Potassium, magnesium, calcium and olive leaf extract help lower high blood pressure safely and as effectively as drug treatments, reducing risk for heart disease and stroke.
In a diet study, researchers explained that because high blood pressure remains widespread, altering a diet may be a better approach to lowering blood pressure than drugs. Scientists reviewed the entire medical literature for studies on potassium, magnesium and calcium and found that these nutrients help lower high blood pressure. The doctors said that for potassium in particular, there is a consistent body of clinical evidence showing that those with high potassium levels have lower blood pressure. Study authors concluded that Americans consume too little potassium—about half the amount—and about twice as much salt (sodium) as they should. The U.S. Institute of Medicine and the American Heart Association suggest increasing potassium to 4.7 grams per day, up from the current government recommendation of 3.5 grams of potassium per day.
In a blood pressure study, researchers recruited 20 pairs of identical twins, 40 people in all, who each had blood pressure elevated slightly above the upper normal limit of 120/80 mm Hg. Twins from each pair took a different treatment, either 500 mg or 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract per day, or counseling on a healthy lifestyle with no treatment. After eight weeks, those who had taken the 1,000 mg dose of olive leaf extract had an average 8 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure, the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping blood, and a 5 percent decrease in diastolic pressure—when the heart relaxes—compared to the start of the study. Those in the 500 mg olive leaf extract group had about a 4 percent decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and twins who received lifestyle counseling alone saw no significant difference.