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High blood pressure treatment: Garlic shown to rival drugs with fewer side effects

High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading

High blood pressure affects more than one in four adults in the UK yet its prevalence is not fully appreciated. The condition, whereby the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body, is largely symptomless. This makes it a highly pernicious killer.

Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily reversed by making simple dietary tweaks.

One of the most effective countermeasures is to up your intake of the herb garlic.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a vegetable that has been used as a natural blood-pressure-lowering remedy since ancient times.

Research suggests garlic’s blood pressure lowering-claims stands up to scientific scrutiny.

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In fact, some studies report it to be as effective as standard blood-pressure-lowering medications — with much fewer side effects.

One review of randomised controlled trials (RCT) — the gold standard in research — reported that garlic supplements may reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers of a reading) by 6.7 and 4.8 mmHg, respectively, with no serious side effects.

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure are the two numbers used to record blood pressure.

The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body and diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

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The studies included in the review provided participants with 188–2,400 mg of garlic powder supplements or aged garlic extracts per day and lasted eight to 12 weeks.

Several other recent reviews support these results, with many reporting blood pressure reductions ranging from 2.5–11.2 mm Hg following taking 600–2,400 mg of garlic powder per day for eight to 24 weeks.

It’s significant that although garlic’s blood-pressure-lowering effects appear universal, they seem greatest in people with elevated blood pressures, compared with those with blood pressures within the normal range, researchers conclude.

General dietary tips to lower high blood pressure

There are also some general dietary principles that can help to control your blood pressure.

One of the most fundamental is to cut back on salt – salt raises your blood pressure.

According to the NHS, you should aim to eat less than six grams (0.2oz) a day, which is about a teaspoonful.

A handy tip to cut back is to look out for the salt content in the everyday foods you buy, and choose lower-salt options, advises the NHS.

“Nutrition labels on food packaging now make this a lot easier,” notes the health body.

Regular exercise is also integral to lowering high blood pressure.

The Mayo Clinic explains: “Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort.

“If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.”

According to the health body, becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — by an average of four to nine millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).

That’s as good as some blood pressure medications.

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