Stressed? These superfoods can help normalize blood pressure
You are a palaeolithic man or woman, gathering the natural fruits and berries to feed your small tribe or settlement, when in the midst of gathering you are confronted with the distinct roar of your most dangerous nemesis. A sabre-toothed tiger breaches the brush and asserts it status above you on the food chain. As the stress hormones rush through your veins, your blood pressure rises, sugar is released and blood flows to your muscles, all in a quick fire effort to allow for a swift exit to a place of safety.
As we fast forward to present times, there are no sabre-toothed tigers, but there are holidays, parents-in-law, traffic jams and our perception of stress still results in the same physiological response. This would be ok, except it isn’t much use to just run away when confronted with back to back holiday events, hectic holiday shopping sprees, a traffic jam or a weekend with the in-laws. In addition, prolonged stress results in greater cardiovascular disease risk thanks to the increase in blood pressure.
Luckily, science can help us pick up the slack where evolution let us down.
We asked, registered nutritional therapist, Eva Humphries to break down the latest science on blood pressure balancing superfoods.
A study by the University of Connecticut assessed the effect of acai berry supplementation on healthy volunteers and found a single dose to be effective at reducing standing systolic blood pressure 1. This is especially promising, since they used a single dose of 500mg of acai for the study.
In real terms, just adding a teaspoon of Acai Powder to your morning smoothie or porridge may have a positive effect on blood pressure, allowing you to relax and enjoy those holiday events.
Physiologically, magnesium is the perfect antidote to the blood pressure increasing effects of stress. Where stress may lead to the constriction of certain blood vessels and increased blood pressure, magnesium relaxes, dilates and lowers the tension.
A large scale analysis of the latest gold standard studies concluded that magnesium supplementation for a single month is sufficient to lower blood pressure 2.
In case you aren’t a fan of popping pills, there are plenty of other ways to benefit from this relaxing supplement.
Magnesium Oil can be applied to the skin, magnesium sulphate (commonly known as epsom salt) can be used for bathing and a number of foods such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, kale and bananas are good dietary sources.
Maca is most commonly associated with hormone balance and fertility but it turns out its beneficial effects don’t just stop there.
A study by Victoria University in Australia assessing the effects of maca on postmenopausal women found this powdered root to be effective at reducing diastolic blood pressure 3.
Surprisingly, maca also improved symptoms of depression in this same population. 3
A teaspoon a day over a six week period is sufficient in initiating these beneficial changes.
Whilst these superfoods will go some way in buffering the blood pressure elevating effects of stress, don’t forget to address the root cause. Looking for more ways to de-stress during this hectic holiday season?
Check out our Top 5 Tips for Reducing Stress This Holiday Season.
By guest writer and superfood lover Eva Humphries of the Whole Food Warrior.
(1) Gale AM, Kaur R, Baker WL (2014) Hemodynamic and electrocardiographic effects of açaí
berry in healthy volunteers: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Cardiology,
(2) Zhang X, Li Y, Del Gobbo LC, Rosanoff A, Wang J, Zhang W, Song Y (2016) Effects of
magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized double-blind
placebo-controlled trials. Hypertension, 68: 324-333.
(3) Stojanovska L, Law C, Lai B, Chung T, Nelson K, Day S, Apostolopoulos V, Haines C (2015)
Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women.
Climacteric, 18: 69-78.
Sunfood’s “Natural Solutions” does not promote or suggest natural cures, natural healing or natural remedies for any disease, disorder or ailment thereof. This information should be treated as educational material gathered and discovered from various studies, clinical trials and customer reviews. It is designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, and independent conclusions in regards to natural products and alternative health choices. It is best to consult with your healthcare practitioner before attempting any form of natural cure, natural healing or natural remedy to any health issues.