinical studies have demonstrated the antihypertensive and vascular-protective effects of blueberries.To examine the effects of daily blueberry consumption for 8 weeks on blood pressure and arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women with pre- and stage 1-hypertension.This was an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.Forty-eight postmenopausal women with pre- and stage 1-hypertension recruited from the greater Tallahassee, FL, area participated.Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 22 g freeze-dried blueberry powder or 22 g control powder.Resting brachial systolic and diastolic blood pressures were evaluated and arterial stiffness was assessed using carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity. C-reactive protein, nitric oxide, and superoxide dismutase were measured at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks.Statistical analysis was performed using a split plot model of repeated measures analysis of variance.After 8 weeks, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure (131±17 mm Hg [P<0.05] and 75±9 mm Hg [P<0.01], respectively) and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (1,401±122 cm/second; P<0.01) were significantly lower than baseline levels (138±14 mm Hg, 80±7 mm Hg, and 1,498±179 cm/second, respectively), with significant (P<0.05) group×time interactions in the blueberry powder group, whereas there were no changes in the group receiving the control powder. Nitric oxide levels were greater (15.35±11.16 μmol/L; P<0.01) in the blueberry powder group at 8 weeks compared with baseline values (9.11±7.95 μmol/L), whereas there were no changes in the control group.Daily blueberry consumption may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, which may be due, in part, to increased nitric oxide production.
A Rodriguez-Mateos, C Rendeiro, T Bergillos-Meca, S Tabatabaee, TW George, C Heiss and JP Spencer,
The American journal of clinical nutrition, Nov 2013
There are very limited data regarding the effects of blueberry flavonoid intake on vascular function in healthy humans.We investigated the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on endothelial function in healthy men and assessed potential mechanisms of action by the assessment of circulating metabolites and neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity.Two randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover human-intervention trials were conducted with 21 healthy men. Initially, the impact of blueberry flavonoid intake on flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and polyphenol absorption and metabolism was assessed at baseline and 1, 2, 4, and 6 h after consumption of blueberry containing 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols or a macronutrient- and micronutrient-matched control drink (0 mg total blueberry polyphenols). Second, an intake-dependence study was conducted (from baseline to 1 h) with 319, 637, 766, 1278, and 1791 mg total blueberry polyphenols and a control.We observed a biphasic time-dependent increase in FMD, with significant increases at 1-2 and 6 h after consumption of blueberry polyphenols. No significant intake-dependence was observed between 766 and 1791 mg. However, at 1 h after consumption, FMD increased dose dependently to ≤766 mg total blueberry polyphenol intake, after which FMD plateaued. Increases in FMD were closely linked to increases in circulating metabolites and by decreases in neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity at 1-2 and 6 h.Blueberry intake acutely improves vascular function in healthy men in a time- and intake-dependent manner. These benefits may be mechanistically linked to the actions of circulating phenolic metabolites on neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01292954 and NCT01829542.
Z Faridi, VY Njike, S Dutta, A Ali and DL Katz,
The American journal of clinical nutrition, Jul 2008
Studies suggest cardioprotective benefits of dark chocolate containing cocoa.This study examines the acute effects of solid dark chocolate and liquid cocoa intake on endothelial function and blood pressure in overweight adults.Randomized, placebo-controlled, single-blind crossover trial of 45 healthy adults [mean age: 53 y; mean body mass index (in kg/m(2)): 30]. In phase 1, subjects were randomly assigned to consume a solid dark chocolate bar (containing 22 g cocoa powder) or a cocoa-free placebo bar (containing 0 g cocoa powder). In phase 2, subjects were randomly assigned to consume sugar-free cocoa (containing 22 g cocoa powder), sugared cocoa (containing 22 g cocoa powder), or a placebo (containing 0 g cocoa powder).Solid dark chocolate and liquid cocoa ingestion improved endothelial function (measured as flow-mediated dilatation) compared with placebo (dark chocolate: 4.3 +/- 3.4% compared with -1.8 +/- 3.3%; P < 0.001; sugar-free and sugared cocoa: 5.7 +/- 2.6% and 2.0 +/- 1.8% compared with -1.5 +/- 2.8%; P < 0.001). Blood pressure decreased after the ingestion of dark chocolate and sugar-free cocoa compared with placebo (dark chocolate: systolic, -3.2 +/- 5.8 mm Hg compared with 2.7 +/- 6.6 mm Hg; P < 0.001; and diastolic, -1.4 +/- 3.9 mm Hg compared with 2.7 +/- 6.4 mm Hg; P = 0.01; sugar-free cocoa: systolic, -2.1 +/- 7.0 mm Hg compared with 3.2 +/- 5.6 mm Hg; P < 0.001; and diastolic: -1.2 +/- 8.7 mm Hg compared with 2.8 +/- 5.6 mm Hg; P = 0.014). Endothelial function improved significantly more with sugar-free than with regular cocoa (5.7 +/- 2.6% compared with 2.0 +/- 1.8%; P < 0.001).The acute ingestion of both solid dark chocolate and liquid cocoa improved endothelial function and lowered blood pressure in overweight adults. Sugar content may attenuate these effects, and sugar-free preparations may augment them.
S Lidder and AJ Webb,
British journal of clinical pharmacology, Mar 2013
The discovery that dietary (inorganic) nitrate has important vascular effects came from the relatively recent realization of the 'nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide (NO) pathway'. Dietary nitrate has been demonstrated to have a range of beneficial vascular effects, including reducing blood pressure, inhibiting platelet aggregation, preserving or improving endothelial dysfunction, enhancing exercise performance in healthy individuals and patients with peripheral arterial disease. Pre-clinical studies with nitrate or nitrite also show the potential to protect against ischaemia-reperfusion injury and reduce arterial stiffness, inflammation and intimal thickness. However, there is a need for good evidence for hard endpoints beyond epidemiological studies. Whilst these suggest reduction in cardiovascular risk with diets high in nitrate-rich vegetables (such as a Mediterranean diet), others have suggested possible small positive and negative associations with dietary nitrate and cancer, but these remain unproven. Interactions with other nutrients, such as vitamin C, polyphenols and fatty acids may enhance or inhibit these effects. In order to provide simple guidance on nitrate intake from different vegetables, we have developed the Nitrate 'Veg-Table' with 'Nitrate Units' [each unit being 1 mmol of nitrate (62 mg)] to achieve a nitrate intake that is likely to be sufficient to derive benefit, but also to minimize the risk of potential side effects from excessive ingestion, given the current available evidence. The lack of data concerning the long term effects of dietary nitrate is a limitation, and this will need to be addressed in future trials.