Elevated blood pressure is the main cause of stroke, cardiovascular disease and early death. For quite some time, there has been evidence that intake of fruit and vegetables affects the risk of developing elevated blood pressure. Science has not yet studied if this is due to the antioxidants in our diets, but a team of French scientists has looked closer at this. The researchers found that the total amount of antioxidants in our diet may lower by 15 percent the risk of elevated blood pressure. The potassium in fruit and vegetables also play a determining role in blood pressure management, and the same goes for Q10 – provided you take quality supplements with proper absorption.
The French scientists based their study on the assumption that there is a link between oxidative stress and elevated blood pressure. The body is exposed to oxidative stress when the balance between potentially harmful free radicals and protective antioxidants is disrupted. Free radicals are highly aggressive molecules that happen to be a natural by product of cellular energy turnover, and the free radical load is increased by factors such as ageing, stress, inflammation, poisoning, tobacco smoke, and radiation.
Our only source of protection against free radicals is different antioxidants like vitamin A (especially beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, Q10, and various plant compounds such as polyphenols. Oxidative stress sets the stage for a host of different chronic ailments. In the case of elevated blood pressure, it is believed that oxidative stress damages the endothelial cells that line the inside of the blood vessels.
Endothelial cells have a number of functions such as preventing the blood from coagulating and dispatching signaling compounds that control the blood vessel diameter and the blood supply to various organs. Endothelial cells also control the attraction of immune cells in the case of lesions and infections. Subsequently, if free radicals damage these cells it may have widespread consequences. When there is oxidative stress, free radicals attack the LDL cholesterol, causing it to stick to the blood vessel walls. It is this process, not cholesterol in itself, that increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis makes arteries stiffer and causes them to lose their elasticity. This forces the heart muscle to work much harder, and that is why the blood pressure goes up.
Dietary antioxidants can reduce the risk of elevated blood pressure by 15 percent
The French researchers used data from 40,576 French women, all of whom had taken part in an even larger population study (E3N) that started in 1990. The study looked at diet, cancer, and chronic disease. Women with preexisting hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or cancer were excluded. Once every two or three years, the women were asked to fill out questionnaires about their dietary habits up until 2008. By studying these data with help from an Italian database and a special system called HAT (Hydrogen Atom Transfer), the scientists were able to calculate the total antioxidant content in the diet. This is known as TAC – or total antioxidant capacity. The participants were also asked to inform about any use of nutritional supplements. From 1993 and in the follow-up studies (1994, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2005, and 2008), the women were also asked to inform if they suffered from elevated blood pressure and to specify when exactly they received their diagnosis. After an average period of 12.7 years, it turned out that 9.530 of the 40.576 women had elevated blood pressure.
The scientists could see a direct link between antioxidant intake and the risk of elevated blood pressure. More precisely, it turned out that the quintile of women with the highest intake of antioxidants from fruit, vegetables, berries, wine, and other sources had a 15 percent lower risk of developing elevated blood pressure.
The scientists did not observe a statistically significant relation between antioxidants from coffee, tea, and chocolate and the risk of elevated blood pressure
The researchers tell that this is the first study to look closer at the link between total intake of dietary antioxidants and the risk of elevated blood pressure. They do, however, admit that the study has certain limitations. For instance, it is possible that the participants that ate the highest quantity of fruit and vegetables may also have a healthier lifestyle with regard to exercise, sleep, and other habits.
The scientists even refer to studies like SU.VI.MAX, in which no link was found between antioxidant supplementation and the risk of elevated blood pressure. They suggest that it is important to get the antioxidants from the diet, where they are a part of a synergy together with other nutrients. When taking nutritional supplements, it is essential to choose products that have a proper quality, so the body can absorb and utilize the active ingredients. The best way to ensure this is to request scientific documentation.
Potassium is also vital for blood pressure regulation
There is quite a lot of potassium in fruit and vegetables, and they are also a rich source of antioxidants. Potassium regulates and lowers blood pressure by way of different mechanisms that include enzyme processes and nerve system impulses to the muscles and the heart. It is also possible that increased potassium intake can lower blood pressure by increasing the excretion of sodium. Too much sodium in the system is known to increase blood pressure.
Our modern way of living is what causes the widespread problems with potassium deficiency
The combination of refined food, too much salt, coffee, and alcohol, plus stress takes its toll on the body’s potassium status, by increasing the amount of potassium that is excreted. Also, diuretics add to the problem.
Q10 supplementation can reduce your blood pressure significantly
Q10 is primarily known for its role in cellular energy turnover, and the hard-working heart is in particular need of the compound. Q10 is also a powerful and important antioxidant that protects our cells against oxidative stress, including the endothelial cells in the vessel wall lining. The body is able to synthesize Q10, but our endogenous production gradually decreases with age, and that may affect our risk of developing atherosclerosis and elevated blood pressure.
Two meta-analyses that were headed by the Australian cardiologist, Professor Franklin L. Rosenfeldt have shown that supplementation with Q10 twice daily (with a meal) can significantly lower both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
Q10 supplements must be pharmaceutical-grade
The quality of a Q10 product is of vital importance to the outcome of studies where such supplements are used. This is because Q10 is a substance, which the body has difficulty with absorbing, unless the Q10 molecules are free and unattached. In order to keep the molecules free, the Q10 raw material must be dissolved in a special type of oil and exposed to a heating technique that prevents the Q10 molecules from aggregating in large crystal formations.
When choosing a Q10 supplement, it is therefore a good idea to stick with this unique, patented method. Scientific studies document its bioavailability and effect.
Paola Villaverde et al. High dietary total antioxidant capacity is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension in French Women. Nutrition Journal 2019
Michael S. Stone. Potassium Intake, Bioavailability, Hypertension, and glucose Control. Nutrients. 2016
Houston M.C. The importance of potassium in managing hypertension. Curr. Hypertens. Rep. 2011. PubMed
William V. Judy Coenzyme Q10. An Insider´s Guide. Ny Videnskab 2018
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