The Sweet Treat Secret to Flexible Arteries
Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
If you have problems keeping your blood pressure under control, chances are you’re suffering from something called arterial stiffness.
Arterial stiffness is just what it sounds like. Your arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart) lose their flexibility and stiffen up.
When your blood vessels are less flexible, your heart has to work harder to move blood through them, causing your blood pressure to climb.
It might seem like there’s nothing you can do except perhaps pop some blood pressure pills to bring your numbers down. But the fact is you CAN help increase the flexibility of your blood vessels.
And it turns out the surprising solution is downright delicious.
I’m talking about cocoa.
The cocoa bean is packed with natural antioxidants called flavanols which could turn out to be just the nudge your blood pressure needs to move in the right direction.
In a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers gave eleven healthy participants either six cocoa flavanol capsules or six placebo capsules and then ran some tests.
The folks who took the cocoa had significantly lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
Even better, the flavanols only worked when they were needed. On the days a volunteer’s blood pressure was already running lower, the cocoa didn’t have as dramatic an effect.
The researchers worried this might be a flaw, but it’s clearly a positive feature. The cocoa only works when you need it to. Exactly as it should be.
This study, and others like it, confirm the importance of getting plenty of flavanols in your diet. Other foods high in flavanols include berries, red cabbage, kale, onions, red wine, and tea.
But don’t stop there. I have a few more suggestions to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Dr. Scott’s Blood Pressure Control Program:
- Exercise: Consistent exercise is one of your best tools for keeping your blood pressure low. In fact, research shows it can help even in difficult-to-treat situations. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym either. Three 40-minute exercise sessions a week should do the trick. But make it something you ENJOY doing, like gardening or dancing, and you’ll look forward to being active.
- Vitamin C: Some scientists speculate that high blood pressure may be a form of scurvy (extremely low vitamin C). And while that’s up for debate, the relationship between blood pressure and C isn’t. Your blood vessels need vitamin C to be healthy. But remember, we’re one of a few mammals who can’t produce their own. Anyone who doesn’t supplement likely doesn’t get enough vitamin C, so add it to your list.
- CoQ10: This antioxidant/enzyme is found throughout our bodies and is used for cellular energy production. The heart is one of the most energy-hungry organs in our bodies, and supplementing with CoQ10 could help improve heart function. CoQ10 has been shown to help lower inflammation, reduce blood clots, cut blood pressure, and prevent arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation.
- Potassium: Potassium is a mineral needed throughout your body, but especially in your heart. Supplementing with potassium isn’t a good idea. Instead, get your potassium through your diet. Foods rich in potassium include sweet potatoes, coconut water, lentils, watermelon, black beans, beets, and avocados.
- Fish oil: The EPA and DHA found in fish oil have long been shown to be heart healthy and could help you manage your blood pressure. Often, I advise people to take between one to three grams a day. Studies show that the omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) could reduce heart disease risk by up to 52 percent. Fish oil reduces inflammation and softens arteries, so they stay flexible.
And now, with fall right around the corner, I think I’ll indulge in a hot, steaming cup of dark chocolate cocoa to wash down my favorite flavanol-rich cocoa supplement. Care to join me?
“Assessing Variability in Vascular Response to Cocoa With Personal Devices: A Series of Double-Blind Randomized Crossover n-of-1 Trials,” Front. Nutr., 13 June 2022, Sec. Nutrition and Metabolism, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.886597
Written By Dr. Scott Olson, ND
Nearly 25 years ago, failed mainstream medical treatments left Dr. Olson in constant pain – and his health in ruins. And that’s when he did something REVOLUTIONARY. He began his career in medicine – and dedicated his life to uncovering the true, underlying causes of disease.
Through his innovative medical practices in Tennessee and Colorado, Dr. Olson has helped cure countless seniors from across America of arthritis… heart disease… diabetes… and even cancer. All without risky prescription drugs or painful surgeries.
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