Patients are often willing to make meaningful changes in their diet and consider a variety of approaches when faced with a chronic illness such as hypertension. As a primary care provider, it is good to know several evidence-based, nonpharmacologic approaches to offer your patients with hypertension.
Blueberry consumption was recently studied in a group of healthy postmenopausal women with elevated blood pressure. In a randomized clinical trial, the experimental group received 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder per day, which is equivalent to one cup of fresh blueberries. At eight weeks, the study showed that blueberry consumption reduced systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and improved arterial stiffness.1
Patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) who consumed 30 grams of milled flaxseed per day were examined in a six-month, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. The antihypertensive effects of dietary flaxseed in the patients were statistically significant and found to be long-lasting and complementary to therapy with hypertension medications.2
Probiotics are live bacteria that can be ingested for a variety of health benefits. Many forms of probiotics have been studied in the treatment of hypertension, including capsules, yogurt, milk, cheese, and drinks. A recent meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials analyzed the effects of probiotic consumption on blood pressure control. Consuming probiotics reduced SBP by 3.56 mm Hg and DBP by 2.38 mm Hg.3
An antioxidant that has been found to be beneficial in patients with hypertension is coenzyme Q10. A review of 12 studies that examined dosages of coenzyme Q10 from 34 mg/day to 360 mg/day in patients with hypertension found that the antioxidant could lower SBP by as much as 17 mm Hg and DBP up to 10 mm Hg with almost no side effects.4