Adopting my Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet will go a long way toward helping you lower your blood pressure. But even if you stick to my healthy eating plan 100 percent of the time, you may still not get the most protective levels of key nutrients needed to combat high blood pressure. That’s because our soils have been depleted through decades of artificial fertilization and intensive farming, so many of our foods no longer have the ideal amount of natural antioxidants.
To ensure that you’re getting the support your body needs to lower blood pressure and maintain healthy blood pressure, I recommend taking targeted nutritional supplements every day. My Healthy Blood Pressure Supplementation Program includes the following supplements to help you lower your blood pressure:
A High-Potency Multinutrient Plus Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
The two core nutritional supplements that I recommend you take every day—no matter what your health status—are a high-potency multinutrient and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Taking a multi will even out the natural fluctuations in your diet and offset specific age- and medication-related deficiencies, while the omega-3s can get inside cardiac cells and provide many health benefits—including helping to lower blood pressure. Click here to get my specific recommendations on what a high-quality multinutrient should contain.
My “Awesome Foursome”
The “Awesome Foursome” is my name for the supplements coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose, which are crucial for cellular energy production. That’s important because the heart requires an immense amount of energy to be its most efficient. Everyone with cardiovascular concerns, particularly those trying to lower blood pressure naturally, should take these four supplements daily.
Nattokinase is derived from the traditional Japanese soy product natto. This supplement helps address one of the most overlooked problems in the development of arterial disease and high blood pressure: hyperviscosity, which refers to thick and sticky blood that moves slowly through the circulatory system. Hyperviscosity feeds the inflammatory process that damages arteries, and it also increases the risk of clot formation. Nattokinase reinforces the actions of plasmin, your body’s own enzyme that breaks down the clotting agent called fibrin, thereby preventing abnormal thickening of the blood and helping to lower blood pressure.
I recommend nattokinase supplements regularly to promote normal blood pressure. I have seen it result in such significant improvements that patients are often able to cut down, and sometimes even cut out, their high blood pressure medication. Nattokinase supplements are widely available in health food stores. As for dosage, start at 50 mg a day and raise the dose to 100 mg after a week. Note that people taking pharmaceutical blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) should not take nattokinase because the combination may thin the blood too much.
Garlic is an excellent natural blood thinner. So effective, in fact, that I instruct some patients to lay off garlic if they are on a pharmaceutical blood thinner like Coumadin. And as for its effect on blood pressure, a recent Australian review of 11 studies in which patients with high blood pressure were randomly given garlic or a placebo found that garlic can lower blood pressure as effectively as some drugs.
Since you need to eat about four cloves of garlic (about four grams) daily to achieve a noticeable blood pressure–lowering effect, a garlic supplement is a great option. I like enteric-coated softgel garlic capsules (softgels are better absorbed in the body). Take 500–1,000 mg daily in divided doses.
Hawthorn, like garlic, helps to lower blood pressure. Although hawthorn has been used medicinally for centuries, in the last 100 years it has become increasingly popular for cardiovascular health, including to lower blood pressure. Hawthorn acts in a fashion similar to a commonly prescribed class of high blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors, especially when combined with a garlic supplement. Specifically, the combination of hawthorn and garlic inhibits angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), minimizing the production of angiotensin II, a powerful blood vessel constrictor responsible for increasing blood pressure. I recommend 1,000–1,500 mg daily of hawthorn taken in divided doses.
Blood pressure naturally fluctuates over a 24-hour period, and is highest during the day and lowest at night. Researchers call this natural drop in pressure a nocturnal dip. Some people dip only slightly or not at all, while others dip as much as 20 to 30 percent from their daytime highs. The folks in the 20 percent to 30 percent range are called “extreme dippers.” Others, just called “dippers,” experience drops of 10 percent to 20 percent. And, as it turns out, both extreme dippers and dippers have a much lower rate of death from cardiovascular events. What’s more, melatonin—a hormone that contributes to regulation of circadian rhythms—can help you become one of these dippers.
Ongoing research has shown that oral melatonin supplements can promote the dipping process. Not surprisingly, the studies indicate that melatonin improves sleep quality, which allows the body to relax more. But they also show that melatonin is involved in biochemical reactions that influence blood pressure levels. I suggest 2.5 mg of melatonin at bedtime.
In a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who took more than 1,000 mcg a day of folate (folic acid) had an astonishing 46 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than those getting less than 200 mcg a day. (Discover why women are especially susceptible to high blood pressure and its negative impact on health.) While researchers have yet to explain the reason for the association between high folate intake and lower blood pressure, we do know that folic acid reduces homocysteine levels, and high homocysteine levels are toxic to blood vessels in the brain and heart.
This study also demonstrated that women who got their folate from dietary sources—such as oranges, leafy greens and beans—did not derive the same benefit as those taking folic acid supplements. Most of us only get about 200 mcg in foods, so I recommend taking at least 800 mcg a day in supplement form to promote normal blood pressure levels.