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Diet Key to Blood Pressure

Multiple things will help keep your blood pressure normal as you age, and also protect your heart.

Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden

McClatchy Newspapers

March 4, 2010

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If you're like many Americans, your blood pressure has crept up as you've gotten older. But it doesn't have to. Our lifestyle has an impact on blood pressure; in fact, in parts of the world where people still live as their ancestors did, high blood pressure is rare. Things that contribute to a healthy blood pressure include a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

It's not clear how fruits and veggies exert their effect, though it likely has something to do with vitamin and mineral content. A new study from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute sheds light on this, suggesting that higher vitamin C levels are linked to healthy blood pressure. In the Growth and Health Study, 242 girls ages 8-11 were followed for 10 years, and their blood pressure and vitamin C blood levels were measured regularly.

Researchers found that the girls with the highest blood levels of vitamin C had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures. It wasn't clear if the vitamin was helping to lower blood pressure or there was a marker for some other healthy nutrient. More research is needed.

In the meantime, multiple things will help keep your blood pressure normal as you age, and also protect your heart. Here are some lifestyle tips:


If you are already taking blood pressure medications and you decide to try some of the above, be sure to talk to your doctor - you may need an adjustment in your meds. By leading a healthy lifestyle, you're bound to need less medication, which is good news for the health of your body and your wallet!


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(Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter's Downtown Integrative Medicine program. They have written "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Secrets of Longevity" ($18.95, Alpha/Penguin Books). Have a question related to alternative medicine? E-mail fitness@sacbee.com.)