(By Kristin Janney MS, RD, Livestrong) Symptoms go unnoticed with high blood pressure or hypertension, but over time high blood pressure can have devastating effects. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Typically, it takes years for high blood pressure to develop and cause damage. It is easily detected and can be managed through diet alone or in combination with medications. Check with your health-care team before adding any supplement to your routine.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
ALA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants such as flax and walnuts. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, there is strong scientific evidence that suggests supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids results in small reductions in blood pressure.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
Similar to ALA, these essential fatty acids may decrease blood pressure slightly. Rather than coming from plant sources, these come from animal sources. Omega-3 supplements, cod liver oil and fatty fish are good sources of DHA and EPA.
The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports that replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains that contain high amount of fiber reduces blood pressure. Reduced blood pressure has also been associated with those on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which focuses on high-fiber fruits and vegetables.
Those with low calcium seem to be at higher risk for hypertension. The exact relationship between calcium and high blood pressure is unknown, but ensuring proper intake of calcium is helpful. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of calcium for adults is 1,000 mg a day and 1,200 mg a day for those over 50, according to the the extension at Colorado State University. Additional supplementation is not necessary.
Cocoa, derived from dark chocolate, contains compounds called flavanols. Research by the American Heart Association suggests blood pressure decreases with cocoa supplementation.
The Mayo Clinic reports that Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) supplementation can decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Although Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) is normally produced in the body, some people may have deficiencies. It is not understood whether high blood pressure influences low levels of CoQ10 or low levels of CoQ10 increase blood pressure, but supplementation seems to decrease blood pressure.
The journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians reports that garlic induces a small decrease in blood pressure. Evidence surrounding garlic is not consistent in its blood pressure-lowering effects. Larger studies are needed to confirm this.
Many people consume too much sodium and not enough potassium. Consuming enough potassium and limiting sodium can help control blood pressure, says the Colorado State extension. Instead of taking potassium supplements, consume potassium from food sources.