If you’re battling stubborn high blood pressure and trying to avoid being buried under a pile of pills, I get it. The struggle is real. And you’re not alone.
These days it seems like everyone over 45 is either trying to avoid blood pressure meds or cut back on them. And no matter where you are on that journey, the story is often eerily similar in the end.
Your blood pressure starts to creep up. Your doctor starts to nag you about switching to a joy-sapping “low-sodium” diet. And eventually, you give in and make the switch as your taste buds scream out in agony.
But if you’re like most folks, you soon find that your blood pressure barely budges. Because despite what we’ve all been told, salt affects a tiny percentage of folks with high blood pressure.
Now your doc will insist on bringing out the big guns… blood pressure meds. Soon you’re not just fighting hypertension alone. You’re also battling the fatigue, memory problems, and dizziness that can come with the drugs.
When the meds don’t knock you all the way back into the normal zone, your doc will want to bump up the dose or add more to the mix. But new research reveals another possible solution.
It’s a safe and natural way to gently shave a few points off your blood pressure without the dizzying side effects of more meds. In other words, it could be the perfect solution for someone with borderline high blood pressure issues.
Best of all, it’s delicious – because it’s found in watermelon.
Target blood pressure naturally
I’m obsessed with those “personal-sized” watermelons that have popped up in supermarkets in recent years. I can have fresh watermelon anytime I want now.
No more struggling to butcher an oversized melon. And you don’t have to find room for the leftovers in the fridge. You just slice those personal-sized puppies in half and break out the spoon.
But those watermelons have more going for them than just great taste. They’re also one of the best sources of lycopene around. And a new study finds this nutrient could hold the key to better blood pressure control.
At first glance, the overall improvement from the study doesn’t look all that dramatic. There was an average drop of 2.6 mmHg from the systolic (“top number”) blood pressure.
But this wasn’t a single outcome. It was an average. And in this case, there’s a sliding scale effect.
Some folks in the 10 randomized controlled trials in this analysis didn’t have very high blood pressure, to begin with. And for them, the lycopene didn’t make much difference (nor would you expect it to).
But folks with the highest blood pressure at the start saw even more significant improvements by the end. In other words, those people who need help most get a much bigger benefit.
How big of a benefit does lycopene potentially deliver? Well, that depends.
Unfortunately, this new analysis didn’t tease out the difference. But one study I shared with you a few years back found lycopene can cut blood pressure by as much as 10 points.
That’s better than what you’ll see from many meds and TWICE as good as what some will offer. Except, of course, it’s not a drug. It’s a natural compound you’ll find in watermelons, tomatoes, and other red fruits and veggies.
Put lycopene to work for you
The researchers in the new study speculate lycopene works so well because it helps improve the function of blood vessel walls, so they produce more nitric oxide. That, in turn, relaxes the blood vessels helping to smooth out blood flow and reduce blood pressure.
The new study doesn’t suggest a specific amount. But that other research I just mentioned tested 15 mg per day, which is about what you’ll get from two cups of watermelon.
And if you love watermelon, as I do, feel free to eat it daily. You don’t always have to carve up a melon to indulge, either. My local supermarket has just started carrying bags of frozen organic watermelon chunks, which are handy in a pinch (and they’re GREAT right out of the bag, still partially frozen).
But if you want to make sure you hit the lycopene levels used in studies such as this one and hit them consistently, you’ll want to consider a supplement. And if you opt to try one, you’re more likely to see those blood pressure improvements you’re looking for.
But don’t stop there. Make sure you’re getting enough potassium in your diet too. Cremini mushrooms, spinach, and Swiss chard are all excellent sources. And don’t skimp on the vitamin D either. In one study, ladies with low D were up to three times more likely to have high blood pressure than their peers with healthy levels.
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