According to the American Heart Association, roughly 103 million Americans (1 in 3 adults) have hypertension. Death from high blood pressure also rose by 11 percent between 2005 and 2015. While risk factors for hypertension are partly hereditary, environment and lifestyle choices also play a major role. Fortunately, one way you can keep hypertension within safe levels is via dietary nitrates, which elevate nitric oxide production. We’ll explore the nitric oxide blood pressure link and how NO in food or supplement form can be part of a dietary regimen.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
As mentioned, some factors causing high blood pressure are beyond your control. One of these is heredity; age is another factor and so are your gender and race. The risk of developing the condition dramatically increases once you reach the age of 45. Men are also at greater risk. African-Americans also face higher risk, followed by Hispanics, whites, and Asians in that order.
You’re not at the complete mercy of hypertension, however, as you can overcome some of the lifestyle factors that are fully within your control. This includes:
- Controlling your weight if you’re obese. You should at least be within 15 percent of your healthy body weight, according to the body mass index. Obese men and women are two to six times more likely to have hypertension.
- Reducing alcohol. Alcoholic beverages elevate blood pressure. If you enjoy your booze, limit the intake to no more than one drink per day.
- Getting more exercise. Sitting on a couch or office cubicle all day puts you at risk. Get your body moving, even if it’s just doing some deep knee bends right where you are. You can also use an elevated desk that enables you to work while standing.
- Making better food choices. Avoid foods devoid of nutrition, such as refined sugars, trans-fats, processed deli meats, etc.
How Does Nitric Oxide Fit into the Equation?
If you’re semi-familiar with NO, then you know it acts as a vasodilator. It dilates the blood vessels, allowing for optimum nutrient uptake and toxin removal. Most people actually take NO for increasing muscle mass and achieving the vascular look. Studies1, after all, do show that NO facilitates muscle repair and activates muscle satellite cells.
What is the nitric oxide blood pressure link, though? As it turns out, patients diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes or atherosclerosis also showed signs of deficient NO pathways. NO is vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure. NO is a naturally-occurring gas that instructs the blood vessels to relax and expand. Wider vessels mean more unrestricted blood flow. Pressure, after all, increases when blood is forced to travel through a narrow and restricted pathway.
What the Studies Show
A growing body of research also shows that dietary NO can reverse the symptoms associated with high blood pressure and the diseases to which it leads.
One study, for example, found that hypertensive patients who took an NO supplement over the course of a year saw their blood pressure return to normal levels. It should be noted that patients consisted of subjects diagnosed with argininosuccinic aciduria (ASA) and did not respond to traditional blood pressure medicine. ASA inhibits production of the argininosuccinate lyase enzyme, which is a key component in NO production.
The Journal of Clinical Hypertension also released its own report confirming the beneficial role of NO in hypertensive patients. A blinded, placebo-controlled study found that NO supplementation decreased both resting systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure within 20 minutes of oral ingestion. That’s not all; researchers also noticed a significant increase in endothelial function four hours after NO administration. The endothelium pertains to the cells that line the inner arterial wall.
A report published in the Journal of Nutrition confirmed the aforementioned studies. It found that beetroot juice, in particular, was effective in lowering blood pressure and improving artery dilation capacity by 20 percent. The hypertension-lowering effects were seen in both patients that were not taking medication and those who were on medication but had yet to reach their target blood pressure. To be sure the effects were due to the nitrates and not some other compounds, the placebo group received the beet juice with the nitrates removed. No changes were observed in the placebo group.
Consume Dietary Nitrates
Please see our list of NO-boosting foods. We can’t overemphasize the importance of making these foods a part of your diet. They contain nitrates that convert to nitric oxide in the body, thus supplying this critical gas in the instance that disease has suppressed your body’s natural NO production.
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You can also use a natural NO supplement like Redwood. The product contains the same compounds found in the NO foods on the list. This provides a convenient NO boost if you’re struggling to obtain it from food alone.
The Nitric Oxide-Blood Pressure Connection Is Irrefutable
There is a reason hypertension is called the silent killer. Most people don’t know they have it, and symptoms often don’t manifest until it’s too late. We strongly recommend adults of all ages get checked. You can use the blood pressure checkers freely available at Walmart, a grocery store or your local pharmacy. We realize some people are afraid to check for fear of an undesirable reading. The inconvenient truth, though, just might propel you to take a life-prolonging action.