High Blood Pressure: What Can You Do?



Whether you already have high blood pressure or hope to prevent it, some new studies may provide the information you need.

Everyone knows calcium keeps bones strong, but did you know it can also prevent high blood pressure? Previous studies have examined calcium's role in hypertension, but Dr. James H. Dwyer and his colleagues at the University of South California School of Medicine reported on their study of whether calcium prevents high blood pressure (Science News, November 21, 1992).

They examined 6,634 men and women from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Study which began in 1971 and ended in 1984. Dwyer found that people who consumed at least 1 gram of calcium a day lowered their risk of high blood pressure by about 12 percent.


cup of fresh cooked broccoli=177mg
buckwheat pancakes = 249 mg.
cup chili con carne with beans = 98 mg.
cup steamed beet greens =118 mg
cup steamed broccoli = 190 mg
cup collard greens = 282 mg
cup steamed chard leaves and stalks =155 mg
cup dandelion greens, steamed=337 mg
cup steamed mustard greens=308mg
cup steamed kale=130 mg
cup soybeans= 150 mg
cup turnip greens=375 mg
cup blueberries=100 mg
tablespoon blackstrap molasses=116mg
2 cup sesame seeds, dry=580 mg
cup of nonfat milk or yogurt=300 mg
cup of lowfat cottage cheese=155mg
ounces of shrimp=98 mg
oz. mackeral=221 mg
oz. sardines=367 mg
water packed for low fat

People who were lean, under age 40, and drank alcohol less than once a day, and ate foods containing at least a gram of calcium every day, reduced their risk of high blood pressure by 40 percent.

Dr. Dwyer believes increasing calcium intake during childhood has the potential for preventing high blood pressure. Dwyer and his group are currently studying whether calcium supplements can keep blood pressure low in a group of black teenagers at high risk for hypertension.

In a study reported in Circulation in November, A. Scherio and colleagues questioned 30,000 men about what they ate. The men with high blood pressure were more likely to eat fewer foods containing dietary fiber and magnesium than men with normal blood pressure. Men who reported eating fruits had a lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

Another study looked at the effects of n-3 fatty acids (found in fish oils) on blood pressure. The Radack study, reported in Archives of Internal Medicine (volume 151, 1991), provided the first controlled data indicating that low dose fish oil supplements will produce blood pressure reduction in people with borderline hypertension.

They compared fish oil capsules with safflower oil capsules. The dose was small enough that it could be achieved through eating fish. (Earlier studies used doses that were impractical in terms of quantity of capsules and caloric content.) An interesting side finding of the study was that increasing polyunsaturated fats (safflower oil) will not lower blood pressure.

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