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Minerals can lower high blood pressure.

A report released by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) reaffirms the importance of diet in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure and points to promising new areas of nutrition research that can make a difference for patients suffering from hypertension. The Report on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure underscores lifestyle changes well known to be essential to the management of high blood pressure: weight loss for overweight individuals, reduced sodium intake, moderated alcohol consumption, regular exercise, and ceasing to smoke.

There also is mounting evidence suggesting that some additional dietary changes may have a positive impact on hypertension. The NHLBI recommends for the first time that individuals make sure to get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium, magnesium, and potassium in their diets. "The key message is that, if you are not eating the right foods to meet your RDA of these important minerals, now is the time to start," indicates David McCarron, director of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Nutrition Research Unit.

Given the potential link between minerals and high blood pressure, the NHLBI recommends that people at risk of hypertension consume the RDA of these essential nutrients. While they are found individually in many foods, dairy products are the only source that provides all three minerals in meaningful quantities.

Evidence accumulated in more than 300 studies conducted since the early 1980s reveals that individuals at risk for or already diagnosed with high blood pressure were consuming less than the RDA of 800 milligrams of calcium per day--the equivalent of three eight-ounce glasses of milk. Over the past 10 years, more than 30 epidemiological reports from the U.S. and nine other countries have identified a correlation between increased dietary calcium intake and lower blood pressure in humans. More than 20 clinical studies have identified biochemical evidence that some individuals with high blood pressure are calcium deficient. Additional research indicates that high-risk patients with the greatest potential to benefit from increased calcium consumption include salt-sensitive patients, women at risk of developing gestational hypertension, and diabetics, among others with hypertension.

One in four adults, or more than 50,000,000 Americans, currently have high blood pressure, which is a key factor in three-quarters of all heart attacks and strokes. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage the heart and kidneys, increasing chances of a stroke, heart disease, and several types of kidney ailments. Almost half of all people with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition.
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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